ARRI Alexa cameras will record native Avid DNxHD as MXF files in-camera on SxS Cards.
The downloadable Software Update Packet 6.0 (due January 2012) will enable Avid DNxHD codec data rates of up to 145Mbit/s (bit depth 8 bit) and 220MBit/s (bit depth 10 bit) to be supported in the initial release. Avid’s highest quality version of the codec, Avid DNxHD 444, will record at 440Mbit/s at 10 bit depth and will be provided as a free upgrade during the first quarter of 2012.
Angus Mackay of Avid, said, “By providing native Avid DNxHD recording with the Alexa camera, ARRI is allowing users to quickly and easily view dailies and begin editorial without the need to transcode or re-wrap footage. Media Composer version 6 (Just released on November 3) now offers the Avid DNxHD444 codec, which will permit customers to preserve the high color information in ALEXA footage while still having a low bit-rate codec suitable for editorial. This provides advantages in quality, speed and streamlined workflows.”
Here’s an example of the procedure on a major feature production:
Record simultaneously: ARRIRAW to Codex Onboard Recorder Datapacks, and DNxHD to SxS cards. The Codex “magazine” (Solid State Datapack) is cloned on set. The “magazine” with its “digital negative” is sent to the “lab” (post house) for “processing” (downloading) and “dailies.”
The Alexa’s onboard SxS card is kept on set as a backup. Because it is now in DNxHD, an Avid editor on set can quickly do rough assemblies–no need to wait for transcoding or re-wrapping. The SxS card also becomes a backup until word comes from the post house that all is well with the ARRIRAW footage. Worst case scenario (and those scenarios lurk in our nightmares–the messenger quit and dropped the Codex in a dumpster), the SxS card footage can be used instead of a re-shoot.