There are two different upgrade paths for those who have received XT cameras in 2015 or 2016 (Keep & Buy and SXT Upgrade 15/16) and one upgrade for XT cameras shipped in 2013 or 2014 (SXT Upgrade 13/14). Existing XT owners should check with ARRI.
The big deal is that all upgrades will be SXT. There will not be an SXR upgrade (which was mainly a new Capture Drive module). Here’s a detailed look at ARRI’s Alexa SXT announcement as of September 2016.
Alexa SXT cameras replace Alexa XT. There will be 3 models: Alexa SXT EV (Entry Version-EVF), SXT Plus (wireless control- EVF) and SXT Studio (wireless control-optical finder).
Alexa SXT cameras benefit from electronics and image processing from the Alexa 65, color management and noise reduction from the Amira, more recording and monitoring options, and improved look management.
ARRI Look Management now includes ARRI Look File 2 (ALF- 2) and ALF-2 HDR. A Look File accompanies the image file as metadata including the target color space (for example, Rec 709, Rec 2020 or P3 DCI) and any 3D LUT or ASC CDL values that were applied to transform the Alexa’s Wide Gamut/ Log C (AWG/ Log C) native values into the display’s color space. A Look File travels from pre-production, to production, and through post to help communicate the envisioned look of the shot. So, an Alexa SXT on set can essentially replace a LUT box and the same look will be available for reference throughout the show.
Alexa SXT has 4 independent monitoring outputs, each with independent settings for image processing, surround view, status info, peaking, false color and color space. More on this, next page. SXT cameras accept many recording media: Codex SXR and XR Capture Drives, SxS PRO and SxS PRO+ cards, and CFast 2.0 cards.
There are now 14 recording formats; 7 are new. All sensor modes are available in both ProRes and ARRIRAW. ProRes offers high image quality in compressed files that are smaller, immediately viewable on a Mac and easy to manage in post. ARRIRAW provides uncompressed, higher quality images, with the greatest flexibility for color grading, visual effects and long-term archiving.
In-camera ProRes recording includes 16:9 ProRes 4K UHD 3840 for TV productions, Open Gate ProRes 4K Cine for 4K DCI cinema, 4:3 ProRes 2.8K, and 6:5 ProRes (both 2K Anamorphic and 4K Cine 4096 Anamorphic) for economical anamorphic productions.
In-camera ARRIRAW recording includes 16:9 3.2K which covers the image diagonal of most Super 35 PL mount lenses (31.5 mm) at speeds to 120 fps. ARRIRAW Open Gate 3.4K provides the highest level of resolution, with an image diagonal of 33.5mm.
Because not all S35 lenses cover 33.5mm diagonal—ARRI has a helpful online Lens Illumination Guide that shows amount of coverage, shading or vignetting.
Alexa SXT has 4 independent monitoring outputs.
EVF: The camera operator will probably like to see frame lines, surround view and status information in the electronic viewfinder.
MON OUT 1: The camera assistant most likely will be viewing the live feed with frame lines, surround view, status information, LDS lens data, and peaking to emphasize focus.
MON OUT 2: A clean Log C image can go to the DIT for preview grading with the Cinematographer. ASC CDL and/or 3D LUTs can be applied. These in-camera options provide many choices for DITs.
MON OUT 3: The Director can watch a Rec 2020 monitor with framelines and the “Show LUT” applied.
By the way, Alexa has been recording High Dynamic Range (HDR) since June 2010, and now the Alexa SXT is prepared for HDR monitoring on set.
This is an update of the article that appeared on pages 26-27 of Film and Digital Times Issue 77-78. Subscribe here