ARRI has announced the upcoming release of Software Update Packet (SUP) 2.0 for AMIRA cameras, and the subsequent release of SUP 3.0. The former unlocks 4K UHD recording for high-resolution pipelines, while the latter enables MPEG-2 MXF recording for streamlined, broadcast-friendly workflows. Together they stretch the already wide spectrum of AMIRA’s deliverable options at both ends of the scale, making the camera an even more versatile production tool.
Underlining the positioning and success of AMIRA as the perfect camera for productions ranging from documentaries, reportage and corporate films to TV and low-budget movies, these two major software updates in the first half of 2015 will enhance the feature-set in ways that respond specifically to customer requests and industry trends. With its flexible, re-programmable system architecture, AMIRA will continue to expand in functionality over the coming years in the same way that ALEXA has done since 2010, allowing it to keep pace with a rapidly evolving market and deliver a strong return on investment.
AMIRA SUP 3.0 – scheduled for release mid-2015
The key new feature of AMIRA SUP 3.0 is the ability to record MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper. This XDCAM-compatible MPEG- 2 recording format allows television productions to take advantage of AMIRA’s superior image quality and ergonomics, while utilizing a low-bandwidth codec that can easily be integrated into typical broadcast environments and workflows.
Recording MPEG-2 MXF with AMIRA ensures 100% compatibility with the format already used by many low budget or time-pressured television productions, for which a streamlined workflow through ingest, editing and post is vital. This cost- efficient format minimizes the number of memory cards needed on set, but also reduces postproduction and archiving costs through reduced data rates and seamless integration with standard tools.
In order to further ease the integration of AMIRA into fast-paced television production environments, a new audio accessory will be released. Taking the form of an extension to the back of the camera body, it will equip AMIRA with a slot for a portable audio tuner/receiver. This will allow signals to be received wirelessly from either the sound recordist’s mixer or straight from radio microphones, accommodating the needs of ENG-style productions that capture audio directly in-camera, but value the most cable-free configuration possible.
Other features of SUP 3.0 will include a versatile camera remote control interface for multi-camera live or scripted productions; Super 16 mm lens support; an intervalometer function for time-lapse applications; and a host of general usability enhancements.
AMIRA SUP 2.0 – scheduled for release in March 2015
4K UHD recording is the major new feature of AMIRA SUP 2.0. Enabled by the software update, it is activated through the purchase of a 4K UHD license at the ARRI License Shop (and a camera sensor calibration at an ARRI service center for cameras purchased in 2014).
The new 4K UHD recording format has been developed for productions that need to generate high-resolution deliverables. It allows ProRes codecs up to ProRes 4444 to be recorded in Ultra High Definition 3840 x 2160 resolution directly onto the in-camera CFast 2.0 cards, at up to 60 fps. Optional in-camera de-noising, sharpening and detailing tools permit the image to be optimized for specific applications or matched to different cameras and lenses.
Further enhancements provided by AMIRA SUP 2.0 include ProRes 3.2K recording (allowing cross-compatibility with ALEXA cameras running ALEXA SUP 11.0); WiFi remote support; the ability to monitor audio channels individually; additional lock functions to prevent the accidental pressing of buttons or switches; frame rate adjustments while in pre-record mode; frame grabs from the live camera image; and many more.
ARRI has also announced that Software Update Packet (SUP) 11.0 for ALEXA cameras is now available for download from the company’s website, free of charge. ALEXA’s eleventh major update includes many new features, including an ALEXA ProRes 3.2K recording format for productions requiring 4K UHD deliverables, and ADA-5 – an enhanced debayering algorithm that further improves ALEXA’s image quality.
Available to ALEXA XT cameras and ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade, ALEXA ProRes 3.2K is a new recording resolution that uses 3.2K photo sites from the sensor to record a 16:9 3.2K ProRes file. The 3.2K sensor area was chosen because it is the largest area that can still be covered by almost all Super 35 PL mount lenses.
At data rates far below uncompressed ARRIRAW, ALEXA ProRes 3.2K provides the benefits of the well-established and efficient ProRes workflow. A straightforward up-sample from ALEXA ProRes 3.2K using standard post tools results in a 4K UHD deliverable of unsurpassed overall image quality.
The ARRI Debayer Algorithm ADA-5 represents an improvement in image quality for all ALEXA models, delivering clearer and sharper images. This is especially visible in small, high-contrast details (such as thin branches against a blue sky), which will exhibit smoother, cleaner edges.
ADA-5 also further reduces noise in the red and blue channels, making bluescreen compositing in VFX even easier. ADA-5 has been available through the ARRIRAW Converter since ARC 3.1 and as part of the ARRIRAW Software Developer’s Kit (SDK); it has also been used in the AMIRA camera since AMIRA SUP 1.1.
Expanded media support is another feature of SUP 11.0, with all ALEXA cameras now able to support all generations of SxS PRO+ cards, and ALEXA XT/XR cameras able to support SanDisk CFast 2.0 128 GB cards.
ALEXA compatibility with the ARRI Electronic Control System (ECS) has also been expanded, with SUP 11.0 providing support for the new Lens Data Encoder LDE-1, as well as unlocking a number of new features when using the WCU-4 wireless hand unit.
Other features of SUP 11.0 for all ALEXA models include improved web remote functionality, refined user buttons and the ability to save frame line and time zone information within the camera metadata.
Additionally, ALEXA XT/XR cameras will now record a checksum with each ARRIRAW frame that can be used to verify data integrity throughout the subsequent workflow. This makes working with ARRIRAW even safer and copying even faster, though it means that the latest version of Codex software must be used to read SUP 11.0 ARRIRAW files.
Detailed technical release notes about SUP 11.0 can be found on the ALEXA DOWNLOADS page of the ARRI website: www.arri.com/camera/alexa/ downloads.