3.2K ProRes can upscale to UHD
By James DeRuvo
Fresh off the ARRI AMIRA getting a 4K firmware upgrade, ARRI has announced that the next camera to get an ultra high definition boost will be the ARRI ALEXA XT. But while the XT is 2K, it can be future proofed to 4K, thanks to a 3.2K ProRes upgrade, and that’s enough resolution to get it to 4K through a decent upsample thanks to Open Gate mode.
” … images captured with ALEXA in HD and certainly those captured in ARRIRAW already look stunning on a 4K screen or on a UHD TV screen today. However, some film and program makers are concerned about protecting their work for future developments and insist on recording in a higher resolution. The ongoing debate regarding high dynamic range (HDR) displays, which have an even greater effect on viewing experience than higher spatial resolution, only adds to these concerns. Designed from the outset to be adaptable and future-proof, ALEXA can easily accommodate productions that choose to follow a UHD or 4K workflow” – ARRI’s Press Release
ARRI’s upgrade path works likes this … in 2015, the firmware update will allow the ALEXA XT to capture into a ProRes workflow at 3.2K with data rates that are below ARRIRAW. Additionally, most lenses have the sweet spot for covering the 16:9 ProRes 3.2K image. And from there, users can upsample to what ARRI calls the “highest quality ultra high definition for broadband and broadcast.”
Shooting in 2.5K ARRIRaw, also gives those shooting a feature the ability to upsample to 4K as well. But the XT was able to do that on the James Bond movie SkyFall, not only because Roger Deakins is a genius, but also thanks to DCP. ARRI’s Open Gate technology takes it a step further by giving users 3.4K Raw across the entire sensor area, which can then be upsampled to 4K without any loss of the image.
“Open Gate has been enthusiastically received by the feature film industry and is in use on numerous productions already,” ARRI’s press release said, citing such productions as TERMINATOR: GENYSIS, FANTASTIC FOUR, AGENT 47 and DEUS EX MACHINA.
And it will also give users the ability to experiment with high dynamic range video recording thanks to Dolby Vision display technology. Working together, the bold colors and deep dynamic range are really going to take 4K where it wants to go. Meanwhile, the software update will be coming in early 2015.
New ALEXA ProRes 3.2K for UHD TV
The majority of digital film and television productions continue to capture, postproduce and distribute in HD or 2K, formats for which ALEXA provides an unmatched solution. Widespread adoption of UHD/4K post workflows, as well as availability of UHD displays in consumer homes and 4K projection in theaters is at least one to two years away — even in the most progressive markets. Furthermore, images captured with ALEXA in HD and certainly those captured in ARRIRAW already look stunning on a 4K screen or on a UHD TV screen today. However, some film and program makers are concerned about protecting their work for future developments and insist on recording in a higher resolution. The ongoing debate regarding high dynamic range (HDR) displays, which have an even greater effect on viewing experience than higher spatial resolution, only adds to these concerns.
ALEXA is Future-Proof
Designed from the outset to be adaptable and future-proof, ALEXA can easily accommodate productions that choose to follow a UHD or 4K workflow. The camera’s stellar overall image quality in combination with ProRes 3.2K (due for release as a software update in early 2015) and ARRIRAW Open Gate (released earlier this year) allows for simple up-sampling to UHD or 4K in a quality at least as good as other contenders. And because of their unequalled exposure latitude and highlight handling, ALEXA images are already uniquely HDR-compatible. Put simply, ALEXA remains the safest available capture tool for asset longevity, no matter what future standards come to fruition.
Capture with ALEXA, Deliver UHD for Television
For TV productions looking for a UHD deliverable, ALEXA XT cameras and ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade offer the new and cost-efficient ProRes 3.2K recording option. At data rates far below uncompressed ARRIRAW, ProRes 3.2K provides the benefits of the well-established and efficient ProRes workflow. As an additional benefit, most lenses fully cover the 3.2K image circle that results from the 16:9 ProRes 3.2K image. A straightforward up-sample from ProRes 3.2K using standard post tools delivers UHD images of the highest quality for broadband and broadcast.
Capture with ALEXA, Deliver 4K for Feature Films
Many high-profile movies have been shot in ARRIRAW 2.8K and up-sampled to a 4K DCP with spectacular results, an example being the last James Bond film, SKYFALL. To further improve upon this option, ARRI introduced the ARRIRAW Open Gate recording format for ALEXA XT cameras. Open Gate records the full 3.4K ALEXA XT sensor area for an optimal up-sample in post to a 4K DCP.
Open Gate has been enthusiastically received by the feature film industry and is in use on numerous productions already, including WARCRAFT, SAN ANDREAS, PIXELS, GOOSEBUMPS AND SICARIO, the latest movie lensed by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. Other feature films are shooting ARRIRAW 16:9 or ARRIRAW 4:3 and using Open Gate selectively for VFX shots, including TERMINATOR: GENESIS, FANTASTIC 4, AGENT 47 and DEUS EX MACHINA.
Capture with ALEXA, Protect for HDR
Recent demonstrations of high dynamic range (HDR) displays have shown the extraordinary visual impact of increased dynamic range and sparked a debate over how and when they will be introduced. ARRI has been working with Dolby at major trade shows to help showcase Dolby® Vision™ display technology, which is capable of 100 times more brightness than a conventional TV. This has contributed to spreading awareness in the industry that dynamic range is an even more important factor than spatial resolution in creating a superior visual experience. Recognizing this, other companies such as Thomson, Philips and the BBC are working on their own HDR solutions.
ALEXA’s unrivalled exposure latitude, highlight handling and color science already result in images beyond the capabilities of current display technologies. The Dolby Vision presentations have revealed how much better ALEXA images look when displayed with extended dynamic range, proving the enormous and as-yet untapped potential of ALEXA-originated material to be remastered for future HDR display standards.