‘The Revenant’ Offers Look At ARRI’s ALEXA 65, & It’s Gorgeous

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Although Quentin Tarantino is putting his own money where his mouth is on shooting with film, the digital revolution is moving forward over at ARRI, where the ALEXA 65 is finally getting its first shakedown with the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Revenant. This week the first trailer was released and we can finally see what digital 65mm looks like, and it’s pretty gorgeous!

While The Hateful Eight is relying on the buttery optical image of rare widescreen anamorphic lenses and 70mm film, cinematographer Emmenuel Lubezki (Gravity) opted to maintain is cutting edge track with the ALEXA 65, and an array of Hasselblad 65mm primes. The result is fairly legit, too, especially in shooting in a similar western mountain world of The Revenant.

“The lenses are very wide and close to the actors,” Lubezki noted in an interview with the American Society of Cinematographers Magazine. “It’s extremely visceral.”

A reminder of the ARRI 65’s specs here:

  • 65mm Digital Cinema Camera
  • ARRI A3X CMOS sensor
  • 5-perf 65mm (full camera aperture)
  • 6560 x 3102 resolution (maximum recordable)
  • 54.12 x 25.58 mm Sensor size (active image area)
  • Weight: 10.5 kg / 23.2 lb
  • ARRI XPL Mount (64mm diameter)
  • 200 – 3200 ISO. Base is 800 ISO
  • Dynamic Range: >14 stops
  • Uncompressed ARRIRAW
  • LDS metadata
  • Electronic Shutter 5° – 358°, adjustable in 1/10° increments
  • 0.75 to 27 fps (upgrade to 60 fps planned for early 2015)

The film, which stars DiCaprio as a mountain man looking for revenge after being left for dead, was shot in the dead of winter in the mountains of Alberta, Canada. What’s amazing is that the trailer really gives us a glimpse of the incredible dynamic range and image quality that the ARRI buys you.

But even with that feature set, Lubezki still had to deal with the weather, which proved to be quite hazardous to the sensitive electronics in their digital cameras.

“We’re doing a lot of exterior work with natural light and Steadicam,” Lubezki said. “The temperature has dropped as low as -30°C [-22°F], and we’ve been experiencing some difficulties with the equipment. At one point, it got so cold our monitors froze!”

One thing I did notice, however, is how the external fringe of the 65mm image does lag a bit optically during the action scenes, whicht required Lubezki to move the camera, but that may be a cinematic choice by director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman).

It definitely gives an offputting, surreal look, almost like the audience is inside the mind of a man driven insane by his quest for vengeance. I dunno, I’m just spitballin’ there, but I do like the images. The ARRI ALEXA 65, coupled with those Hassleblad primes give a super sharp resolution, and a lovely color corrected style.

So this is how it’s going to play out at the Oscars, kinda like a cinematic High Noon, pitting Tarantino’s 70mm film against Iñárritu/Lubezki’s ALEXA’s 65mm digital emulsion. At this stage, I’m not sure there are any other contenders for Best Cinematography. And that means that the film vs. video debate is about to heat up the closer we get to January and the Oscar nominations. You know what? I can’t wait.

Hat Tip – NFS

About doddle 16509 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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