If it's a film premièring at the world's most prestigious film festival, then it's a good chance you'd spot more than a few shot on the ARRI Alexa or even ARRI film cameras, and definitely ARRI lighting gear. The ALEXA, which has been the dominant force in feature film acquisition across all budget levels and experience for the past five years, is still a major favourite among leading DoP's in Hollywood shooting both big budget films, as well as smaller, independent dramas. Naturally, ARRI's presence at this year's Cannes Film Festival was as always prominent.
And with the recent introduction of the ALEXA Mini, which is basically a miniaturised version of the ALEXA with the same Super 35 CMOS sensor capable of 14+ stops of dynamic range, with a velvety smooth highlight roll-off and true, life-like colour rendition and skin tone reproduction akin to the organic nature of film emulsion. Apart from the sheer tiny size, it literally fits in the palm of your hand, the Alexa MINI is also capable of recording 4K UHD ProRes images, internally on a Cfast 2.0 card, thus facilitating real-time 4K UHD output and simple pipelines for high-resolution deliverables.
More importantly, the MINI and all other ARRI cameras with the ALEV III sensor (such as the docu-styled AMIRA) offer unrivalled overall image quality by focusing not just on spatial resolution, but also on other parameters such as colorimetry, skin tones and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
This is equally true whether the chosen output is HD, 2K, 4K UHD or one of the native resolution outputs like uncompressed ARRIRAW 2.8K or ProRes 3.2K, ensuring that images captured with the ALEXA Mini are future-proof, whatever new industry standards emerge.
At the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival, approximately 60% of feature films from all selections were shot with ARRI equipment and more than 40% captured with the ARRI ALEXA and ARRI cine lenses. Staggering statistics really, and a testament to the world class quality cine products ARRI have always been committed to. Overall, more than half of the festival's films that were shot digitally used ALEXA as their main camera, showing that ARRI remains the pre-eminent technology leader, setting a gold standard for the rest of the industry.
A highlight this year was an interview with Roger Deakins ASC, BSC, CBE on the latest "war on drugs" crime thriller "Sicario", which he shot with ALEXA cameras and Master Prime lenses, experimenting with the ALEXA Open Gate shooting mode to maximize spatial resolution.
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, CBE Legendary DoP Roger Deakins teamed up with director Canadian Denis Villeneuve, with whom he worked on the fascinating thriller "PRISONERS". Deakins chose the ARRI ALEXA for the director's latest crime-thriller SICARIO, just as he has for every digital film he has shot to date.
"I think the ALEXA at the moment is the best camera out there," says Deakins. "We shot Open Gate...only a few months previously I heard that there was this opportunity to use more of the sensor and get slightly higher resolution, but it was good...it helps a lot, especially on the wide day exteriors...you do notice that slight extra quality and you notice it in the face as well, frankly. I think the detail in a face is just slightly enhanced."
Carolina Costa Directed by David Pablos, LAS ELEGIDAS (THE CHOSEN ONES) was shot in six weeks on a budget just shy of $1.3m and examines the shady world of child prostitution in Mexico. "The look for it we called stylized documentary," says DP Carolina Costa. "For me it was a very clear decision... to shoot with the ALEXA; I had no doubts about that." She adds, "We decided to go with ARRIRAW...it was very important for me to have the flexibility in post. I knew I wanted to play a lot with the bottom part of the curve and I wanted to have that latitude...I had five days to do the color correction, which is insanity for a feature film, but because we had already developed that look on set...it gave us a good base to start."
Yu Lik-wai Speaking on his collaboration with Chinese director Jia Zhangke ahd their approach to his ambitious drama film MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART, DP Yu Lik-wai notes, "There would be three [time] periods and he really wanted to express this feeling of history...he had this idea to shoot it in three different formats: 1.33:1, 1.85:1 and 2.39:1." Lik-wai goes on, "In terms of camera we used most of the time the [ALEXA] Studio, for some very extreme situations like maybe in a train...we used the [ALEXA] M for its size. For lenses we used Ultra Primes for the first two parts and for the last part, Master Anamorphics...I was very surprised by the size and the aperture, because it opens to T1.9, which is not comparable to older lenses."
For more interviews head over to ARRI.