IMAX has announced that it has entered into an agreement with ARRI to customize the ALEXA 65 system for use on IMAX productions. ARRI is taking their crown jewel the large format ALEXA 65 digital cinema camera to the next level by entering into a collaborative venture with leading cinema experience IMAX, the recognized world leader in large format imaging technologies.
The ALEXA 65 was tested during the filming of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER by directors Anthony and Joseph Russo, who were impressed with the results and plan to make use of the cameras through IMAX on CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.
The latest Marvel movie and next instalment in the Captain America franchise will be the first film shot with the new 2D digital cameras developed by IMAX together with ARRI. According to a Variety article, about 15 minutes of the film, including what co-director Joe Russo describes as one sequence “with some incredible scale to it,” will be shot with the cameras.
“We like being on the cutting edge of technology, and we like to enhance storytelling with technology in a way that pushes the narrative forward creatively,” said Russo. “When you’re working on a Marvel film, there’s a sense of showmanship that goes along with the movies, and no exhibitor exploits that better than IMAX”
Imax currently has a 3D digital cinema camera, first used on Michael Bay's Transformers 4, in addition to their traditional 2D 65m film camera, however the Canadian company recognized the need for new large format digital cameras capable of immersive 2D acqusition in resolutions higher than 4K, thus manufacturing the new technology in conjunction with industry leaders ARRI, whose ALEXA cameras are the most heavily used cameras for big budget Hollywood feature films, some of which end up on IMAX screens.
In addition, many 3D productions, such as “Gravity,” were shot originally in 2D (ARRI Alexa in ARRIRAW) and then converted to 3D in post-production. This is the plan for “Captain America: Civil War” as well.
Digital acquisition has eclipsed traditional celluloid acquisition for the majority of Hollywood films in the past 5 years, many of which attribute this success to the enormous popularity of the ARRI ALEXA cameras, who seem to be among top DP's favourite tools for filming large scale productions, due to the astonishing image quality out of the 3.4K ALEV III sensor in the ALEXA cameras. The new ALEXA 65, utilises a new A3X sensor; the largest high-performance motion picture sensor available on the market today. The sensor has a 54.12 mm x 25.58 mm active imaging area, which is even larger than the film gate of ARRI’s 765 65 mm film camera.
The maximum recordable resolution from the A3X sensor is 6560 x 3100 photosites, with a dynamic range of more than 14 stops. The sensor design is based on the same photosite technology as the ALEXA XT, therefore image attributes such as colorimetry and dynamic range will match well with any member of the ALEXA family. This allows productions the freedom to mix the use of 35 mm format ALEXA XT cameras with the larger 65 mm format ALEXA 65, without having to worry about adopting different workflows or any additional colour correction of images in post-production.
Imax has been very selective about allowing filmmakers to use its cameras, limiting their use to a few A-list names such as Zack Snyder (“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”), Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), Christopher Nolan (“Interstellar”) and J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”).
“The demand for our cameras has never been stronger,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment. “But we’ve had a supply/demand issue. In a very calculated way we held back the supply, and that’s increased demand in a way that we haven’t been able to satisfy.”
The ARRI ALEXA 65 is available exclusively through the ARRI Rental network.
ARRI MD Franz Kraus said this in relation to the new agreement with IMAX:
"We're looking forward to working with the IMAX team to create a specially customized camera, lens and workflow solution that not only does justice to the corporation's rich history of 15-perf 65 mm and 3D filmmaking, but carries it forward into a new era of even more spectacular large format image capture."