The New 4K ARRI ALEXA SXT

For years, one of the biggest criticisms of the ALEXA camera was that it did not offer 4K recording. Because it’s a professional digital camera system whose primary distribution is through broadcast and cinema, ARRI took their time in releasing a 4K camera since 1080 and 2K are still the dominant distribution channels. Although they were never behind, today you can say ARRI catches up to the rest of the world by offering a 4K version of its signature ALEXA camera platform. The ALEXA SXT (Super Xtended Technology) offers ProRes 4K recording, improved image quality, better color management and three independent HD-SDI outputs.

For productions needing UHD TV or 4K DCI deliverables, the ALEXA SXT, as well as the ALEXA 65, will become the dominant camera for high end productions. The ALEXA SXT contains the 3.4K ALEV III sensor of previous ALEXA cameras but adds the electronics of the ALEXA 65. These electronics combine the latest FPGA processors with a fast internal backplane and form the basis of a completely overhauled image processing chain, advanced pixel correction and optional noise reduction, which as a whole improves overall image quality. Like their XT predecessors, ALEXA SXT cameras retain the unique and popular Open Gate, 4:3 and 16:9 sensor modes, which can be recorded in ARRIRAW or ProRes.

These new and unique looks use the advanced color management engine originally developed for the AMIRA. Because of the wide native color gamut of the ALEXA sensor, the new engine gives you more control – and more creative freedom. A new type of look file, the ALF-2 (ARRI Look File 2), contains an ASC CDL (Color Decision List), as well as a 3D LUT (Look-Up Table). The color management engine can match the look of current ALEXA cameras, as well as offer a wide range of different looks. In addition, previewing your looks on set is improved, including the option to use the wide color gamut of Rec 2020 gamma, while dailies creation is made more efficient and final grading made faster. ALF-2 files and the tools that create them are compatible between ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini and AMIRA.

To streamline on-set workflows and deliver what film crews have been asking for, ALEXA SXT cameras include three independent HD-SDI outputs. This can allow a Log C image to be used to show the director a “finished” image with live grading, a clean Rec 709 image to be fed to video village, and a Rec 709 image with status information overlays to be displayed on the camera’s on-board monitor. ALEXA SXT cameras have also been designed to quickly adapt to the everchanging digital production world – their powerful electronics offer significant potential for future hardware and software upgrades.

The first ALEXA SXT cameras are planned for release in the middle of 2015 and the range will consist of ALEXA SXT EV, SXT Plus and SXT Studio models, replacing current ALEXA XT cameras (though the ALEXA Classic EV model will remain in the line-up). ALEXA XT cameras (except ALEXA XT M cameras) shipped between 1st Jan. 2015 and the first shipment of SXT cameras will be eligible for a full SXT upgrade, which will be free. At the time of the ALEXA SXT release, ARRI will offer an SXR (Super Xtended Recording) Module upgrade to owners of existing ALEXA XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras. The SXR Module upgrade delivers all the features of the SXT cameras, although it might not offer all the future upgrade potential.

For more information, please visit ARRI’s official website.

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