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ARRI Digital has created a series of online resources for the ALEXA camera. These tools are designed for operators to get the most out of the camera. ARRI will be creating more of these tools in the future, and we will continue to bring them to you here.
The ALEXA Camera Simulator is an interactive training tool to familiarize yourself with the menu navigation of the ARRI ALEXA Digital Camera. The main user interface shows an identical simulation of the current ALEXA with software version 7.0 (released in November 2012).
The simulator not only works with a standard mouse, but it also touchscreen compatible – ideal for Apple iPad users.
The ALEXA Frameline Composer (AFLC-2) enables creating custom markings based on your specific requirements. Arri has updated it to enable frame lines for 4:3 aspect ratio. The Frameline Composer also offers a number of predefined frame lines for your convenience. Please note that most of them already are available in every ALEXA.
User-generated framelines are stored as XML files, which can be put on an SD card, inserted into the camera and uploaded. (Full instructions are available on the Composer page.) You may optionally save the frame line as a .PNG image for archival purposes or to generate a frame leader in HD resolution.
As of ALEXA Software Update Packet (SUP) 4.0, ALEXA cameras can apply user-defined looks to customize the rendering of video images for different applications and individual preferences.
The newly introduced ARRI Look Files in the ALEXA camera enable DPs to view images on set that convey their full creative intentions. A look file can be previewed on monitors or recorded into the image; either way all the metadata that define the look travel embedded in the media into post-production. This is a completely new way of handling looks.
Look files are different from look-up tables (LUTs), which change one color space to another, for example from Log C to video. In essence, ARRI Look Files are a purely creative tool, used within the ALEXA camera itself. They might be created by the colorist, or by the DP, but in either case they encourage greater and earlier interaction between production and post, and allow monitors on the set to give a good idea of what the final look for each scene might be.
The ARRI Look Creator is a MAC OS X application that can create look files for ALEXA through an easy-to-use interface based on film lab thinking, with printer light settings. This free-of-charge program is currently under beta testing. It can be downloaded here, along with a quick guide.
In post-production, ARRIRAW files must be transformed into a standard file format for conforming and color correction. The most commonly used format is SMPTE DPX (Digital Picture eXchange). With ARRIRAW Converter (ARC), ARRI provides a free software tool to view and convert ARRIRAW data into DPX files for post-production.
The ARRIRAW Converter is available to download for Windows and Mac OS systems, along with a user guide.
ALEXA cameras are capable of acquiring metadata while recording a take. ALEXA Plus (4:3) and ALEXA Studio cameras also allow capturing VFX relevant metadata such as lens data (LDS).
This metadata is stored in several different ways on SxS cards: Final Cut Pro 7 XML file, Avid Log Exchange (ALE) file, QuickTime metadata atom, MXF metadata XML and the ARRI Digital MetaData (ADMD) atom. The .ari file format for ARRIRAW files stores metadata in the header of the file. To make use of this information, it has to be extracted from the files.
To pull the complete metadata and read out of ALEXA files, ARRI is supplying the new ARRI META Extract 2.0, which comes as a GUI for the different flavors of OS X and for Win7, as well as command line tool. It is able to extract the metadata from ARRIRAW, dpx and QuickTime files. DNxHD will follow at a later stage. The program is available to download from ARRI Digital.
For viewing directly on the set and for color correction in post, look up tables (LUTs) are used. Generally speaking LUTs are used to manipulate image data. A LUT transforms a digital signal to adjust the sensitivity, gamma and provide a color correct monitoring input.
To download the proper LUT for your production, ARRI created a page to select the appropriate LUT you need from the many combinations that are available. These LUTs are provided as supporting tools for production. As specific needs vary by project and 3rd party LUT formats are subject to change, ARRI recommends that you test these LUTs before using them in production.
LUTs are available for on-set viewing, dailies and post-production. Click here to begin creating your ALEXA LUTs.
For a full listing of ALEXA tools from ARRI Digital, click here.