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Greg talks about tech, kit and people at the London BVE.

  • 5 June 2013

We had a wander through the various BVE stands that had everything within video, sound and tech displayed. However, there was one main thing we were drawn towards: the Arri Alexa.

Being like kids in a candy shop on a Friday afternoon, we were running around in full excitement and tried everything from cameras such as the Phantom Flex, Sony F55’s, F65’s FS700, Canon C500’s to RED’s and more. However, the Arri was the main subject we approached with Goosebumps all over.

It was astonishing. Robust as a military tank with a gorgeous and elegant 2.40:1 aspect ratio displaying a crisp 14 stop dynamic range image that was to die for! We had a play and a long chat with the Arri-man, whom we challenged with various questions and statements.

Arri Alexa

One of the biggest selling points of the Alexa when it came out was its dynamic range. Now, the very affordable Blackmagic Cinema Camera is out, with the same dynamic range. Other cameras such as the RED, Sony (F65) and Canon’s (C500) allow 4K recording – 4 times the resolution as the Alexa. We mentioned this to the Arri man, however he did not show the slightest bit of concern.

‘Look at the last 3 years and the Oscar Nominations for best cinematography’

Reminding us that even though there are amazing cameras out there, the Alexa occupies the vast majority of Oscar nominations and victories. Other winners were the orthodox film cameras such as the Panavision.

The Blackmagic has a great dynamic range (13 stops), but it’s a prosumer camera and is far from being a challenge to the Alexa. But 4K is. We thought.

4K is so crisp and is 4 times ‘better quality’ than JUST 2K, isn’t it?

Our Alexa man disagreed, stating that Arri emphasize the individual pixels the camera produce, not resolution. This is what their winning point is now. There are cameras with better specs out there, however the Alexa remains the Rolls Royce of cameras.

The biggest mistake we did was to immediately run over to Arri’s stand. And hence ruining the experience of playing with the RED’s Epics, Con C500’s, Sony F65’s, FS700 and F55. We checked out the Phantom Flex, which obviously can’t be compared to any other cameras as it is a totally different game. We subsequently approached the other cameras and cockily said ‘Yeah, its really nice, and it shoots in high frame rates, and may do even 5K…but its no Alexa!’.

It was like being brainwashed by Arri and no matter what we saw and what people said or showed us, our God was the Arri, our prophet, the Arri Man and we believed in the spirit of the Alexa.

So we relinquished all other cameras, went over again to the Arri stand like going to church on Sunday and then went to the 4K/3D theatre to hear Philip Bloom talk about his journey from the Canon 5dmkii to the 4K 1DC, even though 4K was an abandoned topic for now.

Phil’s talk was very interesting, especially how he was reluctant to 4K but after trying, realizing that it’s not only about the resolution but the quality, colours and image as a whole. Interestingly, he emphasized that specs is nothing on a camera, you have to try to shoot with it and see it. Something that we very much realized after plying with cameras with amazing specs, compared to the Alexa, with ‘worse’ specs… And walked out not even remembering any other cameras than the Arri.

The best part was when we met him later. He looked at my badge saying ‘I recognize that name…’ – who wouldn’t. Then he remembered that we’ve worked together on Movember the past 3 years and we know each other virtually from twitter, Facebook and vimeo – fun to finally meet him in person!

I realize that this blogpost is supposed to be about the whole event, but it seems like a love letter to the Alexa. However, there is a more profound application of my love letter;

-Specs are nothing, also confirmed by Philip Bloom.
-The world is not in 4K… (but is 4K ready)
-What’s 3D? We don’t know. No one does, and no one wants to know. As of now, 3D is a fun and cool. But its dead. Or not yet born. Maybe it’ll come alive, but 4K is prevailant. We didn’t hear anyone even mention 3D.
-We got to play with the best cameras in the world.

The BVE event is the highlight of the year for any video/film/tech person, and anyone missing it is missing the best day of the year.
Christmas or Birthday? Don’t care, when is the next BVE event?

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