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Possible Arri s16 digital camera coming?


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Franz Kraus addressed at Conference of the International Association of Film and Television Schools (CILECT) in Munich on Nov 27th, that a s16 Amira prototype has been tested. They are apparently in progress to a feasibility study with an aim to supply film schools/educational market, as many schools still having lenses left over from the SR/ST days. Simplified s16 Amira (true S16 Sensor not a crop) sounds very much in the feasibility stage for now, but could end up being an interesting little camera if produced and made available outside the educational market.

http://if.com.au/2015/11/26/article/Arri-reveals-prototype-educational-camera/IQUTSYTINV.html

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Well, judging the first paragraph already...

Arri has unveiled the concept and prototype of a new educational camera to help students deal with the difficulty of modern digital cameras while learning film camera fundamentals such as image composition and exposure.

... this is going to be stripped of all non-essentials and be super basic. That's nice to learn about exposure and such, but that also means it probably won't have any elaborate features, so you'd probably be more interested by Blackmagic offerings if you're not out to be learning the basics (with scratch projects), but shooting (for commercial work).

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This is interesting, especially if you consider shows like 'The Walking Dead' are using ARRI s16 film cameras to shoot with.

I wonder if ARRI are seeing that there are further opportunities to be had in the low/lower budget arena? However, I don't think this will be cheap (BM cheap), but more in line with RED maybe? It'll be interesting to see what sort of resolution they will give it - 2.5k or 4k.

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Regardless of what the pocket did to S16 prices, there's a pretty good wealth of knowledge out there of what lenses work well, which look great, what are the sleeps/keepers/and dogs. If Arri makes an S16, I imagine it wouldn't be a stretch for a lens manufacturer to do a cinema zoom for the thing - keep it in the price point of the camera and it could sell. Or at least a purpose-built speedbooster.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

From an attendees experience the camera shown was an Arri Amira body missing a few buttons (of which are the ND wheel), shoulder pad and top handle, just a stripped down small tripod Version to replace s16 film cameras in film schools. Normal Amira menu options grayed out were reported. 

About whether it's an Amira sensor but just working in crop mode, or a s16 size cut of the sensor, they couldn't tell as a s16 lens was attached. Although, in the OP article, I see they say a simplified Amira with a s16 "mode", which means a firmware crop. 

Anyhow I highly doubt this camera will go to mass production. The introduction specifically entirely spoke of industrial applications, film schools. So if it does go into production, Arri will most likely provide them at undisclosed cost of purchase or rental and it will never have a retail price or ability to pick one up. 

I don't believe Arri will make dedicated new s16 sensors for this model, they'll use the already mass produced alexa sensors and apply a firmware crop (all Alexa/Amira cameras share the same chip but firmware just allows different sizes), I wouldn't excpect this to be any different. And based upon that, this is most like a value of 20-25K if it were ever to be sold (it won't). 

My take: Looks like Arri are making a dive to market themselves as the replacement of film, and this is one of these marketing initiatives. Produce some s16 crop stripped down bodies and ship to the world's best schools. But just that, not a camera they intend or even CAN sell at the cost they will have to make it for. So, just a marketing-based industrial thing and has nothing to do with us probably. 

****by the way, if the super 35 1.5x crop is 2.8K, what's the s16 resolution range. 1080p? 720p? 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Not an Amira and not a newly designed camera. An Amira stripped off hardware and software first to decrease cost and second to act as a traditional s16 film camera. 

on how it looks, I was told "it"s like a PL Amira's center box without a few buttons and connections, ND wheel is missing, and the menus show many grayed out items". 

Speculation from my side: 

-NDs missing for traditional matte boxes 

-HDSDI, Genlock, timecode connections, 

-Maybe even Audio box and entire XLRs box, meters monitor, to act as a film camera (just a 3.5mm)

-Less buttons on the left side, just the essential exposure ones. 

-Integrated shoulder rig and top handle 

-EVF could be sold separately

-All the fancy paint options and looks,

-Just HD s16, no 2.8K S35 or 3.4K APS-H 

-No 200FPS mode, 

-Bluetooth headphone, Wifi, 3D LUTs, AWB tracking, 

There's a lot they can do to produce a s16 educational camera, these omissions could all result in much cheaper camera to build in internal and external hardware, that works as a perfect replacement for S16 film cameras in schools. Just expose, frame, shoot in LOG, post process. (Much cheaper than an Amira is still VERY expensive though, I don't think they plan on selling but value is probably going to be 20K-ish, so all this topic talk on Blackmagic rival and Bolex and sub 5000$ is not really going to happen)

This is whatI understood from Arri's words on the camera. Not something we should think about or plan on buyin soon. Just an industrial solution. 

It's a very nice marketing idea, and Bolex tried taking that deal before but failed for an unknown reason. It would help establish Arri's reputation as the negative film replacement even more than it is. 

 

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It is a very smart move by Arri, as they want to have film students learning on Arri cameras right from that start. As then when they graduate they'll move on up (or at least keep on aspiring) to use Arri's "big boy" cameras. 

Arri can't let young filmmakers start on an A7s mk2, then move on up the chain of FS5/FS7/F5/F55/F65!! 

So this plan will keep them in the loop for the long term, and keep on feeding in hungry new filmmakers who want to use Arri's top of the line cameras (and not just be left with only the old guys who grew up on Arri's film cameras who then moved on over to Arri's digital cameras, which is where a lot of Arri's current success comes from. Aside from Arri's undoubtedly quality that is with their Arri Alexa cameras, but as we've often seen... quality alone is not enough to determine success! Poor Samsung NX1.... :-( :-/ ). 

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  • 2 months later...

My math indicates a S16 crop of the Arri Alexa S35 2.8K sensor would be 1.2K (or other words, a tiny bit less than 720P).

Even if they stuffed a S16 720P camera with features  (ND filters, raw, ProRes, multiple SDI outputs, LUT options, slow motion, etc) I can't see such a 720P camera having much appeal in 2016 aside from being an educational tool.

 

Certainly they could safely release an Arri Alexa S16 720P camera without worrying about it cutting into their main camera sales.

 

Edit:

Curious... I googled for more info and found it has been confirmed it is coming:

 

http://www.imago.org/index.php/news/item/374-arri-edc-educational-digital-camera-16-mm.html

 

It is a S16 crop of the Arri Alexa sensor but strangely it is FHD??? Wonder if they're doing the same sneaky uprezzing to get "4K" like they do with others, so perhaps it is 720 uprezzed to 1080

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Let's just hope the sucker will have an optical viewfinder!

It's a bit cynical to think it is Arri's marketing team instal brand recognition with young filmmakers, they've already earned the 'gold standard' and everybody knows it. It's obviously not a money making enterprise by them, and highly doubt these cameras will ever be sold elsewhere. Arri is the only company who have survived the transition from film to digital camera manufacture...why? - because they know how to make cameras that crews can work with, and simply listen to DP's and implement the look and function into a suitable digital incarnation. This is why the company has lasted for 99 years and still going strong.

I suspect it is this recognition and respect for filmmakers that is the drive behind this move, by keeping the more traditional film school techniques alive - everyone wins.

You can have all the full frame 48k sensors cameras with gun rail mounts all you want, but at the end of the day a nice image is a nice image, regardless of resolution. Arri knew this from the start. Red Weapon looks great, but i'm pretty unimpressed by seeing hyper sharp detail in movies...nature documentaries and for visual effects purposes may be a better application.

LOLA effects (digital makeup pioneers) are going to be damn busy in the coming years if lots of feature films are to be shot on weapon and it's hyper detail capability in closeups. Lead actors already have contracts that require their approval of appearance from digital touch up cosmetic work before a film gets released (I'm looking at you Carrie fisher). There was an amusing period of time where HD became the new thing, and makeup artists were charging extra for their 'HD' makeup kit...now it has climbed to new challenges to conceal skin imperfections and hairs on the top lip of our romantic female lead.

I think it is a superb idea for film schools and alike to have access to this educational camera. It will hopefully stem the flow of young 'DOP's' applying for jobs with no fundamental grasp of filmmaking basics. Having limitation options being able to be imposed is a genius move, next to shooting real 16mm - this is probably the next best thing keep the 'craft' alive...by imposing discipline and highlighting the importance of lighting and composition as well as teaching the ability to creatively solve problems when technical limitations are imposed.

I'd love to see how a few DSLR/ A7s users would react to having ASA limited to 200 and then told to shoot an action night scene. That's a limitation they had in 1987 Verhoeven's Robocop, even then they lit this scene only with very few practicals (mostly fluorescents). Admittedly they were on Zeiss super speeds, but hell...it still looks damn good thanks to the master craft of Jost Vacano.

 

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