Digital cameras and Post Production - helping Directors, DPs, Producers and Editors

Digital cameras and Post Production - helping Directors, DPs, Producers and Editors

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Thomas

Red or Alexa

Owner, The Look - Post Production Facility

So! The big question.

Well, the first big issue you'll have is getting hold of an Alexa if you want to shoot on one.
Certainly, if you can source one, the camera has that Arri stamp, which is worth its weight in gold. One criticism I've had of Red is the beta nature and forum committee involved, it was a revolution, but some of the people spearheading it were not film-makers, but rather geeks or pro-sumers who didn't even know what a prime lense was.

At least with the Arri Alexa, there is the support network, I've experienced it first hand this week as I've been speaking directly with the Arri guys here in the UK - something which would be near on impossible for me with regards to the Red guys, despite them being very nice when I have met them.

Either way, the Red gives great images, and the new Mysterium X chip delivers great images - and it has slow-mo (not available on Arri Alexa unless you're shooting on HDcamSR at present).

Workflow wise, if you're cutting on Alexa, the Pro-res files from the SxS will go straight in to your FCP (not with Red), if you're on Avid, the Alexa and Red are much the same as the material really needs to be transcoded to make editing easy (too slow otherwise in my opinion).

From my point of view, both come in about the same speed in to my system for the grade so I dont care.

Picture wise, the Red gives a clean, digital stills like image - it can be so lifelike and impressive its almost like being there. With the Arri, the image seems move filmic to me, more in tune with 35mm roll-offs and feels more natural to the eye for cinematic viewing.

The Alexa can currently shoot in two ways, Log-C (filmic roll-offs and very low contrast image) or REC 709 (standard high contrast video image). The former is preferred by most DPs as it can be manipulated into a more filmic look and should give greater latitude for the grade, the latter is easier for offline as the colour and black/white points are already normal, so no grading in the Avid/FCP which is without question a pain for editorial. The DP will need to test both, and decide, with production, which seems to be the best for the project. For my mind, I like the Log-C approach as I feel its gives me a little more control, but the difference isn't as great as one might think.........

Either way, both cameras are good, so its down to the DP to make the call - and of course THE BUDGET!!!

  • Comment (10)
  • January 10, 2011
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  • Daniel M.

    Daniel

    Daniel M.

    Company Owner at Pure Digital Services & Rogue Element Films

    Alexa for me I'm afraid. Now we have Arriraw running properly and seeing Log-C as uncompressed DPXs the Alexa for me is more like the camera I would want to deliver images for me. Raw looks stunning, Log-C looks terrific and ProRes as an offline looks great. Budget always talks but we are now shooting three Raw pictures and two Log-C DPX TV shows at the budgets those shows dictate.
    It can be done.

  • sony S.

    sony

    sony S.

    Lead Android Developer at Evergreen Publication (INDIA) Ltd

    well RED approach is "great sensor with very good camera around it"
    & ARRI approach is "great camera with very good sensor inside it".
    resolution wise i feel both are same (if RAW).RED contains more pixel (but they are interpolated ).
    both can be compared only if you take RAW out of them. Prores REC709 is more like HD video prores LogC lies in between. (i did a test last week)
    but RAW recorder for ARRI are harder to find. RED comes with it within.
    ARRI gives more filmic feel because it has mechanical shutter in it (i think so).
    but look wise they both give great images (although each has its own feel, like Thomson viper has different from Sony HDCAM),
    while many things come into play during post production. RED has rocket advantage.
    Here in India RED is more economical in comparison to ARRIRAW (although ARRIRAW recorder is not available but is promised for next few weeks). Alexa is available but with prores and IMO it's not fare to compare them because for me ARRIProRes relates to another league of HD cinema cameras.
    And well... choice of lenses also dictates the final output
    ARRI is built for this but RED is not much behind

  • José Alejandro A.

    José Alejandro

    José Alejandro A.

    director: digital cinematography and visual effects

    I agree with the astute comments above. The tie-breaker for me is the amazingly simple menu system on the Alexa. I can see all my vital stats at all times, and can change any one of them quickly without navigating a cumbersome menu system. ARRI has really set a new bar for usability.
    RED ONE is the exact opposite - incoherent menu system. I have not worked with EPIC yet, and hope this has improved.

  • Lucy J.

    Lucy

    Lucy J.

    DOP | Cinematographer | Producer | Film Industry | Editor | VFX | Project manager | http://vimeo.com/lucyjones

    Hi guys I'm guessing you might have seen this already but just encase. There is some interesting comparisons in it.
    http://www.zacuto.com/the-great-camera-shootout-2011/episode-one

  • Patrick C.

    Patrick

    Patrick C.

    Owner/Cinematographer at Bandit Images Inc.

    :The Alexa and Alexa Plus have an electronic shutter, the Alexa Studio with have a mechanical shutter.

  • Albert R.

    Albert

    Albert R.

    Motion Pictures and Film Professional

    They had an Alexa seminar here at Savannah College of Art and Design, during the Savannah Film Festival. The Arri guy, Gunter, was great. The Alexa seems to have an easier menu system then the RED. The LogC looks brilliant. There was a demo reel which looked amazing. I still think the Red looks more like film, but we'll have to see once I get a chance to play around with it.

  • José Alejandro A.

    José Alejandro

    José Alejandro A.

    director: digital cinematography and visual effects

    Now that RED Scarlet is announced, it's pretty tempting for only $10 - $15k. Shoots higher res than Alexa right out of the box.
    Alexa is still ahead on menu/ergonomics and film-like look, so if money is no object...

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