Ben Mitchell

Alexa’s had a baby

19 Mar 2015 by Ben Mitchell

BVE is a nice event in the industry calendar.  It’s a chance to catch up with familiar faces and spend a fortune in your head.  I can’t remember a year however where it has held the mic for a key industry announcement.  Well then, the 2015 show swept that assertion aside with ARRI officially revealing it’s latest major product.

The Alexa family continues to grow with the ‘Mini’ landing at a shoot near you as early as June.  Murmurs of a baby Alexa did the rounds before BVE, so why should we be excited?  

ARRI appear intent on giving us an Alexa for every occasion, with the excellent Amira* also firmly in the ALEV III sensor circle of trust.  So there is little to say here.  This is an Alexa imaging system so we know what to expect…a cinematic tool with RAW and anamorphic capabilities.

How mini is Mini?  The boards are wrapped in a super lightweight carbon fibre chassis.  It’s a compact little number too, being about the size of a RED Epic or a Nintendo Gamecube.  Or to be more precise 185 x 125 x 140mm.  If your next shot is on a vehicle, drone or rig then the Mini will be the natural choice.  However we also envisage a lot of lone operators opting for it on fast turnaround shoots.

It’s small size comes with compromises elsewhere of course.  It has been stripped of many processing and physical features to make the published 2.3kg possible (body and lens mount only).  Make no mistake this is a streamlined Alexa that is designed to help you move quickly and gather your content.  

The interface is extremely economical with there being as little as six buttons and two video outputs on the body (HD-SDI).  As with the Amira all camera functions are via an MVF-2 (TBC) viewfinder, a significantly improved product albeit still awaiting approval from some DoP’s and camera operators.  There is of course WiFi control too, but way slicker is via an ARRI WCU-4 lens control system which patches directly into the electronic lens mount… all without the need of the an on board brain.

It would seem for larger productions the hardcore full size remains king.  Your cinematography goals are unhindered with a Mini.  However the form factor will invariably present practical limitations if the camera department were hoping to power multiple third party tech from the camera.  Although not a deal breaker it’s worth noting that Mini has no audio capabilities. 

But fear not, this tiny box of cinematic power has it where it counts and some of the more impressive features continue on from the Amira:

  • 200fps in ProRes
  • Native Uncompressed ARRIRAW up to 30fps.  120fps with inclusion of the Codex recorder
  • Internal camera grading
  • Internal ND filters
  • Interchangeable lens mounts
  • Impending resolution upgrades including 4K UHD

We expect the Mini to mix things up and Focus24 will be at the front of the queue on release.  We are planning a production to thoroughly bench test the Mini, and you can depend on a comprehensive review immediately upon wrap.  

We recognise many people will be very interested in how the Mini performs practically, so if you would like to be involved in the production please contact me at ben@focus24.tv 

Thanks for reading.

*No RAW or anamorphic capabilities