Ben Mitchell

Upgrades For Amira

29 May 2015 by Ben Mitchell

UHD upgrade

Alright then, we didn’t see this one coming.  In an amazing twist to the Amira story, ARRI threw expectations to the wall with the announcement of the UHD upgrade.  In addition to shooting in HD and 2K, the ability to gather resolution rich 3840 x 2160 images (up to 60fps) adds yet another dimension to the camera.

With the Amira being such a versatile imaging system, ARRI have had a major player on previously untypical productions such as nature and live broadcast.  It is here where UHD and Amira will prove a spicy marriage.  Though 4K and UHD are not a ‘given’ in broadcasting today, for Amira, there is now an opportunity to future proof programmes in returning to archived UHD rushes as mainstream distribution formats evolve.

uhd_amira_article/amira.jpgYou get nil points for grasping immediately what it means for the practicalities.  Shooting in almost twice the resolution of 2K means almost twice the data rate, requiring more storage and more powerful resources for the back-end.  Those twenty four minutes on a 128gb card (in 2K) will now be a lean twelve minutes, rendering the Amira not so “Pick Up > Shoot” for certain productions…at least for now.  An ‘ARRI friend’ alluded to a new compression efficient wrapper that will drastically lower the data cost per card (firmware deliverable).  Until then, it’s extra cards if there’s long periods between data dumps.

Over the course of several weeks, Amira bodies will patiently wait in line for sensor calibration where the system architecture will be reprogrammed.  To date four of our six bodies have been upgraded.  So until further notice, when hiring please specify if you intend to shoot in UHD mode!

This weekend we bench test the extra pixels and will share a link for your downloading pleasure.



Viewfinder upgrade

For an otherwise hugely appreciated camera, the MVF-1 viewfinder is generally considered a letdown- like an unfortunate wart on your otherwise flawless soul mate.  The ghosting and dominant green hues made it challenging to focus from and the physical design would be an issue of moot importance had it not been from ARRI.

But the greatly improved MVF-2 (with uprated optics and tweaks to accommodate the UHD scaling) are systematically replacing it’s predecessor.  It addresses many of the misgivings with simply better optics for a clearer and sharper viewfinder.  It being clearer, brighter and even from corner to corner.  The improved proximity sensor (to shut off the OLED eyepiece when idle) is smarter and the enhanced ‘off axis’ performance is night and day better for focussing.

New Focus24 Amira touches…

Camera Assistants crave power!  All Amira bodies now include a dual locked 4-way D-tap, so you shouldn’t have to debate for too long on what powers from where.  RS splitters are soon to be included as standard, so very soon you can power as many as six devices off the camera via RS and D-Tap alone.

Our previous one and only Peli option proved a divider of opinion.  Like the Sopranoes finale, there seemed to be no grayscale between love and hate.  Some love the travel friendly portability, others hate the two case layout which involves detaching the EVF.  For those who love it, be assured it lives on. For those who don’t, read on and rejoice.  

A size efficient aluminium case has been diligently plotted to see everything available to you.  It’s the best ‘on set’ option and is the new standard case you’ll receive if you say nothing.  And it looks very pretty.

Finally, with the Amira billed largely as a docco camera for reactionary filming, we have also introduced a purpose designed soft bag by Portabrace.  These are useful for location filming where the camera needs to remain built and ready to shoot faster than the Billy The Kid.

More Amira kit upgrades are in hand including extra cards as standard and UAP-2 top plates (useful for Steadicam and top mounting WLCS systems).  Watch this space!