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Alexa Open Gate anamorphic - benefits and workflow

Jim Edgar

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I’ve never shot Open Gate 2x anamorphic on the Alexa, figuring that the heavy cropping required to achieve scope ratio would seem to make this a rather redundant practice in ‘normal’ shooting situations. Not to mention image circle coverage issues.

However I know there are some VFX-heavy productions, such as Jumanji The Next Level and Zombieland Double Tap, that captured at 3.4k using anamorphics, and want to understand the workflow for VFX and upscaling if going this route.

I’m shooting a feature in a couple of months, for a 4k anamorphic DCI delivery target intended for theatrical release and streaming platforms. 

Due to various logistical and budgetary reasons, we’ll be shooting A-cam on Sony Venice1 (4k 6:5), and B-cam on Alexa SXT (in arriraw). We also have 2 days with the Phantom Flex 4k. B-cam will be heavily used throughout.

The movie is a period action film, 1950s, with a fair amount of VFX work required. Nothing too complex, mostly cityscape skyline replacement/creation on exterior establishers, and removing modern elements from period street locations. There are also several gunfights (incl one exterior on streets and one inside a delicate period mansion), that will require  some background VFX (muzzle flash, bullet strikes etc) to supplement the foreground practical SFX.

My questions are therefore related to the B-cam footage shot on the SXT.

1. Is OG a better capture format for VFX work and/or upscaling than simply shooting 4:3 or 6:5, given the circumstances?
2. Is mixing upscaled Alexa footage with the Venice and Phantom going to cause me any major problems?

Obviously I’ll be having an in depth call with VFX to discuss all this, but they are based overseas and there is some risk of miscommunication/misunderstanding on either side, so I wanted to understand this fully before talking to them.

Many thanks in advance for any help, advice or guidance anyone can give.

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