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gustavo godinho

Arri Alexa Classic for a very slow budget film: tips, please

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Hi.

 

I will shoot (direct/dp/camera op) my first feature, a very small budget documentary style comedy with non actors shot in brazil. I'm thinking about making things differently this time. Rather than shoot with lightweight compact gear, I've been thinking about renting an alexa classic, since renting prices dropped a lot lately and now seems to fit the budget. How crazy it sounds considering small crew, one camera assistant only and a lot of handheld stuff? Being more specific about my inquiries - and considering I never shot with an alexa:

 

1- I'm I completely wrong or an alexa classic shooting pro res internal, almost no accessories attached to it (no monitors, maybe only a remote focus system), sounds more ergonomic and easy to operate on shoulder than a smaller camera like a C200/EVA1 with a shoulder rig?

 

2- if you guys would pick a system for a very small budget film, with a bunch of non actors, would it be something compact and light like a canon C200/EVA1 or bulky like an alexa with cooke S4 set of lenses for image quality? How slow will an alexa inevitably make the production? How run and gun can it get? Latitude is import, we're talking about shooting exactly over the equator line.

Edited by gustavo godinho

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You're probably better off putting the budget into lighting rather than a super expensive body like Alexa. Make sure it has at least 12 stops of DR.

 

Look at the URSA Mini 4.6k, will shoot prores internal to SD cards.

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Alexa is tough for a tiny crew, it's power hungry, so requires a lot of battery management, plugging into mains when possible. And the weight requires a solid tripod, which adds yet more weight to carry around.

 

The highlight handling of the Arri, makes lighting on a budget much easier though, and the pictures are as good as they get.

 

These things are always a trade off. I generally opt for the Arri whenever production can afford it. But if we're running and gunning with minimal support, it wouldn't be my first choice (as other priorities rate higher than image quality some times).

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Doesn't sound too crazy apart from the weight slowing you down. Lack of ND would be annoying and require a Mattbox. Its probably going to be PL mount so most zooms are going to be big heavy etc...

 

I think the positives would be that its good is low light, so you can use this to your advantage by perhaps needing smaller lights and also being able to stop down and get some depth of field. If your self shooting and pulling my own focus then a deep stop is your friend.

 

I guess the Amira would be dream camera in this situation

 

The Alexa also has a wide dynamic range - this can speed up lighting on set because you don't need to control contrast as much. On a lesser camera you might need to stick ND gel on a window to balance exposure and in the same situation you might get away without on the Alexa - blown highlights tend to look better on the Alexa then many cams.

 

Working with cameras with poor dynamic range can slow you down. I did a shoot on the Blackmagic 4k last year and it was easy to send it into clipping. Lighting for these cameras takes longer, since you have to nail the exposure and they need good monitoring on set. Alexa can be treated a bit more like a film camera in the sense you've got more wiggle room.

 

The other advantage to Alexa is the image tends to look good out the box, so less grading needed in post. You can edit the prores and have good looking footage with a simple grade with simple tools. Many RAW workflows require an additional transcode step an in some cases take a bit longer to grade.

 

I'm considering a similar thing for my next project, I have access to a Sony FS7 so that would be obvious choice, especially if I self shoot (not decided). But I'm thinking the Alexa look is pretty special and the classics are getting cheaper to hire, so I wonder....

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