Filmmaking is a complicated process. With a lot of expertise, Filmmakers need the right kind of equipment to create the exact feel they want to portray through their work. Among all the equipment, the quality of the cinematography depends significantly on choosing the right camera. And there is no question that ARRI cameras are a mainstay of Hollywood productions. ARRI has been a trustable name in Hollywood for many decades. But have you ever wondered why ARRI cameras are so popular even after having so many high-end cameras in the market? Let’s scroll down to dig into this very topic.
ARRI’s History with Hollywood
ARRI is a Munich-based camera company established in 1917. The first camera that the company launched for cinematography is the ARRIFLEX 35 in 1936. The second version of this camera was released soon after the second world war, and it became widely popular in Hollywood. ARRI was also used in iconic cinemas like Easy Rider, released in 1969. In the upcoming years, few more movies like Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, The Shining, and many more availed ARRI cameras for their production. By 2017, about 80% of major motion picture productions used ARRI cameras for their films.
So the point is- ARRI cameras have been in the industry for quite a time now. And big production companies are familiar with the ecosystem of ARRI. Moreover, Hollywood is a bit conservative when it comes to a new brand. So when RED entered the market with its digital cinema cameras, the filmmakers still preferred ARRI cameras. For them, it was not convenient to shift from ARRI to other cinema cameras as it would require them to create a whole new ecosystem for that camera, which undoubtedly involved a significant amount of cost. Besides, what is the need for switching if the existing one offers everything you are looking for in a camera for film production?
Convenient Form Factor
What sets the ARRI cameras apart from every other cinema camera in the market is their unique design. There are physical buttons on the side of the camera for almost every important camera function. Additionally, the creation of each ARRI camera puts the thought process of filmmakers first, where ease of use and quickly navigating through different settings has been given the highest priority. On top of that, there are programmable hotkeys to customize the functionality of the buttons.
As for the filmmakers, every day of shooting costs a lot of money. So how quickly and conveniently a cinema camera can get the job done is another key factor. And ARRI cameras, with their convenient form factor and intuitive design, offer a high-speed workflow.
Sensor and Video Quality
Another standout point of ARRI cameras is- every camera is equipped with the same old sensor, the ALEV III. This proves how confident they are with their sensor and how high-end the sensor is. Working with the same sensor also allows directors to benefit from their previous experience of using ARRI cameras and work more effectively. Though different models use different sizes, the sensor technology is the same in all the cameras.
Another point is- ARRI’s selling point has never been the resolution, it’s always just been getting the picture right. The quality of the footage is second to none. For example, in the Skyfall movie, Roger Deakins, the cinematographer of the film, has done a tremendous job with the ALEXA camera which looked better than the videos of other cinema cameras with native 4k shooting ability.
The most striking point of ARRI cameras is their exceptional cinematic look. ARRI cameras are equipped with the image processing capabilities necessary to create a cinematic look, with which the viewers are familiar since the dawn of film. Besides, ARRI’s color reproduction and grain texture set it apart from its competitors, because its cameras are designed to capture more textured and softer images whilst still retaining the most detail. This is where other competitors like RED fall way behind. For example, “the collateral”, a movie released in 2004 was shot on RED Viper and the video seemed more of digital footage and couldn’t produce the same cinematic and filmy look that ARRI cameras are capable of.
A focus on color science by the company’s engineers is continuing to pay off. ARRI cameras are famous for producing industry-leading natural skin tones. With its highly sensitive imaging system, it’s capable of maintaining dynamic range at all sensitivity settings. ARRI cameras provide such incredible details in highlights and shadows that no other cinema camera can match.
The ARRI’s ecosystem is convenient enough to offer camera operators and directors to avail a surround-view. Besides, it allows them to see the edge of the frame. These cameras also offer to record the full extent of the sensor, which is particularly helpful for VFX.
Now let’s talk about the most popular raw file type, the ARRIRAW. It is the uncompressed, unencrypted and uncompromised format of sensor data captured by ARRI cameras. It offers full data and other vital information from the sensor allowing for maximum post-production flexibility.
The ARRIRAW also lets you preserve the natural color response and exposure of your camera in the form of unprocessed and uncompressed sensor data.
The most unique benefit about the ARRIRAW over other raw formats is its ability to manage poor lighting situations. Besides, this is the industry-leading raw format for projects where heavy color correction is required in post-production. On top of that, ARRIRAW also provides more flexibility to the visual artists for manipulating videos for VFX. While other raw formats like ProRes show compression artifacts in heavy post-production work, ARRIRAW stays clean in those situations.
So that was all about the ARRI cameras and the reason why they are so popular in Hollywood. It is clear that ARRI cameras come with superior quality, excellent dynamic range, and a market-leading ecosystem for the cinema industry.