Wednesday 22 December 2010

Arri Alexa Avid workflow

I keep getting asked about the workflow for editing with Arri Alexa media. Here, people mostly refer to the Apple ProRes 4444 Quicktime movies that the Alexa shoots. In India, as far as I know, we don't (yet) have an Alexa equipped with a Arri RAW recorder, hence ProRes 4444 is, for the moment, Arri Alexa media.


Most people have queries about editing Alexa media on an Avid Media Composer. Particularly Media Composer v 5 which can 'soft import' files without creating Avid MXF or OMF media, just like how FCP imports media.
Older versions compulsorily import media so that's another story.


FCP can easily edit the native files. Or you can batch convert to ProRes LT or ProRes Proxy to save space. 


So, as I began putting down points, I turned to the 'net to check if anyone had reported issues in forums. There were some issues, but these will go away with more work with Alexa and as software improves. So no point taking them up at the present.


While reading up, I came across Oliver Peters very informative blog Digitalfilms. This outlines the process in detail with pictures.


Here is the link
http://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/category/arri-alexa/


You need to try out his procedure first hand on a Avid Media Composer v 5 system to understand the simplicity and elegance of its working. 


Also, if you're working on an Avid Media Composer on Windows, then maybe you need to get the Apple ProRes decoder for Windows.
http://support.apple.com/downloads/Apple_ProRes_QuickTime_Decoder_1_0_for_Windows
That's in case your QT Player on Windows can't open Alexa files. If it can, then don't bother with the plug-in.


Peters also has an explanation for working with Arri Alexa files in FCP. And a link to Nick Shaw's plug-in to make a quick and rough log to lin conversion of Arri LogC Quicktimes. This conversion is for preview purposes only. 


Unfortunately, Apple Color does not do log to lin for QT, only for DPX, else that would have been a great workflow too. 
But if you fiddle with the curves in the Primary room (of Apple Color) as well as, try auto balance you can get a neat looking linear image. You can even get carried away and believe you can grade your media yourself. In that case, get yourself a Tangent Wave or Euphonix grading panel, and a good experienced colourist, and who knows, you can do DI at home.


More on Alexa adventures as I lay my hand on some stuff to do myself.