《电影与数字时代》杂志关于 ALEXA SUP 9.0 的访谈(完结)

你们在哪里开发软件?

马克:全部在德国开发。相当多的工作都在慕尼黑这边进行。我们摄影机的重要组成部分就是软件,最让我感叹的是测试环节花费的时间精力。胶片机的测试部门大概只有三四个人。现在我们的测试有相当复杂的步骤。当某个软件编写完成之后,首先交给研发部门进行内部测试,一旦测试发现问题会交给程序员返工,接着再做内部测试,直到他们满意为止。下一步就是交给亨宁的团队完成了,这些测试更符合实际使用的情况而且有着挑战极限的高强度,他们做这个可是相当拿手的。

 

亨宁:是啊。研发部门都讨厌我们。

 

马克:要是他们发现问题的话,程序员会做修改。亨宁的团队觉得可以通过之后,品控部门会再做一轮测试并检查每个细节。实际情况是部分环节同时进行,但所有软件都会经过这一整套完整的测试。

 

摄影机绝对不能在拍摄的时候软件卡壳。所以说偷工减料是万万不行的,那么多的测试都是为了保证万无一失。这个过程相当繁琐,因为一旦改动一个地方,整个测试就得全部重来一遍。


在欧洲,哪种剪辑软件比较受欢迎?

 

亨宁:根据市场定位有所区别。广告片和电视节目基本都靠Avid。Adobe在广电领域势头也很强劲。纪录片和低成本制作一般使用Adobe Premiere和Final Cut Pro。

 

马克:我觉得好莱坞和高端制作都用Avid,但剪的都是代理文件。ProRes出现之后用压缩格式拍摄才变多起来,而且现在DNxHD也开始慢慢被人接受了。

 

有人用DNxHD格式拍吗?

 

马克:有些片子用了DNxHD,但是现在才刚起步。其实我们也感觉挺意外的,当时以为DNxHD的使用率会很高。这次SUP 9.0版加入了最高画质的版本DNxHD 444,我想应该会有越来越多的人开始选用这个格式吧。

 

你觉得客户会用Avid格式制作还是传统的ProRes?

 

亨宁:我觉得大部分人还在使用传统的ProRes格式。但我们都很期待能有更多人使用DNxHD配合Log C拍摄。DNxHD 444比之前改进很大,质量上跟ProRes 4444也没什么区别。抠像的时候能保证最好的效果。数据精度是10 bit,码率也相当高。

 

大部分高端制作、广告片和电影都用什么格式制作?

 

马克:大部分高端广告片和电影用ARRIRAW,其它则用ProRes 4444 Log C。

 

ARRIRAW的制作流程是怎样的?

 

亨宁:DaVinci Resolve一直在进化。很多人选择直接在Resolve里套底和调色。9.1版和10.0版的画面质量非常优秀并且通过了ARRIRAW认证。我们这边也很喜欢用,去拜尔的效果和ARRIRAW转换器是一样的。

 

很多人都使用Resolve配合ARRIRAW进行后期制作,当然这也取决于后期公司自己的软件配置。包括Autodesk Smoke,Falme,Lustre,Scratch,Cliipster,Nucoda和Pablo都整合了ARRIRAW SDK来优化ARRIRAW的处理效率。另外,也有人用Codex做去拜尔或是在Baselight里进行后期制作。这些工具也都通过了ARRIRAW认证。

 

马克:SDK软件开发包让软件厂商把我们的去拜尔算法整合进相应的产品中。而Resolve则自己编写了去拜尔算法,我觉得跟ARRI官方的不相上下。

 

你在ARRI影视部门用什么软件呢?

 

亨宁:ARRI影视部门一直以来都混用各种软件。之前我买了一套Digital Vsion Nucoda,因为我觉得来自胶片工作间的传统调色师对这套系统会更熟悉,应该是最容易上手的。当时Lustre非常昂贵。不过我们还是购进了德国第一套Lustre系统,现在一共有两套,Lustre非常复杂,上手也比较困难。因为做广告片的人特别偏爱Baselight,我们也安装了几套。所以说我们什么都用。后来我和流程部门的团队买了Resolve还和Blackmagic Design建立了良好的合作关系。

 

在线编辑源文件的时候都用什么呢?

 

亨宁:做摄影机测试和类似工作的时候我们全部使用Resolve。

 

时间线回批和调色都用Resolve完成吗?

 

亨宁:是的,整个过程完全自动。回批需要的时间刚好可以去泡杯咖啡。我也不想在昏暗的调色间呆太久。

 

客户是直接买新ALEXA XT机器还是只升级XR模块?

 

马克:情况比较复杂。起初升级XR模块的人比较多。但是现在正好反过来了。买新ALEXA XT机器的人更多。最有意思的事情就是他们并没有像我们预想的那样把旧机器转手。相当多的租赁公司会在现有原有机型的基础上购入XT系列。他们把原版ALEXA租给低成本制作。而XT系列则租给对器材要求很高的片子。我另外还发现胶片基本上已经完全没落了,所以市场上30%的胶片制作要用数字机替换。我认为整个产业需要更多数字机来接替胶片机。XT系列机器做的非常成功。

 

也有很多片子使用不只一台机器拍。每个场景都用多机位。所以一部剧情片可能会用到三至九台不同配置的摄影机。

 

亨宁:我真同情那些片子的剪辑师。

 

但是对你来说是好事吧,能卖那么多机器。

 

马克:我最近在更新官网。目前我们总共有11个型号的摄影机,3个编码许可,5种不同的模式、感光件尺寸、升格、降格。所以列出一个清晰明了的图表很有必要。

 

亨宁:我们的在线技术讲座每周都会讨论一些问题,就像教学短片一样。马克同亨德里克和其他人一起介绍产品。亨德里克是无线附件部门的产品经理。网站已经发布超过50部讲解ARRIRAW转换器的短片。我们讨论过编写一本手册,但是后来还是决定制作这些二分半长度的视频(见文章末尾链接)。这样可以直接把相应问题的解答以视频链接形式提供给用户。比如有人咨询“如何从ARRIRAW文件里提取元数据?”,我就直接发给他一个视频链接,花二分半看完之后就明白了。

 

软件升级包10.0版有什么新功能?

 

马克:这个我们还没定,有些东西也还在讨论之中。我这里有份超过500个功能建议的清单。而且数字还在不断增加,这是好事。很多客户都会给我们发来建议,或者测试部门的某个人会找我说:“马克,我们在这个地方加个目录项就更好用了。”

 

于是我会搜集所有的建议,能看到大家这么高的积极性我也很欣慰。每次开发新版软件升级的时候预算当然是有限的,我会挑出最有价值的建议并评估成本、风险、涉及到的人员和开发周期。之后我们再做决定。目前我们就在这个过程之中,可能2014年年初会有个最终方案。

 

一些客户告诉我们说,很高兴看到ARRI能一直提供重要的功能升级。这些摄影机就像我们的孩子一样,当然要让他们变得更优秀。现实一点讲,可以反映出ARRI的超长产品周期这个经营模式相当成功。

 

相关链接:

FDT网站链接

http://www.fdtimes.com/

ARRIRAW转换器在线教程

http://www.arri.com/camera/digital_cameras/learn/arriraw_converter_tutorials/

 
FDT interview about ALEXA SUP 9.0 (III)

 

Where do you do the software?

 

Marc: It’s all German software. A lot is done right here in Munich. A lot of our camera is software, but the thing that really surprised me is how much we have to do in testing. With our film cameras we had a testing department with maybe three or four people. We now have a huge testing procedure that goes in steps. When a piece of software is written it goes first to the research and development internal testing department. They do the first testing. If anything is wrong, it goes back to the programmers. Then back to the R&D internal testing department, until they find it OK. Then it goes to the second stage testing, with some people in Henning’s group who are more practical and try to break it. They’re very good at it.

 

Henning: Yes, we are good. R&D hates us.

 

Marc: When they find bugs, it goes back to the programmers. When Henning’s people think it’s okay then it goes to the quality control department who do their own round of testing and look at everything. In reality, some of this happens in parallel, but all software goes through the whole process.

 

A camera cannot have a software crash on set or on location. That’s why you don’t want to cut any corners and all these testers are there to make sure. It’s tedious. You change one thing, you have to retest everything over and over again.

 

In Europe, what are people using mostly for editing?

 

Henning: It depends on the market. Commercials and broadcast are very much Avid driven. Adobe is getting stronger, mainly in the broadcast industry. Documentaries and low budget productions are using Adobe Premiere and Final CutPro.

 

Marc: I think editing in Hollywood and on high-end features happens in Avid, but that’s mostly as proxies. The idea of mastering onto a compressed format really started with ProRes. It is slowly starting to take a foot hold with DNxHD.

 

Are they mastering in DNxHD?


Marc: There are some productions mastering in DNxHD, but it’s a slow start. We were actually surprised. We thought there would be many more people doing this. Now in SUP 9.0 we have DNxHD 444, which is the highest quality DNx, we think there will be more people mastering that way.

 

You think they’ll be mastering on the Avid or are they still going to finish traditionally?


Henning: I think most are finishing traditionally. But we would like to see DNx productions shooting in Log C. DNxHD 444 is a big improvement and quite equalto ProRes 4×4. It also has the possibility of providing very good keying capabilities. It’s 10-bit and the data rate is high.

 

What are most of the high-end jobs, commercials and features, finishing on right now?

 

Marc: Most high-end commercials and feature films are going ARRIRAW and the rest are ProRes 4×4 (ProRes 4444) Log C.

 

How are they finishing the ARRIRAW jobs?


Henning: DaVinci Resolve is getting stronger and stronger. Many conform and color grade in Resolve. It’s actually ARRIRAW certified now since Version 9.1 and Version 10 and has a very good image quality. We like it very much and think it has the same debayer quality as the ARRIRAW converter.

 

A lot of people are using Resolve for ARRIRAW finishing, but of course, this depends on what the postproduction company has installed. The ARRIRAW SDK is also used on Autodesk Smoke, Flame, Lustre, Scratch, Clipster, Nucoda, and Pablo to easily process ARRIRAW in the best quality. Also, many use the Codex debayer or finish in Baselight. Those tools are also ARRIRAW certified.

 

Marc: SDK (Software Developers Kit) means they have our debayering engine and put it in their product. Resolve has written their own debayering engine which we consider on par with ours.

 

What are you using at ARRI Film & TV Services?


Henning: At ARRI Film & TV it’s historically like a mixed drugstore. A while ago, I bought Digital Vision Nucoda systems because I felt that traditional color timers coming from the film lab would feel comfortable with their system. It was the easiest to understand. Lustre was, at that time, very expensive. However, we had the first Lustre in Germany and still have two, but they were more complicated and harder to understand. Commercial people like Baselight very much, so we got those as well. So it’s a mixed bag. Then our workflow crew and I brought in Resolve and built up a good relationship with Blackmagic Design.

 

What are you using for online mostly?

 

Henning: When we do camera tests and that kind of stuff, we’re doing that all on Resolve.

 

You’re doing the assembly and the color grading on Resolve?


Henning: Yes. You know, it’s kind of an automatic process. The assembly takes about the same amount of time for me to get a quick coffee and then it’s done. It is always nice to leave the dark room.

 

Are more people just buying new ALEXA XT cameras, rather than upgrading to the XR?


Marc: More than we thought. At first, more people upgraded. But now we see it’s the other way around. More people are buying the new ALEXA XT cameras. The really interesting thing is they are not selling their old cameras, as we thought they would. A lot of rental houses buy the XT cameras on top of the existing Classic cameras. They want to use the ALEXA Classic camera for lower budget shows. And the XT cameras are for those productions that demand the latest equipment. I also think what’s happened is that unfortunately shooting film has dropped off. So all those people in the 30% of the market that still had been shooting film now also need digital cameras. I think there is a demand for more digital cameras to come to the market to replace the film cameras. The XT cameras have been a huge success.

 

And a lot of productions are shooting with more than just one camera. They are shooting with multiple cameras for every scene. So you’ll see features with 3 to 9 cameras on many setups.

 

Henning: Pity the editors.

 

But good for you, selling a lot of cameras.

 

Marc: I was recently updating the website. We now have 11 cameras with 3 licenses and 5 different modes, sensor sizes, high speed, low speed – so we need really good overview charts.

 

Henning: Our online Tech Talks are little stories of the week—short tutorial films, where Marc and Hendrik and others explain products. Hendrik is our product manager for wireless accessories. We have also posted 50 short videos explaining the ARRIRAW converter. We discussed writing a manual, but we decided to do these short 2½ minute videos instead (see link at end of article). We can guide people directly to a link to a short video that answers their question. For example, “How do I extract metadata froman ARRIRAW file?” I send them a link, they spend 2½ minutes watching and then they know.

 

What do you have in store for us for Software 10?


Marc: Well, we’re still looking at that. There is still some haggling going on. I have a huge list of over 500 feature requests. They keep coming in and that is good. Many customers send me ideas, or somebody from the testing department comes to me and says, “Marc, we could put this menu item here and do this and it’ll all be a little easier.”

 

So I collect all these suggestions and I think it’s great that peoplemake all these suggestions. Whenever we have a new software update we clearly have a limited budget and I’ll try to see what the most important thing is to put into the new software upgrade. Then we assess how much it will cost, what the risk is, who has to work on it, and how long it’ll take, and then we make choices. Right now we are in the process of that and we’ll probably have a finished plan for SUP 10 in early 2014.

 

We’ve gotten feedback from a number of people saying it’s good to see that ARRI continues to provide significant features. We love our cameras and want to make them as good as they can be. And from a slightly less romantic angle I think that makes the business model represented by ALEXA something that really works: long product cycles.

 

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