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On-Set: VFX data gathering with Arri Alexa

By Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull

A few months ago I was VFX supervising on location for a rather large-scale commercial shot on the lovely Arri Alexa.

Whenever I am doing on-set VFX supervising, one of the many things I do is take notes of the lens used, height of jib crane, F-stops, FOV etc. To do this I usually hassle the camera assistants for that info and then scribble it down as we move onto the next shot and setup.

But when things start changing, such as different takes with different angles and lens or new setups made on the fly, it can be a nightmare to keep on top of all the camera info.

So on this particular commercial shoot, as I passed the DIT guy, I noticed he was dumping the footage using the Arri Raw Converter (freely available from the Arri Website).

I noticed as he clicked on the Info tab there was the usual metadata of timecode, roll number, frame rate speed, aspect ratio etc., but there were two other tabs available.

As he clicked on those tabs, at my request, I was surprised to see all the notes I had been taking down manually were being captured automatically and intelligently with the built-in software in the Alexa camera. It captured all the things I needed from lens size (35mm etc.) to type of lens used (Argenieux 19.5 – 94mm) to focal distance and right down to tilt and roll angle of the camera!

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The only notes I had to take in terms of camera data were the start and end height of the camera on the jib arm, and the height of the camera from the ground.

The workflow between DIT and VFX is very tightly knitted, and the sharing of data is now much more possible compared to before. This got me thinking, that Arri has really created a camera designed for the demands of VFX shoots.

If they continue to develop their camera software, I can see why this camera is becoming the preferred choice for shoots involving VFX.

Dulull is a freelance VFX producer as well as a movie director (his film Project Kronos is currently in development). He has been nominated for several VES awards for his VFX supervision. He is also principal at his own production company HaZ Film.

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