Arri Alexa Mini, is it ideal for documentary video?
The Arri Alexa Mini is a compact, durable, and lightweight digital cinema camera. Its compact design can be built into a variety of configurations, including shoulder rigs, gimbal systems, and more. Its sealed electronics keep it splash-proof and dust-proof, helping maintain its durability for run-and-gun handheld work. Its carbon-fiber body keeps it light for a shoulder, or camera support device, like a Movi Pro. The Arri Alexa Mini is very well designed for documentary video production. A few additional accessories make the camera perfect for documentaries. Our video quickly demonstrates our recommended shoulder rig build with the Arri Alexa Mini.
What Gear Do I Need?
- Arri Alexa Mini
- Zeiss CZ.2 28-80mm T/2.9 Compact Zoom Lens
- ARRI WCU-4 Cforce 3-Axis FIZ Kit
- Arri Master Grip Kit
- Arri CSP-1 Camera Shoulder Pad (ask a rental coordinator for it!)
- Teradek Bolt Pro 500 XT 3G-SDI/HDMI Kit
- Anton Bauer Digital 190 Four Battery Package
- Flanders Scientific LM-2140W 21″ Monitor Kit
- Sachtler V20 S1 Tripod Kit
The Zeiss 20-80 zoom lens helps render a sharp subject with distinct and fast focus roll-off. The lens also offers cooler color rendering relative to other lenses in its class. The lens’s focal length range is ideal for run-and-gun documentary work, because you will avoid switching lenses, and its robust structure will accommodate the push and pull of the Arri FIZ motors. The ARRI WCU-4 FIZ Kit works literally hand-to-hand with the Arri Master Grip Kit by controlling the focus, iris, and zoom on your lens. The Arri Master Grips also control record functions, and assignable user buttons for your camera. A Teradek Bolt 500 transmitter is mounted to the camera body to transmit a video signal, up to 500ft, to a receiver attached to a Flanders Scientific 21″ production monitor for your video village.
Another virtue of using the Zeiss 20-80 zoom lens is that it has an interchangeable lens mount. A PL Mount can be attached to the lens. This is important in this setup, because the Arri FIZ motors draw power from a connector on the camera’s PL mount. The camera also has an interchangeable lens mount; however, the EF Mount for the Alexa Mini does not have the connector needed to easily power the Arri FIZ motors. EF Mount camera configurations will require additional cable wrangling to power the Arri FIZ motors. We recommend using a lens and camera build with PL mounts, if you are able.
How do we power all the gear?
The Alexa Mini is powered by an Anton Bauer Digital 190 battery mounted to the rear of the camera. The Teradek Bolt 500 TX (transmitter) is powered by the same battery using a P-tap to 2pin LEMO cable included in the Teradek Kit. The Arri WCU-4 FIZ Kit draws power from the LBUS connector on the camera’s PL lens mount to the ARRI cforce mini RF Motor with a short cable. The other motors and master grips draw power from the daisy-chain of cables that starts at the RF motor. A second Anton Bauer Digital 190 battery mounts to and powers the Flanders Scientific 21″ production monitor, and also powers the Teradek Bolt 500 RX (receiver), which is also mounted to the back of the monitor.
How do we mount all the gear?
The entire rig is built on a Sachtler V20 S1 Tripod Kit. The Teradek Bolt 500 TX has multiple mounting points and options. In our setup we are using an articulating arm threaded to the camera’s sidebar, and then to the bottom of the transmitter. The ARRI cforce mini RF Motor is a receiver-motor hybrid. The hybrid virtue of the RF Motor eliminates the need of an additional receiver unit, which reduces cable wrangling, declutters the camera rig, freeing mounting space for other accessories, and streamlining power consumption of all motors and hand grips.
How do we calibrate the motors?
- Make sure all cables are connected.
- Power on the camera.
- Open the camera main menu in the LCD monitor.
- Select “Electronic Control System” or “ECS”.
- Select “Calibrate All Motors”.
- The motors will automatically turn and find the lens gear end points. Once the motors stop turning, the basic calibration is complete.