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Header image for article Emerson College Selects ARRI ALEXA 35 Cameras for Their Visual & Media Arts Program

Emerson College Selects ARRI ALEXA 35 Cameras for Their Visual & Media Arts Program

Emerson College, the prestigious institution known for its exceptional programs in communication, the arts, and the liberal arts, recently purchased five ARRI ALEXA 35 packages from AbelCine. In addition to scholarly media studies, the Department of Visual & Media Arts emphasizes practical learning on state-of-the-art technology.

Emerson College was looking for new a digital cinema camera system for their students. AbelCine consulted with the faculty at the Visual & Media Arts Program about their options, and later helped get their staff up to speed on the ALEXA 35. David Reeder, VMA Program Administrator and Jake Nadeau, Assistant Director, Equipment Access & Distribution generously shared their thoughts on the ALEXA 35 and how it has been received by their students.


What was it about the ARRI ALEXA 35 that attracted you to the camera?

First of all, the image quality. ARRI cameras are known for their exceptional image quality. They are capable of capturing high-resolution, cinematic images with excellent dynamic range, color accuracy, and low noise even in low-light conditions. This level of image quality is crucial for teaching professional filmmaking practice.

Their proven reliability was another important factor. ARRI has a reputation for building rugged and reliable cameras that can withstand the demands of academic film production.

ARRI ALEXA cameras have become a global standard in the film and television industry. Their popularity ensures compatibility with a wide range of the post-production workflows and industry-standard tools we teach.

Are there specific features of the ALEXA 35 that guided your decision?

There are quite a few benefits of the ALEXA 35. The flexibility and versatility of the ARRI ALEXA camera system is key, with models ranging from the compact Mini to the 65 models. This variety allows us to teach on a camera that will suit students’ immediate needs and shooting style and adapt with them as they develop in their career.

The ALEXA 35’s large, open-gate sensor provides a cinematic and immersive look to the footage. The large sensor size also contributes to the cameras’ excellent low-light performance and will allow us to expand our production capabilities to include anamorphic productions.

The proven color science was another important factor in our choice. ARRI is renowned for its color science, which produces pleasing and accurate skin tones and color reproduction. This is crucial for creating visually appealing and emotionally engaging content.

Then there is the modularity of the camera itself. ARRI ALEXA cameras are highly configurable, allowing student cinematographers to customize their setups with various accessories and lenses to achieve the desired look and functionality. In addition, a robust ecosystem of ARRI accessories, lenses, and support services exists, which can be essential for filmmakers who need a complete production package.

Finally, the user interface on ARRI cameras is known for being intuitive and straightforward, making it easier for filmmakers to focus on their creative work rather than technical issues.


Have you seen a positive reaction from students toward the ALEXA 35, and what do you feel is its biggest draw for new students?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Students have been asking for this type of camera system for quite a while. We evaluated a Sony camera, the ARRI ALEXA Mini and Mini LF models previously, but those systems did not offer the right combination of quality, flexibility, and ease of use that is the case with the ALEXA 35.

Has the purchase of the ALEXA 35 allowed Emerson to build any new curriculum elements?

We are developing an LED virtual production space and building a new curriculum around that production modality. We expect the ALEXA 35 to be used there in the Fall ’24 semester.


What type of projects are your students filming on the ALEXA 35?

Currently, they are using it for their BA Capstone, BFA, and MFA Thesis projects.


Can you describe the production workflow used by your students?

It is a fairly typical pre/production/post workflow. The VMA faculty and staff recommend students capture media in the 4.6K or 4K 16x9 ProRes422HQ format. We do not currently support the ARRIRAW media format, but we will be exploring that as we enhance our compositing workflow and build out the virtual production space.


What has been your overall experience working with AbelCine?

In a word… Outstanding. Working with the entire Abel team has made our acquisition of the ALEXA 35s a very straightforward and productive initiative – the training we received was invaluable to our faculty and staff, and we have had no problems deploying the cameras into our rental ecosystem.


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