Dale Bremner with his Amira and Master Primes in Australia’s Red Centre.

ARRI’s Amira and Master Prime passed ‘toughest’ shoots

Multi-award-winning cinematographer Dale Bremner, who has a long association with ARRI, undertook one of his toughest shoots in Australia’s Red Centre (southern desert region) using ARRI’s Amira camera and a set of ARRI’s Master Prime lenses.

“The Amira was primarily chosen based on the shoot’s deliverables, requirements and predicted hurdles which included having 4K output integrated into a 3D dome experience for the Seven Sisters Uluru exhibition in the National Museum of Australia,” Bremner explained.

Plates were shot for the dome along with a short 2D narrative film, narrated by an indigenous elder, to accompany the story. According to Bremner, the Amira was an obvious choice for the project.

“Firstly, the camera’s reliability factor played a big part as the fact that we were shooting seven hours out of Alice Springs in such a remote and harsh environment gave us no backup should the camera fail or suffer media corruption,” he related.

“In other words, camera reliability was paramount — there was no plan B, in case something went wrong. I had taken the Amira on previous long-form jobs and it has never skipped a beat, even in scorching temperatures.”

Bremner also highlighted the camera’s features and usability.

“The Amira’s internal NDs (natural density filters) are a big plus as the Australian sun is harsh and unforgiving, especially in the desert. Dust and filters are not always the best combination, and keeping the filtering inside the camera was not only completely logical but was also extremely practical under those exposed conditions. Some of our set-ups were on the side of cliffs and on uneven terrain, places where you don’t want to be swapping out filters.”

The camera’s form factor also played a big part in the shoot as did its power consumption and ease of use.

“The weight and balance of handheld solo operation with the Amira was excellent. Considering we were hiking and climbing to obtain shots, the camera was often carried and shot straight from the shoulder, and the weight and balance of the camera was perfect for long hours in such conditions,” he said.

“Also, next to reliability, power was key. Along with the standard Alexa and Alexa Mini, the Amira is the best in terms of power consumption. With base camp having only generator power, every battery had to count. Finally, having Chris Braga as my one and only trusted and experienced AC, and such a huge scale, I was often operating completely on my own and the AMIRA dominates as the ‘doco solo’ op set-up camera.”

Most of the project was also shot using the ARRI 12mm Master Prime lens.

“A lot of 100mm macro shots were integrated into the project as well, dancing at both ends of the spectrum,” said Bremner.

“The spiritual indigenous dreamtime stories are told through the land and history of the indigenous arts, and I wanted the camera to be as unobtrusive and to have as little influence on the look as possible. I didn’t feel it was right to add an artistic style or visual signature of my own to the story, and the footage conveys results we got, as the proof is in the pudding.”

Thus, it was not just the Amira that impressed Bremner on this shoot, but he was also full of praise for his lenses.

“In my opinion, Master Primes are without a doubt the pinnacle of technical achievement in modern optics, especially when pushed to the extremities in environmental conditions, and the radical and opposing spectrum of focal ranges, that is, the 12mm and 100mm macro. I’m not saying they always offer the correct aesthetic but I chose the Master Primes for this specific project, primarily due to the project’s requirement of integration into a multiple 4K-projected 3D dome experience.”

On the whole, Bremner said he was delighted with the Amira and Master Prime lenses for what was undoubtedly one of his most challenging shoots.

“Given this project, in my belief, there was no better camera in existence for this job,” he concluded.

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