We had the pleasure to take the Arri Alexa Mini camera to the skies on one of our drones this past January while working on the set of ‘Killjoys‘ Season 2. Filmed north of Toronto, the aerial video was captured at an old quarry location which perfectly embodied the bleak backdrop needed for the scenes in the upcoming season premiere episode. As with the RED Dragon and Weapon cameras, the Arri Alexa Mini is a great camera for use on drones because of its small size and light-weight. The camera balances well on the Freefly Movi M10, but depending on the lenses being used, a larger gimbal like our Freefly Movi M15 may be needed in order to ensure cable clearance on the back end once the tilt axis is balanced.
One of our favorite features of the Alexa Mini is having the Arri lens motor control receiver built right into the body. Adding wireless focus or aperture control is achieved by simply adding a motor and cable. Furthermore, additional motors are daisy chained. For aerial video filming with drones, this really helps to keep the weight down for longer and smoother flights.
We were skeptical at first as to how well the wi-fi connected app for making camera adjustments wirelessly via a cellphone or tablet would work, but in the end we were pleasantly surprised. On this particular shoot, the connections remained throughout and adjustments could be made quickly and efficiently. For anyone who has had much use with the Redmote, which can be fickle at the best of times, it was a pleasure to see the gear working reliably in a real-world application. It should be noted though, that line-of-sight with the camera was pretty optimal inside this quarry.
For those who are looking to mount an Alexa Mini onto a drone or a Movi, and make use of a wireless HD video transmitter, keep in mind that the Alexa Mini only offers an HD-SDI out for connecting your transmitter. If the transmitter you are using works over HDMI (Paralinx Tomahawk, etc.), you can either get an HD-SDI based transmitter, or use something like the ATOMOS HDMI/HD-SDI converter. These handy units are astonishingly light-weight and can run on simple SONY batteries.
In the end, we were impressed with the Arri Alexa Mini’s design, features, and image from this drone shoot. We invite you to check out the results for yourselves on July 1 during the season premiere of Killjoys Season 2!