Ken Hirai Film Vol. 14 “Ken’s Bar 20th Anniversary Special!!”

- A cinema camera extravaganza featuring the VARICAM 35, VARICAM LT, and AU-EVA1! -

20th Anniversary Concert of the popular live show: “Ken’s Bar”

Gokuraku-Eizousha Co., Ltd.
President: Kei NOZAWA


The premise behind “Ken’s Bar”, superstar Ken Hirai’s solo live show, was that Ken Hirai himself was the “manager and vocalist”. The stage was trans-formed into a chic bar where the audience could enjoy a meal or a drink while Hirai shared stories and performed during this incredibly popular show.
Ken Hirai himself produced the entire show, “Ken’s Bar”, which opened in May 1998 in Tokyo, and in 2018 celebrated the 20th Anniversary of its “opening” with live shows all over the country. The first part of the celebration was in To-kyo in May and the second was held in New York in August.

Afterwards, the third part took place in Sapporo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and Miyagi, finally closing on Christmas Eve in Yokohama. The tickets for this wildly popular event have been referred to as “platinum tickets” they are so in demand, and so as to have as many people as possible enjoy it, it was streamed live for public viewing in 35 theaters nationwide during the Tokyo performance. The Tokyo and New York shows were also released as a DVD at the end of 2018.

Various lenses used during live streaming in 16 locations throughout Japan

Gokuraku-Eizousha and Cloudland oversaw the TOKYO DOME CITY HALL shoot and live show. This time, while using multiple cameras for the Blu-ray/DVD pack-age, the venue was set up for live streaming. 12 cameras were used during shooting: Panasonic VARICAM 35 and VARICAM LT. The February 2018 up-date for the VARICAM LT provided full control from the remote operational panel “AK-HRP1000”. While still a cinema camera, it allowed for a broadcast camera-style workflow during the live show.
The AU-EVA1 (EVA1) was set up for the remote operation of on-stage cam-eras, allowing for the use of cinema cameras for the live show and the record-ing.

Dual native ISO in low-light conditions with Cinematone

When asked the reason for choosing these cameras, NOZAWA, head of Gokuraku-Eizousha, responded, “In the past, Ken Hirai’s concerts have been shot using film; atmospheric Cinematone is a must. I felt it was important to retain that atmosphere this time round, too.”
“The first thing we decided on was the camera behind the audience. We wanted to use the B4 lens and shoot in Cinematone. With a cinema lens, you don’t have much range (zoom area) during a live show. But with a B4 mount, you can use box lenses and you have the extreme 100x zoom. Because you don’t have control over the lighting on stage, you need to rely on aperture. We decided to go with the VARICAM because it gave us the option of the dual na-tive ISO. We used an optical mount adapter (OptMag) and the Canon B4 mount with the 40x ENG lens. To take advantage of the aperture in low-light conditions, we used ISO5000. (NOZAWA)
“Next, we matched the tone with the cameras towards the front, and because we wanted to use an EF mount still lens, we decided to go with the VARICAM LT.” (NOZAWA)
“Finally, we went with the EVA1 for onstage. It would be easy to match the tone with that of the VARICAM. The firmware update allowed us to control the aperture remotely, we could adjust the zoom servo, and the remote was user-friendly – those were the deciding factors. Next thing you know, all the camer-as were from the VARICAM family (laughs).” (NOZAWA)

“Ease of use another plus for selection”

During the show, they switched back and forth between the recording and the live stream. “The LT and EVA1 were stable, so in terms of cameras, we didn’t have to worry about anything,” said Mr. NOZAWA. But since “It would be the first time we used the streaming system with the VARICAM,” a representative from Panasonic was standing by on the day of the show at the venue. “An-other reason why we chose VARICAM was because of this kind of customer support from the manufacturer,” he explained.
Gokuraku Eizousha started using a VARICAM on the set of “Ultraman Retsu-den” because the light of Ultraman’s color timer switched to an LED light, which meant that the color became saturated, the chroma clipped and the colors bled.

“When I mentioned this to a Panasonic rep, they got back to me and took care of it within a month. Since the color of his color timer never quite looked right with other cameras, we decided to stay exclusively with the VARICAM.” (NOZAWA)
“Usually, live stream and recordings can only be done with cameras that have an in-camera recording capacity. If you try to use exterior recording equip-ment, you’ll have wiring issues or recording mistakes due to human error, and we wanted to avoid that as much as possible. You can’t make those mistakes when you’re live, and I wanted to try something new. In order to do that, I went with who would offer that level of support. If you were to ask me what I’d bet my life on in a sink or swim situation on set, it would be this camera.” (NOZAWA)

VARICAM = streamlining high-speed shoots

“Dual native ISO is becoming more popular to use on movie sets. On a movie shoot, there might be occasion to shoot a short scene in high speed of someone walking. When you roll in high speed on set, you can’t get away with saying ‘Can you double the light there?’ when you’re on a set with time and budget constraints. You’re just creating one situation where a person is walk-ing down the street. You can’t ask to double the lights for that. But with a VARICAM, with the dual native ISO and just a change in aperture, you can keep going so it keeps the costs down. Dual native ISO can condense the call sheet as well as the timetable, and I think it’s safe to that it’s probably the most important camera feature to have on set.” (NOZAWA)

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