TWO OF US
The 2019 short film “TWO OF US” (dir. Risa Negishi) uses Panasonic’s famous DVX100 in its flashback scenes.
The movie begins in the present and uses flashbacks while slowly moving forward.
What was interesting was that in that flashback scene, during a moment of “rewinding” there was a pixel square, analog rewind image that came on screen.
The main story was in high resolution, as it was recorded in 4K ProRes with a RED EPIC-W, so the demarcation was obvious.
In order to achieve high resolution, we decided to use a MINI DV format camera.
I often play around with “old” analog video cameras like the small format 8mm and 16mm film cameras, MINI DV, and video 8.
My options included Victor and Sony camcorders for home use, and the famous Sony VX-2000, but I chose the Panasonic AG-DVX100 for its 24P and cinema-like gamma feature.
The DVX’s early model 100 had a 4:3 aspect ratio sensor, which I found appealing.
For the main story, we went with a 1:2.4 aspect cinemascope ratio.
We embedded the DVX100’s 4:3 ratio symmetrically as though we were adding black in side-by-side.
The footage shot with the DVX100 was entirely hand-held, with a belt securing the camera in your right hand.
The feel of the grip is amazing.
The length and weight of the lens and battery relative to your hand are well-balanced.
The vari-angles of the LCD make for ease of shooting, and compared to recent SLR movies that rely on shooting with a mount, it is much easier to shoot with.
The microphone placement is good, and doesn’t get in the way of shooting.
Rather than relying on a tripod, we went for a sense of perspective that mimicked candid family photos: turn the camera on, position it in hand, and start recording.
We were aiming for a production where you could capture wavering emotions and shoot with minimal prep, a feeling of nostalgia in the images of the past.
When I think back to that time, the playback from the MINI DV camera footage, the sound of recording and rewinding the tape subconsciously remained in my memories associated with that camera, so I asked the sound edit to “use those sounds if possible”, which he was able to do effectively.
Regarding the loading procedure, we bought the compact parts we needed to convert to HDMI for the camera output’s RCA terminal (yellow, red, white cable) on Amazon, input that HDMI to ATOMOS SHOGUN, and recorded with ProRes.
For the rewind scenes, we recorded using the same method we used for the rewinding using the camera body for the output.
Memories of the AG-DVX100
When the AG-DVX100 wasn’t yet associated with movie-making, I got a hold of one in 2002 when it was released and took snapshots of daily life as I saw it.
I edited with Adobe Premiere, adding music I was listening to at the time, and made music videos for my personal image album.
The cinematic gamma colors and 24P progressive filmic frame motion made a big impression on me, and I learned the joy of filmmaking, it gave me confidence.
When I moved to Tokyo and started work as an assistant cinematographer, I made a lot of movies for myself.
Then as time passed, the DVX100 didn’t have everything I needed anymore, so I stopped using it and let it go.
About 10 years passed and I’d moved past the DVX100, but then a few years ago I started thinking, “Those DVX100 images were actually pretty good.”
The DVX100 images were like 8mm home movies, evoking the past, and I began thinking, “I could use it.”
I’d been using 8mm film for that function.
These days, camera features have improved, resolution and sensitivity are excellent, and anyone can create beautiful images.
Images are now infiltrating our lives like never before, and anyone with a smartphone is a photographer.
In the past few years, the CMOS sensor in single-lens reflex cameras took the market by storm, and while hand-held videos were subject to electronically distorted images that don’t exist in real life, for those who didn’t like it, there was the confidence that CCD sensors promised vibration reduction.
I digress, but 10 years from now, the rolling shutter effect itself might serve as a memento of the early 2000s, evoking memories of this era.
Now even smartphones are capable of 24P recording, but back then, video cameras that could do 24P recording were the pricey VARICAM or this AG-DVX100.
This is just my impression, but the 24P-capable DVX100 had great handling.
I can’t explain it, but it had something more than what the specs indicated.
I can’t explain the technical aspect of it, and maybe it’s because of the tape analog recording, but the discomfort of this camera’s 24P still looks fresh and new to me. It’s totally subjective, but the current 24P looks somehow too natural to me.
None of the cameras of the time could produce the softness of AG-DVX100’s images that were due to its “filmic texture” thanks to film-like gamma. Images of my friend’s baby and a wheat field waving in the breeze have that quality; gentle color and slow-paced 24P are contained in those indescribable images.
Film-like gamma, what you might call Panasonic’s image spirit, still remains one of Panasonic’s strengths. I have also been regularly using AG-HVX200, AG-HMX155, and AJ-HPX3000 in addition to AG-DVX100.
The main part is shot with RED EPIC-W 4K
Record and Memory: The Power of Images
Sometimes I get the impression we’ve come as far as we could now in terms of clarity, resolution, color, etc. when I think about images.
This is a memory from when I was in the photography club as a student, taking black-and-white pictures as if my life depended on it, but I thought there were “two powers” when it came to “the power of imagery”.
The first is “the power of documenting”: capturing what is happening in front of your eyes/what is about to happen.
The specs you’d want are a broad dynamic range, rich gradation, controllable resolution, and color. Video camera specs and functions these days are substantial, even at a low price.
These functions are necessary: to create a world view based on a location and an actor’s performance in movies, to promote products or a company’s image in commercials, and to render opulence in the worlds of music and imagery in music videos.
The other can be considered the flip side to the first, part of “the power of documenting”, not just needing specs but maybe at times a retreat from them.
Back then, I used the AG-DVX100 as a camera for “documenting” images, and now, 10 years on I’ve returned to it as a camera for “recollecting”. When considering the feelings that are evoked in people – the emotions you want to evoke in them as they watch movies – and when you’re trying to express emotions, you can’t rely on specs alone.
When I think about how to express “the accumulation of life images, sounds, experiences” as a movie maker, the technique of using MINI DV’s image recollector: DVX100 will continue to be an important one.