Regrading “Momentum” shot by VARICAM 35, to the HDR movie

- New “LOOK” from HDR -

#1 Takuro ISHIZAKA / Director of Photography

“Momentum”/VARICAM 35


“Momentum” is a test movie to demonstrate how a dual native ISO works in the actual movie. The dual native ISO is a basic concept of VARICAM 35, and means that the camera has two film stocks; ISO800 and ISO5000. At the main night scene of a Japanese-style bar, we used ISO5000, and at the day scene of flashback, we used ISO800. Our aim is how the texture and the look create the one movie, using both ISOs. I think many people focus on ISO (especially ISO5000). This is because there was a trend that a night scene had to be shot by an open aperture after EOS 5D Mark II released; however, with ISO5000, the aperture can be closed even under a dark condition, and also keep the texture of the images at the time of color grading even though there are some noises on them. That’s what I want to show for this demonstration.

*Shot on VariCam 35: “Momentum”

*VariCam “Momentum” BTS Japanese Subtitle

Purpose of changing to HDR


“Momentum” was the first time for me to convert SDR into HDR. At first, I looked at the clips on a monitor, which were just changed into HDR via V-Log, and hardly found differences. But when I compared it with the original SDR, I was convinced. In spit of that, there is one problem; “how do I change into HDR without breaking the images that were completed for SDR?” Actually, the colorists for HDR differed from SDR, so their characters were also different. Even lighting on set was not for HDR. Thus, there were some difficulties. On the other hand, the movies VARICAM 35 shot had so much potential and we used DCI for a color range, therefore both worked advantageously. I thought a part of high light was too outstanding when I saw for the first time, but it didn’t mean it’s not working. Moreover, because the negative area still had a range, I was able to darken the spot. In addition, we set up the lighting on set to be like a café not like a bar since the story has some aspects of fantasy. So, when the movie changed to HDR, the Japanese-style bar turned to like a Paris café!

Possibilities of HDR


In order to show how the quality of HDR itself is, I thought I shouldn’t make the images rough as a direction. In my opinion to HDR, it represents the color separation well: for instance, the color of orange stood easily at scene where the entire tone turned to blueish, compared with SDR. On the other hand, because blue stood out too much at some scene, I had to indicate to tone the blue down. The point is HDR is able to represent several colors accurately on a screen, so it suits a kind of a movie, which needs a certain gradation. As to “Momentum,” although I shot 4:2:2, changing from SDR into HDR went well thanks to 4K V-Log. One of the purposes of the change was to show how differences occurred between two formats, so HDR had bigger gradation in black than SDR, and keep the details. I indicated to fill the negative more than SDR.

The future of HDR

SDR on SDR: SDR (Standerd Dynamic Range) signal SDR monitor

2084 on SDR: 2084 (PQ) signal on SDR monitor

SDR on 2084: SDR signal on 2084 (PQ) monitor

2084 on 2084: 2084 (PQ) signal on 2084 (PQ)

From now, when a feature film changed into HDR, it would be difficult because almost all originals are SDR. Recently, I sometimes hear that 2K or SDR movies change into 4K or HDR, but the things are not that easy since they don’t have enough resolutions and gradations. I don’t think it does’t work to change only spec. Maybe, film movies could have a meaning to change by re-scanning; however, they were also shot not for HDR. Plus, changing completed movies would have lots of work to satisfy the quality. Even the usual color grading is hard because we have to concentrate on tiny detail. I also feel difficulty every time, so if it’s HDR, difficulty would be more. To be honest, if you really want to make a HDR movie, you should shoot as HDR and to have a HDR monitor on set.
In addition, HDR movies you can see now are still on the stage where just to show high resolution and dynamic range. But if it became to be ordinal, how would HDR be used in an usual production? That’s so interesting.

Born in 1974, Kanazawa, Japan. When he was in high school, he flew to America. After learning the movie lighting, he has started his career as an electrician. Then, as an assistant camera, he joined “Lost in Translation (2003, dir: Sofia Coppola),” and “Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World (2004, dir: Isao Yukisada).” In 2006, he established Frameworks Film Inc. in LA, and joined productions at home and overseas as a DP. “Rurouni Kenshin (2012, 2014)” trilogy, “Akka (2014, pro: WOWOW),” and “Himitsu -The Top Secret- (2016)” are his recent works.
In the summer of 2016, he also joined the movie a great director, John Woo directed in Japan. It’s called, “Ttsuiho-MANHUNT (produced by Hong Kong and China. Screened in 2017. Main actors: Zhang Hanyu and Masaharu Fukuyama).” It’s a remake of “You Must Cross the River of Wrath,” which is a classic masterpiece, played by Ken Takakura as the lead.