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Dual Native ISO would be the best choice for the low budget movies!

- “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper) ~Maiku no Hosomichi~" -

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The first series of “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper),” directed by Yu IRIE who was also graduated from Nihon University College of Art, majoring at Cinema, won the grand prize of Off Theatre Competition at the 19th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in 2009. Since the movie was so unique that characters rap their life-sized thoughts as dialogues, it gradually got popular, and there were standees even in the independent theaters. Moreover, because it received good reputations at several festivals, like invited to the Festival du Nouveau Cinema at Montreal in Canada, it led to the result of making the second and the third movie.

From April 2017, “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper) ~Maiku no Hosomichi~” has started on air as a TV drama series of the TV Tokyo Group’s midnight show. In the setting of the time when ten years passed since the first movie came out, three main characters, a hip-hop group, called ‘SHOGUNG,’ go around the Tohoku area to find a member who is now away from them in order to restart as rappers.

For this shooting, Panasonic VARICAM LT was used. As to lenses, EF lenses of still cameras were used. Thus, they made it possible to be mobile as a road movie and low light shooting without relying on lighting equipment. Even though it was a TV drama, it inherited the independent movie like. Having that new approach, how was the shooting going? We asked Kazuhiro MIMURA, a cinematographer, about the secret.

Kazuhiro MIMURA/Cinematographer

Born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1980. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art, majoring at Cinematography/Sound Recording. After graduation, he has started his career as a cinematographer with a series of “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper), and gained his experiences of many movies, dramas, PVs, and live performances. Belonging to Lamp. K.K.

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Ken TAKAHASHI

Can be seen history of the independent cameras

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You can find out how the independent cameras are changing if you see each shooting of a series of “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper).” When I was a student, I was used to utilize Panasonic AGDVX100A/B (DV tape camera for SD) because I liked it. However, when IRIE, a director, and I decided to make “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper)” as a fullfledged movie, we hit it off, saying “let’s do it with HD!” So, I was able to borrow the AG-HVX200 (P2 card/HD) by my friend’s help, and shot the first one with it. I shot the second one with Sony PMW-EX3 (filebased) in 2010, and the third one with Canon EOS 7D (DSLR) in 2012. Because of the independent movie, through some connections, I borrowed and used a popular camera along with a trend for shooting.

Dual Native ISO is effective for the low budget movies

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When I was asked “is there any camera that you want to use?” by a producer from VASC, which is a production comapany for this TV drama series, I quickly answered “VARICAM LT!” (laughs). Personally, since that time I used the AG-DVX100, I’ve been a fan of Panasonic cameras. But, in recent years, a big sensor camera is taking the main stream, so I didn’t have a chance to use Panasonic cameras; nevertheless, when the VARICAM 35 was released and I knew the Dual Native ISO, which is two base ISOs; 800 and 5000, I thought the function would be great for the low budget movies for sure! The low budget movie like “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper)” has a lot of limitations of a budget and a schedule; for example, we don’t afford to set up much lighting equipment or to have many lighting stuff even in a dark scene. Whereas, with the VARICAM, having two base ISOs, I can use ISO800 for usual shooting, and use ISO5000 for shooting in the dark or the low light without setting up lighting. So, it’s so convenient as I expected.

Style of ‘one shot for one scene’

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In a decade, we consectively shot the first and the second moives of “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper),” and shot the third one after three years later. After another five years later, the chance to make a TV series out of the movie came up. In the drama, total episodes are 11, and the story is about that rappers set their mind to go to Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan where the rap’s event is held through Aomori, Tohno in Iwate, Fukushima, and Akabane. Lastly, they go back to Saitama. The shooting style of the work is ‘one shot for one scene’. Usually, rap scenes like in PVs are shot by shot along with music to make them cool; however, “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper)” is not cool, and rather showing the characters’ ridiculousness by shooting ‘one shot for one scene’ makes this work unique. This style is also good because it puts pressure on the actors, so the good tension is generated. But, the difficulty is the length. Like we had to cut many scenes already in movies, we must be careful of the length since it is decided in TV dramas. Still, as we wanted to keep our style, there was sometimes one shot from commercial to next commercial (laughs).

Desensitizing ISO4000/32000 from basic ISO5000

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Basically, for this shooting, we used only one VARICAM LT except that we used two for the shooting at CLUB CITTA’ in Kawasaki. I heard about VARICAM LT from the maker that they don’t dare to support noise reduction, which is unable to do in camera. Including me, many users favor the noise because It’s like film grain.

In the dark scene of this shooting, I used ISO5000 a lot, but to be precise, I set ISO4000 or ISO3200, desensitizing from basic ISO5000 in order to leave the gradation of the darkness as much as I could. In the night or interior scene where we were able to set up the lightings, I shot by ISO4000 or ISO3200 to deduce the noise. I think the dual native ISO of the VARICAM series are not well-known yet. Unlike the usual cameras, the VARICAM series is not to have ISO5000, but to select the basic ISO5000 as a native and to desensitize from 5000 to 3200 or 4000. There are no cameras like them. If you utilize this function, your work from shooting to post production would be changed. Plus, if producers can understand it at the time when they decide which camera they use, the VARICAM series could be used more.

Using various LUTs as originals

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As to lenses, I mostly used still lenses of EF mount. Because “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper)” has a lot of wide frames, I selected Tamron’s 24-70mm lens to cover from the wide to the regular size. I thought about the 4K delivery later on, so I shot with AVC-Intra4K/V-Log and finish with 4K. During from Log shooting to grading, I made several LUTs as my originals in order to easily change even if it’s in Rec.709 ultimately because 4K’s workflow of TV drama’s post production isn’t set up completely.

Why do I like the Panasonic’s camera look? I don’t know the reason even by myself, but the look is close to my memory’s color, and also it is not too dramatic and not too exaggerative of the way to be colored, compared to other cameras.

“8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper) ~Maiku no Hosomichi~”

http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/sr/

Photos: BTS of MV “FRESH ni STEP” by P.O.P, which is a rap supervisor/coach for the “8000 Miles (SR Saitama no Rapper)” trilogy and TV drama. The MV is also shot by VARICAM LT.