Written by Shona Smith on Dec 17, 2020. Posted in On Location

Tokyo Colours shot remotely with Nikon for Z Creators series

The three day shoot was part of the Nikon Z Creators featuring the Z Series mirrorless system. All shots were taken with a camera from the series in a series of twelve remote shoots across the globe, headed by Belgian production company Friendship and Tokyo agency K & L Inc.

In Tokyo one day was used to shoot the main “anthem” in the TVC that features creatives in each territory using the cameras. Two days was spent filming more experimental behind-the-scenes footage using the Z Series. Brian Kobo, producer and partner at Tokyo Colours says “we were the first shoot out of the eleven countries, almost the guinea pig of the project. Knowing that our experiences would be the main reference point for the other countries was both very nerve-wracking and exciting!”.

The shoot took place in June, just after Japan lifted the State of Emergency and finding locations was one of the challenges on this remote shoot. "Many locations were wary about letting a crew in. One particular scene was need a shot of our talent in a glass elevator. Architecture and skylines are a big deal in Tokyo so finding glass elevators was not a challenge - but finding one that will let us shoot during a pandemic was!" explains Kobo.

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya is Tokyo Colours go-to hotel when hosting clients during shoots. "Our representative at the Cerulean, Tatsuhiro Hasegawa had mentioned that the groups hotels were beginning to open up to the idea of allowing productions to use their hotels as locations. This is usually unheard of! It is always difficult to get permission from hotels as they do not want to disturb their customers. Due to the low occupancy during the pandemic, there is now the opportunity to allow shoots to come in without this concern.

The Excel Tokyu in Shibuya has a great elevator that many crews from abroad like to shoot in because it gives you a great view of the world famous Shibuya Crossing. Up until a couple of years ago, you were able to sneak onto that elevator to get the magical shot but I think they caught on and now you require a room key to go up. I called Hasegawa and asked, would we be able to shoot from their elevator. We quickly got the go ahead, with the condition of a minimal crew. I believe we may be the first crew to use that elevator with proper permission". Kobo adds "having a small footprint with a crew is always a good choice in Japan even before the pandemic. The more minimal the crew is, the more chance you have getting permission to shoot at a location".

The remote element of the shoot was also a new challenge for Tokyo Colours. “Although we have done several live streaming projects for clients such as Red Bull sporting events, this was a different thing altogether!". After trying many of the options on the market, Q-Take system was found to be the best fit for the picture quality and latency. “The shoot was never delayed because of transmission issues. For areas where we couldn’t get the Q-Take system close to the camera we turned to Zoom and filmed the monitors here in Tokyo and transmitted to Belgium”.

“Without the director being able to see the location or the action physically, it limits what they can immediately see on location. We chose not to set up a separate camera to act almost like a surveillance camera for the director because we were always on the move and needed to limit the number of crew."

"Communication is key, too" says Kobo. "Sending the video was pretty flawless but the issue was communicating with the team while we were shooting. We carried out several tests with zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and regular calls in order to find the best quality of sound. For us, FaceTime worked best for this project and Director of Photography Toshihiko Kizu and I wore earpieces on set to be in constant communication with the team at Friendship".

"In general, Japan is pretty much back to business shoot wise. Many local productions are in full force all across the country. With the proper care and precautions to help protect the crew, location, and public, most areas and locations are open to letting crews in to shoot" adds Kobo.

Production Company: Freindship (Belgium)

Director: Mattias Lebeer

Director of Photography (Japan): Toshihiko Kizu


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