Recreating the world of - Kodak

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Recreating the world of - Kodak

8

focus on film

GANTZ, a popular manga series illustrated by Hiroya Oku,

revolves around characters who, after death, somehow find

themselves directed by a mysterious black sphere (GANTZ)

to complete missions against aliens. Although the series’

unique story dynamic seemed to defy live-action adaptation,

two GANTZ movies have been made. Here, cinematographer

Taro Kawazu and DI grader Seiji Saito share their thoughts

on a larger-than-life live-action movie brimming with digital

artistry and craftsmanship.

Working with a neutral yet uncompromising

director, true to his vision

Kawazu: I was very apprehensive during initial talks

about adapting GANTZ for the big screen. As a fan myself,

I wondered how we could approach the series’ unique story

dynamic. I must admit, I even told the director, Shinsuke Sato

it was impossible, but my negativity never fazed him. He was

determined to face the project head-on, and his constant

commitment to finding the best solutions for the material

motivated me and everyone else involved. The director

maintained a neutral attitude and was willing to incorporate as

many good ideas as we could suggest. Yet at the same time, his

creative vision was unshakable. He never simply deferred to a

camera operator’s judgment about scenes, and he insisted on

deciding the positioning and cuts himself.

Saito: I had worked with Taro four years ago on Nihon

Chinbotsu: Japan Sinks. This time, my colleagues in postproduction

and I at Imagica felt

some pressure to show our advances

in digital intermediate work (both

creatively and technically) since then.

We also took on the project hoping

our creative work would satisfy the

director.

Rich, lush imagery

supporting realism

Kawazu: We shot on film for a

realism not found in typical science

fiction movies. In my initial talks with

Seiji, we were eager to take a cue

1

from cinematographer Roger Deakins’

(ASC,BSC) work in the 2007 film No

Country for Old Men, directed by the Coen Brothers. His work

is very stylish, both in the intensity of blacks, relative to what

else is on screen, and how he uses mixed lighting. This look

takes effort, but it seems effortless. There’s no decolorization

or bleach bypass, but the image quality is impressive and the

results are powerful. Scenes are dark, with low-key lighting,

yet what they want to show you is clearly visible. For me, the

value of shooting on film is this “richness.” It has always been

an advantage of film. Choosing film for GANTZ, with all of its

digital compositing and computer-generated imagery, was an

Recreating the world of

excellent decision.

Difficult decisions in recreating the

“GANTZ Room”

Kawazu: Seiji and I determined the tone we sought before

shooting began. To do it, we collaborated both on a technical

level (discussing chemical processing for the desired negative

density during shooting) and an artistic level (discussing digital

processing after scanning), which was enjoyable. He was

truly helpful, in contact with me on the set as we confirmed

our approach and then later during the grading that would

ultimately determine the tone.

Saito: After Taro described the visual style of the film and key

concepts, we both considered the techniques needed to achieve

these goals. From the standpoint of grading, I suggested that

it was critical to ensure polished results early on, at the stage

of shooting. Discussing these things in depth with Taro during

shooting was ideal. Especially now that so much is possible in

post-production, camera operators must demonstrate more

originality.

Kawazu: Deciding the right tone for the GANTZ room was

nerve-racking. In the story, this room always appears before

and after missions. What would be the ideal appearance for

this eerie space, detached from other scenes? In the end, we

settled on the idea of keeping the room neutral, no matter

how radically things changed before or after the scene. The

set consisted of a wooden floor

and white walls. Although the

plan called for lighting from

above, once we actually tried

it, darker image areas took on

a stronger reddish tinge from

the floor than we had expected.

This caused a range of issues,

with other colors mixed in across

shades we wanted to be neutral,

inconsistent whites on the walls

after facial skin tone adjustment,

and so on. It also proved to be

the hardest part of post-production

with Seiji.

Saito: If we had wanted to

portray the GANTZ room in an

extreme tone, many options would have been available. But

giving the room an extraordinary appearance would have upset

the overall balance of the film, because the alien fight scenes

had to be even more extreme. Looking back, I realize that our

intuition required objectivity and was quite a delicate matter.

1 Cinematographer Taro Kawazu

2 The GANTZ room © Hiroya Oku/Shueisha © 2011 “GANTZ” FILM PARTNERS

3 DI grader Seiji Saito

Gantz.indd 1 05/10/2011 15:35

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Exceeding expectations: KODAK VISION3

Color Digital Intermediate Film

Kawazu: Using new KODAK VISION3 Color Digital

Intermediate Film 2254 was great. It impressed me with the

advances made in preserving detail. This quality in 2254 is very

helpful when we want to preserve detail in highlights under

low-key lighting.

Saito: At Imagica, we use a color management system

developed in-house, called Galette TM . Whenever new recording

negatives are released, we usually create the standards for

ensuring support for the film. We took the opportunity this

time to make thorough refinements to Galette TM , in order

to expand our creative palette. We could say that 2254 film

helped us take Imagica-based film recording to the next level.

What’s more, 2254 has better negative density than 2242,

which translates into powerful images.

Kawazu: As to the release print stock, we used Kodak

VISION 2383. It supports high-contrast grading and offers

good stability. There’s minimal change even if we create several

test pieces. The movie was shot using Panavision Primo Classic

lenses. This maintained sharpness while making images softer

than with normal Prime lenses, which is perfect in the final

stages of DI.

Expert use of KODAK VISION3 500T Color

Negative Film 5219

Kawazu: The movie was shot on KODAK VISION3 500T

5219 film. I used the push process during mission scenes and

basically developed normally for regular scenes, including

GANTZ room scenes. We wanted ordinary scenes— on a

rooftop at sunset, for example —to be reassuringly realistic,

yet visually rich. After all, this scene, the longest moment of

normal reality, gives the audience their only reprieve from the

somewhat gruesome missions.

focus on film 9

Although the alien fight scenes are mostly shot under

low-key lighting, we gradually change the level of darkness in

each of the three missions. In this respect as well, film was a

good choice for the rich gradation and expression possible.

Rather than simply being filled with vague shadows, these

scenes retained details that were clearly visible, and those that

weren’t stimulate the viewer’s imagination. Digital compositing

played a large role, under the circumstances, and we’re grateful

for the valuable work of special effects shooting by the VFX

team. In miniature shooting and other production, their work

was almost a perfect match for what we had envisioned.

Saito: It occurred to me that if the movie

had been shot in HD, post-production

would have required lots of extra care.

We never could have created this mood.

I’m afraid to imagine what the GANTZ

room would have looked like in HD. And

I think the special development—push

and pull processing to create just the right

effect—truly enhances the performance in

each scene.

A highly original sequel

Kawazu: Although the first movie

stayed fairly close to the original manga,

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the sequel was highly original. It seems

like a totally different movie. In how the

movie was shot, as well, we tried a different approach this time.

But I believe that by adding some of the “spice” that makes

GANTZ special, we succeeded in telling an engaging story.

The director said he sought to make a totally different movie,

although one following in the same tradition.

Gantz.indd 2 05/10/2011 15:35

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