TV Tokyo Uses URSA Mini 4.6K, Resolve 14 and Resolve Mini Panel

Blackmagic Design recently announced that TV Tokyo’s new drama series ‘Izakaya Fuji’, which began airing this July, was shot using two Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6Ks as the A and B cameras, as well as Blackmagic’s Video Assist and Video Assist 4K, and SmartView 4K. On-set and final grading for the series was done using DaVinci Resolve Studio 14 and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel.

The drama series is based on the novel depicting the life of a man named Oyaji who ran the Izakaya Fuji, a Japanese style tapas restaurant in Tokyo and who passed away in 2014. Kento Nagayama stars as young actor, Eiichi Nishio, while many well known actors lend cameo appearances as regular customers of ‘Izakaya Fuji’. For every episode the producers cast a new famous guest actor, such as Ryoko Shinohara or Ren Osugi. The story depicts Eiich as he struggles to pursue his dream of becoming an actor by virtue of meeting those celebrity customers and hearing the story of Oyaji.

The drama has been available via Amazon Prime Video a week before the official TV Tokyo on-air date. Director of photography for the series, Takahiro Imai said. “We had to deliver the master for Amazon Prime Video as Ultra HD 4K, so we needed something that could shoot more than 4K resolution. Most of the cameras on the market in that category cannot shoot RAW inside the camera so it usually requires a recorder. We were looking for a camera with good picture quality and that was easy to handle, and we wanted to use two of them. With limited budget the URSA Mini 4.6K was the only choice that met our requirements.”

For the production each URSA Mini 4.6K was equipped with URSA Mini Viewfinders and Shoulder Mount Kits, as well as Video Assist for use as external monitor for camera-A. The SmartView 4K was used to monitor the A-camera’s output, with the Video Assist 4K used to monitor the B-camera’s output.

Imai added, “We made the set look very similar to the interior of the actual ‘Fuji’. It is so small that you probably can fit about 10 people. The URSA Mini was very handy as it could be taken into this very small space. We also had a couple of shoots with a gimbal. As the camera was already compact and easy to mount on the gimbal we did not have to bring other small cameras for those shoots.”

When test shooting a dedicated LUT was made for the series and used during the shooting. Genta Tamaki, data manager, online editor and colourist for the drama ‘Interceptor’ said, “As we did not have a DIT for this project I made an LUT at the test shoot so that the shooting team could use it on-set. We knew we would use DaVinci Resolve for grading so it was beneficial to make a look for the project using the DaVinci Resolve and camera filters on set, so the DP and the colourist could share the same goal of how the picture would look. It was also a big advantage that we could apply the LUT to URSA Mini directly.”

Imai continued, “By applying the LUT, if you send the camera output to monitor you can see an image that’s very close to the final look. I can disable the LUT on the viewfinder while other monitors show the image with the LUT, so it is very flexible. It was easier for the lighting staff to adjust lighting as he could check with the look and see it is close to final grade.

“With base ISO set to 800 I could shoot very clean images. Even though it was in a studio shoot, most of lighting sources are from the regular lights used on the set, not film shooting lights. So being able to capture clean image with ISO800 was a big help for our shoot. We fully used the cameras for a month and never had trouble. It was amazing what a camera with a price of $6000 can do.”

For grading, DaVinci Resolve 14 and DaVinci Mini Panel were used. Genta Tamaki added, “We had to deliver the Ultra HD ProRes master for Amazon Prime, so the performance speed of Resolve 14 was a big help for me. The smoothness of playback of Ultra HD 30P timeline could not compare with the older version. I made a collaboration system with two Macs and a Linux machine. My assistant used one Mac and I mainly used Linux because it’s more powerful. Another Mac was used for rendering ProRes files or for me to use Mac only software. It was very effective how I could leave rendering to one machine while I was working on a new episode.

“I also had my assistant to use Fusion via Fusion Connect. It was to erase phone numbers on some shots which we could not show, and to draw complicated masks which were quicker and easier to track in Fusion.

“As we used DaVinci Resolve throughout the project, from shooting to post production, we did not worry that the look would change. We spent a lot of time to make the look on-set, so in post we did not have to spend extra time doing that and were able to concentrate on matching shots in a timeline and adjusting contrast. Also, by using the Mini Panel, I could control the RAW setting with physical knob controls. It was easy to use,” Tamaki concluded.

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