12.06.2021 Yusuke Suzuki

Medium Format Cinema Camera supported by Blackmagic RAW

Yusuke Suzuki

Born in Zushi City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1979 and currently lives in Zushi. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art, Film Department, Acting Course. While still in school, his interest shifted from being an actor to being a filmmaker. Moved into the world of video production. After working in a TV-CF production studio and as a location coordinator, he began working as a freelance filmmaker in 2004. He has been working as a freelance filmmaker since 2004, providing one-stop services from planning, direction, shooting, editing, and color grading.

Her specialty is “drawing people”. In particular, he has a high reputation for shooting women and beauty. Currently, the company focuses on Web-CF and event video production work. In addition to speaking at seminars, she is also active as a video consultant.

He writes for various media, including the web magazine “PRONEWS” and “Monthly Video Salon” published by Genkosha. He writes for various media. He is a certified Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 17 trainer. 

I bought the GFX100S because I saw the potential in Fujifilm’s definition of color and in shooting video with a medium format sensor. Just shooting with film simulation is enough to capture beautiful images, but using VideoAssist 12 G and recording in Blackmagic RAW (.braw), the GFX100S turns into a “cinema camera with a medium format sensor”. With a sensor of 100 million pixels, the maximum resolution of the GFX100S is 4K (8 million pixels). However, the sensor size exceeds the full-frame, and the quality produced by the medium format sensor gives a sense of depth and detail to the screen more than the 4K images we are used to seeing.

Blackmagic RAW is natively compatible with DaVinci Resolve editing and color grading software. Because the load is so light that you can work on a laptop if you have GPU with certain level. Therefore, there is no need to convert with codec and you can immediately operate a one-stop editing to color correction seamlessly. In addition, the recording capacity is not much different from ProRes, so I can record into SD card, which is also a big advantage for me. (Recording is also possible in SSD with USB-C connection from VideoAssist)

This time I used the 7-inch model of VideoAssist 12G and made production.

Blackmagic RAW, with its 12-bit color depth information, gives you more freedom in color grading.

Recording in Blackmagic RAW provides Blackmagic Design’s own color space and gamma curve. The color and gamma curves are different from those defined by Fujifilm, but they are familiar to those of us who work in video production. If you shoot properly, you can get a richer image by simply adjusting the contrast, midpoint, and saturation. After all, the primary grading in the RAW control can produce natural contrast and color, so the result is more beautiful than the adjustment by nodes

In this example, I created a story by incorporating various shooting situations, such as a dignified cinematic scene with high contrast, an interview scene with a view out the window, a making-of scene, a documentary-like scene with ground lighting, a color lighting scene, and a beauty scene.

In the beginning of the scene, the lighting was done with a lot of difference between light and dark, but thanks to the wide dynamic range, the luminance information I was able to create a picture with the contrast I wanted.

By tweaking the RAW data, I was able to precisely control the intensity of the light, and I realized once again that the sensor is recording light.

I used the GF lens for all the shooting this time, and basically shot with manual focus. However, for some documentary scenes with gimbal, I sometimes used autofocus. So I felt it was a good idea to use autofocus to support workflow.

Thanks to the wide dynamic range of the GFX100S, I was able to record the interview scene with no overexpose or underexpose. It was perfect balanced image quality.

This allows you to make changes to some hues and luminances in secondary grading in a very precise and easy way.

In one scene in the film, the performer’s costume is made of a similar color that is difficult to separate from the background color. 12-bit color depth makes it easy to separate such complex colors. Also, in order to express the passage of time, we tried color grading an early spring image to an autumn image. I’m sure you didn’t feel any discomfort!

Also, in all cuts, I used qualifier (color masked) for skin tone but this was also separated and adjusted without any discomfort.

For some reason, the three-dimensional feel and depth that only a medium format sensor can provide sometimes feel more natural than a full-frame. I think the combination with the genuine GF mount lens group is good. In particular, the 80mm and 110mm lenses are my favorites. Anyway, it captures all the light and resolves it beautifully, so the combination of Blackmagic RAW and GFX100S is perfect for beauty and other commercials. I think it is easy to deal with the client work which always demand high quality.

I used the highest quality Blackmagic RAW “Q0” for this shooting, and it took only about 1.5TB for 3 days of shooting. Whether you think this is too much or too little is up to you, but I felt that I was able to get away with less. In fact, because it is hard to tell the difference in picture quality at a glance even in the lowest setting “1:12”, you would film more effectively by changing the picture quality setting depending on the situation.

The advantage of shooting in RAW is that you can make up for mistakes in shooting, but more importantly, I believe the purpose of RAW shooting is “to create a better quality”.

In this sense, the combination of GFX100S and Blackmagic RAW will be very meaningful for creators.

I would like many people to experience the RAW quality produced by the medium format sensor. It’s “more than just full frame” in the world of imaging.

I look forward to Fujifilm’s further development of features such as recording at resolutions higher than 4K and high-speed shooting, and hope that they will show us, filmmakers, a new landscape.

BTS Footage of the Project