X-H2: The Future of Filmmaking with 8K short films

My first impression of the X-H2 is that it is “Everyone’s First 8K Camera”. No other mirrorless camera, including those in this price range, has achieved 8K30p Prores 422 HQ internal recording.
The camera that started the process of making 8K video available to everyone has been born. We thank and respect Fujifilm for this great challenge.

As I am mainly engaged in video production, I have often wondered if the X-H2S could be better video camera because of its high-performance autofocus and 4K120p. However, I chose the X-H2 because of the potential of “FUJIFILM’s 8K”.

The world is already saturated with cameras that take beautiful pictures and are convenient, I wondered what kind of excitement the 8K images depicted in this compact body and FUJIFILM’s colors would bring to me. I had such expectations.

In fact, it was the opportunity to do a test shoot in 8K once in the summer before the 2022 launch. When I test a camera, I shoot a woman hand-held in a natural backlight with no light. This allows me to test the camera’s dynamic range, camera shake, and handling all at once. The F-Log2 gamma curve, with its rich tonal range from mid-tones to highlights, and with a dynamic range of 13 stops, can make X-H2 record more tonal gradations than its numerical values. Also, with 8K, “photo cropping” has finally become a reality.

In terms of handling, I would like to complain about the operability of the camera, such as switching between video and photo shooting, AF/MF switching, and the position of the playback button, In terms of usability, I have the impression that the physical UI is more difficult to use than with past Fujifilm cameras, It’s about switching between video and photo shooting, switching between AF and MF, and the position of the playback button. And although the camera has a vari-angle LCD, I personally feel that the conventional tilt-type LCD is easier to shoot with.

Now, to the point. This test is the first time I have shot in 8K and edited it as 8K. I have a cinema camera that can shoot in 8K, but I have never produced “pure 8K video,” because even if I recorded in 8K, I sometimes delivered it in 4K. When I produced 8K video with the X-H2, I had a big realization. I found that 8K video makes you want to keep looking at the a wide angle of images. (This assumes you are viewing on an 8K display.)

Originally, images have been expressed by a combination of long shots and close-up shots. The long shot “shows the situation” and the close-up shot “shows the information. When I made a test film using this method as usual, I felt that the close-up shots were unnecessary every time I previewed the film. I want to “stare at the information on the screen” with a more pulled back shot. It’s as if I’m looking at the scenery with the naked eye, and the information that I can see by straining my eyes. It is as if the filmmakers are trying to guide the viewer’s gaze with cutscenes that say “look here” in close-ups, but it feels like a bother. This is a big shock to us filmmakers. The concept of visual guidance and eye guidance has changed.

8K is said to be close to human visual resolution. It is said that film originally began as a recording of stage plays. However, since the recording media did not have the same visual resolution, cutscenes were created. When we see a play live, even from the back seat, we unconsciously look at what we need to see in close-up. The 8K video is similar to that sensation of gently looking into the audience’s eyes from that location.

I used the X-H2 to create a 13-minute short film called “Detail In Life” in order to incorporate this feeling into my work.

All shots were shot in FIX on a tripod. With the exception of a few cuts, the entire film is an 8K short composed of a wide angle. The information contained in the wide angle is designed to allow the viewer to delve deeper into the characters. The film was shot in a certain area of Gifu Prefecture, and all the hints and information are hidden in the pictures.

The biggest weakness of 8K photography with X-H2 is rolling shutter distortion. This may be unavoidable due to the high pixel count, but I cannot help but mention the fact that it is noticeably distorted. To minimize the effect,I decided to shoot the entire film in FIXed on tripod, but I also thought that it was the best way to present the theme of this project.

In the actual shooting, for the first time, I did not use the camera myself, but had a separate videographer for the shoot. I decided on the angles myself, and until the actual shooting, I focused on the director of photography and lighting.

The concept of conventional images changed by 8K video was not only the way to use angles. This short film did not use any ND filters. (A black mist filter was placed in the mattebox.)

The shoot was done with F-Log2 and 8K ProRes HQ internal recorded I have arranged ETERNA to use for the preview on site

  • F-Log2

  • ETERNA (Original)

  • ETERNA (Modified)

During filming, the rig was assembled using a camera cage for the monitoring environment. A cooling fan was also installed for long runs. Thanks to this, there were no thermal shutdowns. As a system, the V battery supplies power to the camera and peripherals. The system was set up so that the camera could wirelessly receive the sound source from the same recording. A 5-inch Atomos NINJA V+ was used for the cameraman’s focus confirmation. The images were sent wirelessly from there and recorded on the Atomos SUMO19 for monitoring and previewing. Details cannot be checked without a large screen. It is also important to be able to check the performance with the performers. We also applied a viewing LUT to the monitors and lit them accordingly.

The color grading with DaVinci Resolve was simple because the footage had been created solidly on location. Since there were numerous scenes, we grouped them by scene, In the “Pre-Clip” section, normalize with the LUT used for viewing, and adjust contrast, Clip” units were used to match the look of the previous and following cuts, and “post-clip” units were used to add vignettes and other secondaries. The recording was done in 10-bit because it was an internal recording, but since there was no need for a detailed qualifier for the work, I was able to work without any problems. I did some qualifying to change the color of some of the walls, but even 10-bit was sufficient.

The X-H2 also supports ProRes RAW and Blackmagic RAW, so if you want 12-bit, you can record externally. I use a third-party app called RAW Converte to convert ProRes RAW to CinemaDNG and use it in DaVinci Resolve. I often use a workflow where I convert ProRes RAW to CinemaDNG using a third-party app called RAW Converte and use it in DaVinci Resolve, but this time I decided not to record because the app did not support X-H2’s ProRes RAW. I would like to try it when it becomes available. Blackmagic RAW was also attractive, including the recording capacity, but there were only a few items that could be controlled with the RAW control, so I decided to pass on it for the sake of ease of use in the field. As a result, I have the impression that the internal recording was sufficient.

At first glance, the film may seem old-school, going against current trends and fashions, as it does not use any moving shooting elements such as gimbals. But the beautiful look of FUJIFILM’s old-fashioned analog and carefully rendered, detailed 8K video, looks more cinematic than many videos saturated with “cinematic”. As 8K becomes the norm, many things will change. While realizing that 8K is what is required for photographic video production. I am also aware that 8K will require a photographic approach to image production. I think it became clear that we who were born in Japan, where “photography” is almost non-existent, need to study a complex of elements such as photographic visual language, how to read and understand art, theatrical methods of guiding the viewer’s gaze, and how to direct the performance and move the performers. I feel that the more instantaneous video production has become, the more in-depth video production will become. There is also something ironic about the fact that the latest 8K video brings a forced Back to Basic.

This is off-topic, but I also started shooting stills a few years ago with the purchase of a GFX100S. The X-H2 is also a great match for portraits, and it renders great images in both natural and artificial light. The film simulation is also the best, and most of the images can be completed in jpeg format. In addition, the Smooth Skin Effect, which is included in the X-H2/X-H2S, beautifully evens out the skin without being obnoxious, so it is very useful for photographing female subjects. This is very useful when shooting female subjects.

I own cameras from other manufacturers, but to be honest, I have no desire to take pictures with anything other than a FUJIFILM camera. I feel that no other manufacturer can surpass Fujifilm’s “look” without any compliments.

Again, the images produced by Fujifilm are truly “beautiful. On top of that, if they are going to put so much effort into video production, I think it is time for them to produce a “video first” camera, not to say a cinema camera. For those of us who do serious video work, I don’t think there is any need for a still camera form. We don’t want to put video functions in the form of a still camera, and then exempt it when it becomes too much, I am looking forward to the appearance of a “video first” camera that has a box that can realize the video functions we want to include, and on top of that, has a function that allows us to “take pictures on the side”. I hope that the X-H2 will continue to show us the possibilities that it has already shown us.