Capturing natural World Heritage sites in high-resolution video to preserve them as a visual legacy for future generations— production staff from “The World Heritage” documentary series tell us about using Canon’s 4K cameras for this endeavor.
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“The World Heritage” is a popular television program produced by TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.) that has documented hundreds of sites around the world considered precious to all of humanity. “Our approach has been to use the highest standard of video technology available to record these World Heritage sites for posterity,” says 4K Special Series Producer Naohiko Ogawa. “Our efforts are aimed at preserving a visual legacy for future generations.”
Extra time is put into the high-resolution video production of the series’ 4K specials, aired four times a year. The World Heritage sites are carefully selected, filmed entirely using 4K cameras and then the footage is converted into full HD for terrestrial digital broadcasting. One of those specials was “The Hills that Produce the World’s Best Champagne—Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars,” which aired on December 10, 2017.
The region of Champagne is where production of the fizzy drink was first established—from grape cultivation and fermentation to distribution. UNESCO recognized the cultural and historical value of champagne as a celebratory drink worldwide with the designation of the region as a World Heritage site in 2015. “I wanted to film the beautiful hills of the Champagne region and the delicate bubbles of champagne. That is how this project got started,” reflected Director Ryo Taguchi.
The team visited France in September, the grape harvesting season, bringing with them four 4K Canon cameras equipped with the latest technology, including the EOS C700 and the EOS C300 Mark II. They went to the village of Hautvillers, the birthplace of champagne, and to the town of Epernay, with its many champagne houses. They filmed historic vineyards, production methods that haven’t changed in 300 years and other facets of the champagne production process in 4K to tell the story of how this drink spread around the world as the drink of choice for a celebratory toast.
The EOS C700, used as the main camera
Currently, the 4K specials are recorded in Canon’s proprietary Canon Log format. According to Taguchi, “When shooting with an ordinary format, if you try to bring out the detail of clouds in a bright sky, the fields below that are in shadow will be ‘blacked out.’ In contrast, if you try to bring out the detail in a dark area, the bright area will get ‘whited out.’ But with this format, color grading can be performed on the recorded data afterwards, and you can bring out both lights and darks well. Effectively, this means you can take each scene and bring out the full reality of it, and create a sense of being right there, with more beautiful, impressive visuals.”
The recording format was not the only Canon technology that supported the filming in Champagne. As Videographer Yuki Muroya describes it, “Shooting within a dark curve, we were able to raise the ISO sensitivity higher than usual. This would normally increase the possibility of noise, but the EOS C700 is good with dark areas, so I was able to clearly show the texture of a stone wall, for example, or the gradations of other dark areas.” Additionally, to shoot champagne bubbles, one of the production’s key visuals, the Canon EF 180 mm f/3.5L Macro USM fixed-focal-length lens was used.
Muroya adds, “That allowed me to capture the motion of the bubbles in a striking way as they rose up from the bottom of the glass. With the availability of so many interchangeable lenses, I could choose the best lens for each scene and, using them in combination with the EOS C700, really raise the quality of the images.”
Videographer Coverage Technology Department TBS-TEX
Yuki Muroya (left)
Director Media Business Division, TBS Vision
Ryo Taguchi (center)
Deputy Director-General, Media Business Division (4K Special Series Producer) TBS Vision
Naohiko Ogawa (right)
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