Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/11

3/11 (Sunday)
Today we filmed a scene of Shiro’s company “Excesstreme.”

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/11V3, Kazami Shiro, is a charismatic and young president of a IT company. Excesstreme is a fictitious name, and these names and settings are sometimes thought up by the assistant directors. We also are assigned to “searches” on occasion. For instance we found out what an IT company offices look like, that they don’t have a set time to come in, jokers don’t wear neckties and wear colored glasses and suspenders, desks are covered with presentation materials (many floor plans), most commonly used PCs are ThinkPads, etc.
For this assignment I had a friend in the IT industry tell me his experiences.

Back to Excesstreme. Scissors Jaguar, played by Taguchi Tomorowo, is usually a gentleman in a suit. When he transforms, he becomes a violent kaijin with giant scissors.

The Riders and Kaijin are designed with Izubuchi Yukat-san’s illustrations. With that as a base, we have the Rainbow and Takeda Dango-san’s costume teams make it a reality.
Oh, those who hasn’t watched “THE FIRST” may think that they say “Henshin!” and make a pose during transformation. However, in “THE NEXT” the Riders and kaijin either snap on a mask or put one on. This is how Ishinomori Shotaro sensei originally envisioned it. It is “Masked” Rider after all.

In any case, Excesstreme becomes a victim of Shocker’s plan. Tomorowo-san and Shocker breaks into the building and the employees are trapped inside. Tomorowo-san is wearing a protective mask and usually we use a boom microphone, but the audio technician put a pin microphone on him so that they could get a sense of being inside the cramped helmet. When I viewed it in the editing stages I figured out what they meant.

Nearing the end of the scene, we called for those who wanted to be “stepped on by Tomorowo-san!” 3 brave, masochistic souls volunteered. They were impressively stepped on many times in the final shot. Many extras hope to become an actor someday, so making a positive difference in the production is also happiness to them.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/11

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 10/19/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/6~9

3/6 (Tuesday) ~ 9 (Friday)
On the fourth day we were at the development site of Nikotama for a huge action shot!!
This is probably the most important action scene in “Kamen Rider THE NEXT.”

Bike action, car action, Rider action, elaborate explosions… it’s a barrage of action scenes. There are many things I could talk about, but I’ll talk about Scissors Jaguar since it had the most impact on me personally.

In “THE NEXT” we use a HD camera made by Panasonic called the Varicam. This camera can shoot in a way very similar to traditional 24P film, but we use even less frames for action. For example, the normal frame rate is 24 framer per second, but for action scenes we film at 18 or 20 frames per second. Do you know what would happen if you played that film at 24 frames per second? Since it has 4 or 6 less frames per second, the movements seem faster. Using these techniques enhance the speediness that make action scenes so exciting.

I got carried away on the introduction there, but the battle between Scissors Jaguar and Kamen Rider is impressive even at normal speed. I’m the one with the clackers, which means I’m really close to the actors, so it’s just amazing! So amazing! My head was so hot with excitement.

The bike action was handled by the Bushi Racing (Warrior Racing) team.
The scene where a car drives into the restaurant was also exhilarating. There were 2 cameras in the building and another in the car, a 3 camera 1 take battle. You can’t make mistakes on these kind of shots, so the staff’s nervousness is heightened. We thought through the shot several times and filmed once everyone was ready.

There are many more action scenes.
Please see these amazing scenes on the big screen!

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/6~9

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 10/15/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/28 (Wednesday)

2/28 (Wednesday)
Today we filmed our first wire action scene at the pier.
In this scene Hongo is approached by Shiro and gets punched, thrown far into a pillar. Action scenes aren’t handled by the acting crew. Action is the lifeline of the film, so they’re handled by the pros. The most important thing in this scene is timing Kikawada-san jump and the pulling of the wires. There was a mistake in the first take, but we got an OK on the second. Kikawada-san hit his bottom pretty hard on the first take, but he kept going with a smile. The spirit of an actor is truly impressive.
(There is a foam mat in the photo but it’s removed for the actual take. Kikawada-dan hit his bottom on the concrete…)

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/28 (Wednesday)

Tonight we just moved locations, this time to a cafe where Kotomi and Okamura, the Chiharu Fanclub chairman, meets. We got the owner of the cafe to play as an extra.

This is most likely the scene where we had the most retakes.
As a car moves across the camera the focus changes and a white hand rises from the back seat. The white hand was created by the makeup crew. We had an actor lay in the back seat of the car, but the timing of when to take out the hand, how the hand was introduced, or issues with the camera forced many retakes. It took a pretty long time since the car had to be moved back to its origin every retake, but in the end we got the shot that we were looking for. I felt as if the director taught me to “never compromise and aim for perfection.”

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/28 (Wednesday)
[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 10/2/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/27 (Tuesday)

2/27 (Yuesday)
Today’s scene takes place in Kotomi’s apartment.
It’s a night scene but we filmed it with the “crushing” technique. Crushing is done by covering up daylight and changing the aperture of the video camera, allowing for shooting night scenes in midday. It was such a tiny, tiny place that I could smell a good scent of someone’s leg. When I used the clackers I was in the closet like Doraemon.
In today’s scene Kotomi starts a conversation with Hongo while opening a bag of snacks and throwing a roll of toilet paper. Whenever an actor misread the script or the director said “once more time!” the filming crew had to hand them a new bag of snacks, roll up the toilet paper to its original state and hand it back to the actor.
When there are many NG (note: No Good, outtake, blooper) scenes and only one prop is left, our hearts are racing, thinking “please, let’s get it right this time!” and wait for the camera to start shooting again.

After the indoor shoot we prepare for the outdoor shoot. Unlike the indoor shot we can’t crush this shot so we waited for the sun to go down and then shot. Basically waiting for the night. Since the indoor shot was completed, the props and decorations are taken down. We called the other staff to help out and to take everything back with the transportation group.

Although the staff all like being in one place, we don’t work slowly. We concentrate on the job at hand to cut unnecessary time. After that day’s duties, that’s when the staff can freely communicate to each other. First we talk to our superiors in our respective groups, then people from other groups whilst keeping an eye on the director and eating snacks that the production crew gave us… It’s basically break time for the staff.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/27 (Tuesday)

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 9/28/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Tokusatsu Graveyard

Found this ever-so-depressing page yesterday that chronicled the writer’s trip to the the Toho tokusatsu studios backlots. This page was made in November 2001, and noted that the pictures were taken over a decade before that (1988 or 1989). Translated below:

Over a decade ago, while Kamen Rider Black RX was on the air, I visited the Toho tokusatsu studio. All obsolete vehicles from past shows were carelessly placed outside the studios. (They were literally carelessly dumped there.)

I just found the photos I took so I’ll post them for all the tokusatsu fans out there.

The first photo is the outdoor parking lot.

Tokusatsu Graveyard

The buggy with the word “MASKMAN” on it is the “Spin Cruiser” from Hikari Sentai Maskman. To the left is the “Live Cougar” from Choujuu Sentai Liveman. Perhaps exposed to too much rain and wind, they were in pretty bad shape. The Spin Cruiser’s bumper was bent and looked like it was about to fall off. I’m sure a fan would scream “what a waste!” if they saw this.

The second photo is to the side of the storage building.

Tokusatsu Graveyard

The yellow bike is the “Moto Lion” that Yellow Lion rode in Liveman. I’m not sure what the red one in the back is. Red Falcon’s “Moto Falcon”? (If you know, please tell me.) The pink one in the back is most likely a “Mask Roader” from Maskman. They just left these between storage buildings like pieces of scrap.

The third photo is of a special bike.

Tokusatsu Graveyard

The green bike in the front is “Battle Hopper” from Kamen Rider Black. This was still in good condition. The pink and yellow vehicles behind it are the “Flash Hawk” bikes from Choushinsei Flashman.

Finally, the most impacting photo was taken in the corner of the parking lot.

Tokusatsu Graveyard

There I found the trashed “Ginkron” from Brothers Fist Bricrosser, a very minor tokusatsu show. In the show Bicrosser Ken would lift the bike onto his shoulder while Bicrosser Gin was riding it and used the bike as a cannon [note: observe this oddity here]. I wanted to see how heavy the bike was but it was covered in rust so I didn’t attempt to lift it. The one I can’t figure out is the colorful one in the corner. It might be the colorful vehicle from Himitsu Sentai Goranger, the “Barikikyuun”. The Barikikyuun is the only air balloon machine in all of sentai history. With all their supposed technology in the show they somehow make a low-tech air balloon. Basically it’s a stupid machine. I can’t believe these still exist…

Most likely the Toho tokusatsu studio has treasures like these still carelessly thrown away like this. Definitely a place to visit if you’re a tokusatsu fan.

[Original site in Japanese]

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Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/26 (Monday)

2/26 (Monday)
Today we filmed a promotion video at a cafe in Shibuya.
If you work in this industry you can start seeing locations that were used in other movies. This cafe, for instance, was also used in the movie “Babel”.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/26 (Monday)In THE NEXT a key character named “Chiharu” is an idol. She is the younger sister of Kazami Shiro, and represents Japan as its top idol. She is also a friend of one of Hongo’s students, Kotomi. The promotion video is for her new single “Platinum Smile”. It’s a song within a movie, but the production is of an actual promotional video. The director said that “we’re putting this on the DVD as a special feature!”, so the DVD might include the full uncut video! You can also watch the video on the official website.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/26 (Monday)The toughest part of this day was the feathers that fly behind Chiharu.
These feathers were actually blown into the air with an electric fan. There were so many feathers that we kept picking up the feathers off the ground and had to throw them on top of the fan over and over. It felt like I was in a comedy skit. I couldn’t even hear “Platinum Smile” in my head, rather I heard fitting comedic music.

I learned that when people exceed their limits, they just have to laugh.

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 9/21/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/25 (Sunday)

2/25 (Sunday)
Today we film a scene in a girls high school.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/25 (Sunday) Hongo has finished his term at the university research center and now works at Jonan University and High School and teaches biology. Even our hero, the protector of justice, is having trouble with his rebellious students… Although he was a genetics researcher, the students are chanting “Hongo the Virgin,” and Hongo flees from the classroom. I used to think that finding a torn page from an “adult” magazine was the ultimate thrill, but it’s no comparison to today’s generation.

Today one of Hongo’s students, Kotomi, makes an appearance. Kotomi isn’t being picked on, but she went against her peers and her strong personality is clashing with their agenda. She hasn’t opened up to Hongo either, so she is essentially a lone wolf.
Kotomi is played by Ishida Miku-chan. She is very likable and polite, but once the camera starts rolling she becomes a different person. There was a scene where she gets rejected by her peers and darts out of the classroom in anger, which was very exciting to watch.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/25 (Sunday)Now, the text on the chalkboard in Hongo’s classroom was written by me. I studied information on genetics for reference, but the director praised me saying that “this is the best chalkboard I’ve ever used in a movie.” These little compliments are truly the best~(T_T)/
I didn’t get too many praises from the director this day…

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 9/21/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/24 (Saturday)

2/24 (Saturday)
We’re filming a scene in a bar in Ginza on our second day of filming.
Hongo Takeshi, played by Kikawada Masaya-san, appears for the first time. Hayato is suffering from his rejection here as well.

The bar we used for filming is an actual bar in town. The counter is made of one large wooden slab, and jokes are said in this scene. The production crew keep their eye open for interesting locations. They conduct location hunts lead by the director’s ideals and find the best match. As with any locations, many rules apply.
“We can’t dirty the counter, so keep that in mind,” said the filming crew.
Then, as the actors are getting prepared for the shot, the director told me something.
“When Hayato stands up, the rejection fluid shop drip a bit on here.”
“(I see, drip it.) …What? Drip a bit?!”

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/24 (Saturday)The rejection fluid is a combination of lotion and ink, and will stain whatever it touches.
The amount of stickiness is determined by how much water is added, which I observed from my senior assistant director. We ultimately touch the fluid to see if it feels right, and we were just going to use it as is… So nervous.
After injecting the fluid into the tube that’s attached to Takano-san, it was me that had to blow into the tube when he stood from his seat…
Director “Okay…action!”
Me “Pffffffffffttt”
……drip, drop…..
Director “Cut!”
Like a gust of wind, the production crew wiped it off the table. …Impressive.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/24 (Saturday)Today we had all three of the heroes, Kikawada-san as Hongo, Takano-san as Hayato, and Kato-san as Shiro in one scene. The chemistry between the three change over time and it’s fun to watch. The set feels peaceful yet we also feel nervousness. The filming for the bar is complete!
This night we also changed location and filmed a scene that involves an ambulance. The theme for this movie that the director stated is “alchemy of horror and action,” and we filmed a situation where ambulances were everywhere in the city chasing one strange disaster to the next.

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 9/18/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/23 (Friday)

[Note: Starting from the oldest to to the newest entries now, sorry for the confusion]

I’m the fourth assistant director Kato for Kamen Rider THE NEXT. This production diary is intended to introduce our day to day filming experiences and discussions that are usually staff only. Nice to meet you.

First, I’ll introduce myself. It’s been a little over a year since I started this job. I was a home electronics engineer for 5 years and switched careers, so I guess I’m a little strange. My digital lifestyle became analog, I get more phone calls instead of e-mails, company cafeteria changed from credit to cash, footwork instead of networking, drinking and socializing instead of time at home… I’m comfortable with the new work style. I like this better anyway, and I’m absorbing a lot about movies and its digital aspects.

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/23

Many call movies a comprehensive art since many people with different skills work on all kinds of things. Director/producer/production crew (assistant directors belong here)/production design/special effects/lighting/sound/art/wardrobe/editing/script writers/makeup/actor manager/car rental… Many people are involved. I will try my best to write in a way to explain what people do what at in the production of a movie in hopes that you might become more interested in the movie making process.
Alright, let’s get started!!

2/23 (Friday)
Tasaki Group, crank in! Preparation was brief, and filming is about to start.
As written above, there are many people working on a particular project, but every project has a different set of staff. That being said, the first day of filming is also a “break in” day, and the group’s rhythm is decided naturally. So, the first day is very important. There are no complicated actions scenes or dramatic acting on the crank in day. Like a ship at sea, the production starts slowly.

Today we’re filming a scene in a high-class club. Ichimonji Hayato makes his appearance in the darkness of the metropolis.
Those who saw THE FIRST will remember that Hayato suffers from a “rejection” since he betrayed Shocker. He cannot live without his blood transfusion. However, he has made his decision to never go back to the Shocker headquarters. His body is rotting away, meanwhile…

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 2/23

Oh that Hayato, he’s having a blast at the high-class club. He has enchanted every hostess in the club! He even orders a dozen bottles of Dom Pérignon! To top it off, there’s gold! …Did you know that there’s Dom Pérignon with gold in it? Basically it’s more expensive than the regular bottle. I’d love to drink it at least once. Sadly the bottle wasn’t filled with the actual drink (^-^;>

Since this is the first entry, let me talk about the production crew. We, the assistant directors, fall into the production crew category. The director is a producer and and it’s natural that he’s in the production crew, but it’s also the production crew’s responsibility to create the rhythm that I mentioned above. Majority of the “Test!” and “Rolling!” and other things you hear on the set are said by the production crew. There’s also a rank within the assistant directors: the chief assistant director checks everything and plans the shooting schedule, second assistant director supervises the production while handling the wardrobe/makeup crew, third assistant director and below handles the art/props department while supervising.
Now, the lowest rank assistant director like myself gets to use the clapper board. Once we see and hear the clap, the cameras start rolling and it’s as if it switches on the actors, so it’s an important item to maintain the rhythm.

The production crew in a way acts as the lubricant that creates an atmosphere which allows the actors to perform comfortably, creating the director’s vision as a team.

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 9/13/2007 @ Kamen Rider THE NEXT Official Blog]

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/1~3

March 1st (Thursday) – 3rd (Saturday)

Filming weren’t done on these days, so the production was on break.
Well, not really, since there’s a mountain of things to do.
The acting and production department both went to clean a building at Nikotama River where filming will take place on 3/6. This western style building will be the stage of a major action scene and is destined to be destroyed after filming. It’s a restaurant that went out of business long ago, so it’s full of dust and bugs. Even the insides of your nostrils will turn black without a mask on.

It’s the art and costume department’s job to turn this building into a “living” restaurant. Following the plans made by a designer, the building will be decorated with tables, chairs, lights, blinds, several hundred alcoholic beverage bottles, flowers, tablecloths, dishes, silverware, and paintings of Shocker. We call the food and drinks that we use on film as “vanishers,” but we don’t bring them in until the day we shoot.

In these three days we’ll also prepare clothes for the actors, fitting of the Rider suits, meetings with the director to go over the storyboards, Kato Kazuki-san’s [note: Kazami Shiro] wine décantage, official events, and much more.

(Today’s image is the filming schedule that we follow each day. The next day’s schedule is passed to the staff members one day before filming. I always looked forward to assistant director Takahashi’s drawings and notes near the bottom right.)

Kamen Rider THE NEXT Production Diary: 3/1~3
[note: Schedule of things to do mentioned above, with assistant director Takahashi’s “Kaijin Fun Fact of the Day”: Pick Shark from V3 episode 11-12, tells what moves he used and how he was defeated.]

[Translated by Pal. Originally posted on 10/5/2007 @ Official Kamen Rider THE NEXT Blog]

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