Tokyo: A visual presentation by Joan Jimenez
September 17, 2009
Like many foreign nationals in Japan, I love living here and can't imagine living anywhere else. I always encourage foreign designers and other creatives to spend time in Japan if they can. For creatives, the design lessons and inspirations are everywhere. Add to that the culture's rich history — including the Zen arts — and the incredible food and famous hospitality, and this is just about the perfect place to study and experience personal and professional growth, especially as it relates to creativity and learning to see and think differently. For many foreign creatives who come here — designers, photographers, architects, artists, writers, etc. — the experience is even life changing. The massive city of Tokyo is but one aspect of Japan that offers its own unique, rich tapestry of visual intrigue and inspiration. It's hard to capture the essence of what Tokyo feels like, but this 5-minute video presentation by Joan Jimenez (Spain) is one of the best short pieces I have ever seen on Tokyo. If you have been to Tokyo, this may bring back memories. If you have not yet been, this video does a good job of giving you the feel for the place. This is a very creative way to show Tokyo.
I love this presentation. Joan has a great eye and makes good use of lines and shapes and movement by taking a lot of tight shots, etc. I do not know how the cinematic effect was achieved in this case. (In Photoshop you can adjust Curves to obtain a similar effect with images.) Some cameras like the Sony HDR-HC7 have a cinematic mode which records in 24 frames with a film-like effect. You can also play with the contrast, saturation, and brightness in video software like Final Cut I assume. This effect makes the darks very dark, whites very white, some colors very saturated, etc. so you lose some of the fine detail, which is the intent. I do not know how he did it (since I do not read Spanish), but I love it. Joan's inspired me to make a similar short film once we move out to countryside in Nara next year.
Great video! am just getting ready for another day in Tokyo - this video captures the duality of Tokyo: beautiful and ugly, old and new, back streets and high streets, calm and busy, shiny and rusty, commercial and zen ... I love the sound of semi (cicadas) at the very end of the film during and after the titles - urban nature.
Posted by: Samuli | September 18, 2009 at 07:56 AM
Wow, this is an amazing video which brings back great memories of being a tourist in Tokyo.
Beautiful photography as you say, but the clincher for me was the sound of the cicadas at the end - that captures summer in Tokyo!
Posted by: Stephen Lead | September 18, 2009 at 10:09 PM
Garr -- thank you so much for this post and the leadership vidoe you featured a few days ago -- both amazing! I sent links to freinds and business contacts around the world - they loved them too!
Posted by: John Spence | September 18, 2009 at 10:26 PM
This was a wonderful video about Tokyo. I visited 14 years ago on a teacher exchange and this video certainly captures the essence of the city. Joan Jimenez also did a great job of using different elements of video design and music to communicate many nuances of the city itself.
Tuscaloosa, AL USA
Posted by: Laurie Fowler | September 18, 2009 at 11:54 PM
He has the eye of a photographer ... which is what makes the movie so powerful. In fact, if you look at the movie it is really a succession of stills (which move a little) Rendering to slo-mo ads to this effect of 'moving stills'.
Bearing in mind the above and looking at some of the shots such as the subway tread steps at 2:09 and particularly the sushi bar at 4:07 you can see a huge depth of field effect. Video cameras don't do this. I'll lay dollars to donuts this was shot on a Canon 5D (still camera) which also shoots full HD.
Oh .. and just to make us all feel *that* much more inadequate did you notice in the credits that he did the music too ... ?
Posted by: Dean | September 20, 2009 at 12:53 AM
Last month I visited Japan for the first time and only for two weeks. It blew my mind.
I spent more than half of my time in rural areas and that was the first difference with my preconceptions. Once one moves away from the city center, Japan is incredibly rural. Large expenses of agricultural fields and forests, with narrow roads and very friendly people. I would hardly see other westerners.
Other important elements for me were the esthetic contrast between zen simplicity and the tackiness of some shops, the attention to detail, the punctuality and all the implicit social norms that made me pay more attention than usual to what I did and how I did it.
I am not into design or the arts, but into science, and I still would love to spend more time in Japan. Part of my plan for next year...
Posted by: Luis | September 23, 2009 at 12:36 PM