FS7 II visualizes the Sound of Kyoto

Cinematographer Kostis Nikolas knew there was one camera to capture the spirit and soul of Kyoto in an ambitious film project that paints an inspiring audiovisual portrait of Japan’s cultural capital.

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Kostis Nikolas is a film-maker and DoP. He specialises in the cinematography of demanding cultural and complex music projects that ecompass entire cities. Working with artist and director Marios Joannou Elia, Kostis selected Sony’s FS7 II super 35mm 4K camera to reflect Kyoto’s identity and traditions in a ground-breaking audiovisual project that’s scheduled for release in 2020.

The FS7 II ticked every box in terms of efficiency, practicality and most importantly in terms of quality. It proved itself every single time without fail.

Giving a voice to Japan’s cultural capital

‘Sound of Kyoto’ is a unique audiovisual portrait of Japan’s cultural capital. Authored and directed by internationally acclaimed artist Marios Joannou Elia, the ambitious film project has been commissioned by the Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan, the City of Kyoto and Kyoto Art Centre.

‘Sound of Kyoto’ gives a contemporary musical voice to the entire prefecture, blending performances from over 560 musicians with natural sounds to capture Kyoto’s history, culture and future vision. Dozens of indoor and outdoor locations featured in the film include Kyoto Concert Hall and the towering Sagano Bamboo Forest as well as traditional artisans’ homes and workshops. 

Kyoto choir holding instruments

Capturing the soul and spirit of Kyoto

Scheduled for international release in 2020, the film is being shot and edited by London-based cinematographer Kostis Nikolas. The film-maker was confident in his choice of the Sony FS7 II Super35mm 4K camera to document the soul and spirit of Kyoto.

“The project required a high quality 4K resolution that we are used to seeing from cinema cameras, but the shooting conditions demanded the ruggedness and versatility of a documentary camera. And that’s exactly what the FS7 II does – marrying ergonomics with picture quality.”

Man filming with FS7 II
Japanese woman in traditional dress preparing tea

Cinematic images, proven ergonomics

Aside from stunning 4K picture quality, ergonomics and practical considerations were high on Kostis’ agenda for picking the right camera to handle a gruelling shooting schedule.

“You have a tried and tested camera body that’s ready to go in no time; all the buttons you need to operate on the fly; lightweight batteries that last for hours; and a versatile E-mount that can take any lens if you have the right adapter. And on the other hand, you have pristine 4K resolution, flawless 60p slow motion and a very powerful log image. Whenever I wanted to isolate a detail of an artisans’ work, I would often use a fast, long, or macro lens and shoot with the iris wide open. Combining this style of shooting with the cinematic capabilities of the FS7 II you get as a result an almost ethereal aesthetic.”

A limitless creative palette for filmmakers

 The camera’s advanced colour science offered Kostis the expansive creative palette he needed to capture the people, culture and personality of Kyoto.
“The idea in terms of look was to capture natural, or let’s say ‘neutral’ looking images, and pass the creative control down to the post process” notes Kostis. “We shot in S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, which allowed us to do that. It also gave us the opportunity to take advantage of the sensor’s 14 stops of dynamic range plus Sony’s improved colour reproduction. The FS7 II ticked every box in terms of efficiency, practicality and most importantly in terms of quality. It proved itself every single time without fail.”