Scots festival draws Japan filmmakers

Written by Sterling Content
April 24, 2018


Written by Sterling Content
April 24, 2018

Dynamic culture chosen to showcase new tech
(Photography by Mike Pennington)

A traditional festival on a remote Scottish island is the subject of a new film by Panasonic Visuals, Japan, to showcase the firm’s cutting-edge production equipment.

Held annually in January to mark the end of the Christmas period, Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, Shetland, dates from 1880 and features a torchlit procession of local squads dressed in Viking garb and the ceremonial burning of a Viking longship.

According to Panasonic Visuals, Japan, a number of festivals worldwide were considered for the project but the potential to get dynamic and engaging visuals from Up Helly Aa’s activities was the deciding factor.

Max Ellis, production manager of the Tokyo-based firm, said the goal was to provide a video that wasn’t simply a demonstration of the latest technology but that would “move anyone who watched it.”

Ellis believes the dark wintry scenes lit up by flaming torches and a burning boat will draw interest in the film when it is screened at broadcast equipment exhibitions in North America and global sales meetings.

The production, entitled “The Festival of Up Helly Aa,” was filmed using the firm’s camera and broadcast equipment, in 4K HDR format. 4K footage has four times as many pixels as Full HD definition, the resolution of most modern digital cameras. The film’s aim is to improve Panasonic’s brand image in the AV field.

The large fires and shiny armour used were particularly effective in showcasing the 4K technology, but Ellis says the “ever-changing weather and incredibly strong winds” presented challenges. “Any shakes in the camera or focus would ruin the shot. We had to work hard to film in the extreme conditions without resorting to lower quality footage,” he explained.

Panasonic Visuals, Japan drew on the UK’s know-how in the film industry, hiring a Scotland-based director and director of photography. A team from across the UK, including experts on Shetland, was also utilized for interpretation and cross-cultural understanding, to support the Japanese team in the smooth running of the project.

“Our team from Japan very much enjoyed working with the UK staff members we hired. They were excellent film makers, the friendliest people we could ask for and were able to easily integrate with the Japanese team, despite neither party speaking the same language,” Ellis said, adding that Panasonic Visuals, Japan hopes to work in the UK again.

Watch the film: