Japan TV Production

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Thu 2010/10/21 14:42 JST in Japan
After working for many moons at Internet companies like Amazon and Microsoft, I decided to focus on web development when I left corporate life to set up a small company called Mirai in 2007. Was initially consulting for companies like Disney and Columbia and then moved on to develop a web platform called Mirai Gaia.
By sharing my passion for Japanese culture through the web, the company vision started to become clear which was to continue to share Japanese culture with like-minded folks across the globe through web, media and terrestrial TV.
The "TV" part up until recently had just been interviews and features like the ones on CNN and BBC - never thought that TV production would be something that I would end up doing. Our first TV production is Culture Japan - the show that brings Japanese Pop Culture to the world.
Culture Japan is currently in its first season and is being broadcast on Tokyo MX TV in Japan every week. Even though we have only broadcast 3 out of the 13 episodes, the show seems to have gained popularity in Japan and looks like we already have sponsors for a second season. But I'll be taking a short break before Season 2 or each show would be broadcast from my coffin ^^;
Pretty much all of my time right now is spent either filming, editing or preparing for the show. Preparation includes everything from the filming equipment (camera, sound, lighting, tripods) to things like working with the makers/shops/locations/event PR folks to organize the shoot.
Most of the Japanese TV industry uses Final Cut Pro which I managed to get the hang of though the very late nights working on the show - I had no idea what I was letting myself in for ^^;
After editing all the footage, we send the audio tracks to the folks who does whats known in the industry as "MA" or Multi Audio. They add any sound effects needed and also makes sure that narration and background music is balanced out. This process is also known as "Sei-on" .
At the same time, the translator is working on the English/Japanese subtitles which are then read into Final Cut Pro using XML - this then creates a sequence with all the subs placed at the correct times - we used to do this manually!
Once the subs and final audio track is complete, we render the final video in full HD which ends up being about 50GB. This is then taken to a studio which records the show on tape. The tape is then taken to Tokyo MX TV for the final process called "Nouhin" which means "delivery of goods."
Learned how to use tools such as Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator over the years which have become handy as these are used in TV production a lot too. If you are interested in working in Japan in the content creation field then do consider adding Final Cut editing skills under your belt too as there is much demand for this skill set. But don't forget that you need Japanese language ability too.
Certainly have not been this busy so far in life and the work does take a toll on the body from time to time - currently down with a temperature ToT. But work is a load of fun and we've been able to do a load of interesting things and meet a load of coolsome people who all just happen to be friends of friends - the most recent being the CEO of Production IG. Working closely with Good Smile Company, Bushi Road and AmiAmi is also great fun too.
Looks like we will also be working on commercials, promotion videos and TV shows for other clients too. If you are interested in filming something (documentary/news/etc) in Japan and need a fixer to arrange all the interviews/locations and also need a local camera, sound and editing crew then ping me on Twitter or facebook.
After working in TV for only a wee bit, I've learned that there is a serious lack of Japan based Final Cut Pro operators who have direction skills too. While there are many operators who can paste stuff together, there seems to be a lack of folks who can take a load of footage and create a story.
We (and other TV production comrades who we work with) are currently seeking Japanese speaking Final Cut Pro operators who can also direct too. If you fit this description then ping me on and send along some links to sample videos that you previously worked on. We need folks who are currently available for work in Tokyo.
The rest of the photos covers some of the Culture Japan filming so far. There are some photos of the other production studios that we work with who we constantly Skype with. The TV production world also involves a lot of taking the last train home ^^;
You can also read how it all started and other Culture Japan related posts below.