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Jul. 6, 2022

ARRI spotlights commercials and music videos: DP Kanamé Onoyama

Advertising and music videos are creative playgrounds for young cinematographers. DP Kanamé Onoyama talks about his work for global brands and the visualization of chart-breaking songs with ARRI equipment.

Jul. 6, 2022

Both commercials and music videos are fields with high aesthetic stakes. ARRI France dove a bit deeper into these types of productions and first spotlights cinematographer Kanamé Onoyama, a Japanese national who has lived in France for fifteen years. He came to study cinema at the ESRA International Film School in Paris after completing his degree in French literature at the University of Tokyo. Initially confronted with the difficulties of becoming an assistant, Onoyama was able to establish himself as a cinematographer in advertising and music videos, where he has since become very popular in France and abroad. However, his ambitions remained in fiction. In 2019, he authored the photography of “Abou Leila,” a feature film by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène, selected at La semaine de la Critique in Cannes, shot with the ALEXA Mini. He recently worked on several episodes of the second season of “Top Boy,” a cult series in the UK, relaunched by Netflix; a project shot with ALEXA Mini LF and ARRI Rental’s DNA lenses. Today, Onoyama is busy with international fiction projects, while pursuing a solid career in advertising. “Advertising is a very flexible business, always looking for new talent,” explains the cinematographer. “It was the first field that accepted me and gave me a chance. It’s much more difficult with French cinema. That’s also why I created the Divé+ association, which seeks to open up the field to more diversity, to discover new talent from minorities with a mentoring system.”

Watch Nike’s „New Girl“: A commercial produced for the Asian market

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In advertising, Onoyama has worked on a string of big projects with brands such as Pepsi, Uber, Dior, Mercedes-Benz, and most recently Nike with their campaign “New Girl,” directed by Caroline Koning (Bwgtbld). “Nike wanted to make a feminist film for the Asian market,” explains the director of photography. “A Spanish creative who works in Japan liked my work, so he thought of me. It’s an advertisement that I wanted to treat as fiction. I used the ALEXA Mini LF with Zeiss Supreme Prime, because I wanted a modern, sharp image with nice contrast and detail. I really like working with the ALEXA, especially because it is very reliable in terms of color. Whatever my visual intent, I get exactly what I want. For the past two to three years, I have been developing LUTs that I modify for each film. As I work on a wide variety of projects, scattered in many countries, these LUTs allow me to give my intention to the directors and postproduction teams and not have any surprises in the end. The image is already colored, contrasted, saturated, as I want it to be.”

Watch Kanamé Onoyama’s visualization of Stormzy’s mega hit “Vossi Bop”

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In 2017, Onoyama took on an agent in Great Britain, where he has since been shooting projects with some of the best directors. These projects also include high-quality music videos: Stormzy’s “Vossi Bop,” Dua Lipa’s “Break my Heart,” or Justin Bieber’s “Yummy.” “I do a lot of advertising, but music videos are visually more free, especially in England,” says Onoyama. “On the Stormzy ‘Vossi Bop’ video (Caviar), director Henry Scholfield and I took a lot of risks. I worked with an ALEXA Mini and shot everything at wide angle with a 14 mm Cooke S4/i. This video changed my life. It got a lot of attention, it got me a lot of offers and kind of started this trend of a very wide-angle camera, with characters very close in the foreground, with transitions.”

Watch Dua Lipa’s “Break My Heart”, a blockbuster music video with 500 million views on YouTube

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“Today, I work a lot with ALEXA Mini LF,” Onoyama notes. “One of the reasons is the size of the sensor. It’s hard to explain, but I have the impression that the character is more present, more real. The image exists, a bit like when I shoot with a medium format Hasselblad. I also really like the viewfinder of the Mini LF. With it, I can check my images at any time, without the need to install an external monitor. I like to keep the camera as light as possible, so that it remains mobile, intuitive.”

More of Kanamé Onoyama’s work can be found on his website or social media account:

https://kanameonoyama.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dive.plus.fr/

Opening image: Maxime Congi