Kazuhiko Saika

Professor, Surugadai University Media Information

Kazuhiko Saika resides in Tokyo and teaches film from both a theoretical and practical perspective as a professor at Surugadai University. His research focuses on workflow based on cutting-edge technology. As a planning director at a commercial film production company, he was involved in many commercial film projects and also witnessed the dawn of non-linear film editing. In recent years, he has focused on single-lens video and actively expressed himself through 4K film.

"Expression comes from sensibility and technical skill; it is a two-horse carriage. People cannot continue to be creators if they are able to manage only one."

Kazuhiko Saika directed television commercials in the early 90's. In film production at the time, directing, shooting, and editing roles were clearly delineated and performed by individuals with a great deal of specialized knowledge. However, in Japanese commercial production locations, directors traditionally did offline editing as well. The offline editing process in film work had already moved from rush editing by film into linear editing by videotape. Tape editing was cost-effective and had other benefits as well, but even high-quality editing was limited by the time required for pre-roll and the low precision of the machines. Saika felt limited by systems that would not allow the images in his mind to be instantly reflected in his edits.

Offline editing by computer started around that time and became the impetus for Avid Co.'s rise to power. The non-linear editing initiated by Avid was extremely close to film editing. The random access and detailed 1-frame editing instantly expanded the possibilities and quality of offline editing. "It was a moment in which we felt technology promoting creativity." Saika felt so strongly about this that he directly negotiated with their commercial production president to introduce non-linear editing system, which was highly acclaimed but still in its infancy.

An Uphill Battle

"It was my suggestion, so I had to be able to use it properly. I was already fairly accustomed to the operation itself, but lacked the know-how for troubleshooting and speeding things up. It took a lot of effort," said Saika who was a director and spent many years fighting an uphill battle as a technician. "In those days, I didn't even know that external hard drives, like SCSI devices, needed terminators or fixed IDs. Mastery over the effects of storage speed on the entire system and the fear of data loss were your life line during that period," he said, reflecting on how that watershed period greatly changed his career. The time had come when a creator with nothing but creativity on his mind and zero interest in technology would not succeed, so Saika decided to change direction.

"Expression comes from sensibility and technical skill; it is a two-horse carriage. People cannot continue to be creators if they can manage only one." This is what Saika felt, and this may have been true all along. Expression changed greatly when silent films became audible films, and when black and white films became color films. Expression and technology are not static; they have changed with the times. Sensibility and technical skill, plus the theory and technology supporting each have developed a reciprocal relationship.


While Teaching Film at University

Saika relied solely on his sensibility for expression as a young director. By adding digital technology to the mix, he has acquired a two-horse carriage and now creates pieces while teaching film at university.

He explains, "The students are natives of the digital era and manage digital equipment without having to think twice. That's because the user interfaces of digital devices have evolved to become simple to operate even when they are highly complex. But I think there's a trap there." He feels that the complexities of digital devices have become black boxes and he fears that this lowers users' fundamental knowledge of the instruments. "Everything is fine when everything is operating smoothly. However, when on location, one must constantly fight to overcome barriers in terms of both creativity and machine operation. You can't stand still at times like that, you have to be prepared to try everything."

Developing students into such human resources is Saika's challenge and he believes it is his role. "Each role differs from small projects with one or two people to projects incorporating dozens of people, but the common theme throughout is to constantly envision sensibility and technical skill as one and treat them this way."

Workflow and Technology

Saika incorporates various G-Technology products into his personal workflow. With respect to on-location backup at video shoots, he says, "With filming data, unless it's a sand storm, copies are made to hard drives right away when the camera memory slot lid opens in order to secure that redundancy. At times like these, using the G-DRIVE ev ATC greatly reduces risks caused by rain, thunder, and other environmental factors. I think the G-DOCK ev on RAID 1 mirroring format provides the best balance of work speed and reliability in situations in which there is no time to spare when you have a power source on location because by making one copy, you're actually creating two backups."

Also, in the post-production process, "If you only focus on performance, it becomes a question of what RAID format you use to win the speed battle. And with RAID 0, safety is not completely guaranteed and the impact can be huge if and when trouble occurs. It's trial and error when trying to construct a system that balances performance and reliability." As such, G-DRIVE PRO or G-RAID and a multi-bay format are lined up with Studio Series in multiple configurations based on circumstances in an attempt to improve workflow.

"Knowledge about storage doesn't make you a better director, but good high-performance systems increase your ability to go by trial and error and increase the quality of your work. Technology isn't the star, but I think it is an important fixture on stage that facilitates the star's performance," says Saika, whose work quality is increased by G-Technology storage.

G-Team members are leaders in their respective fields who use G-Technology products in their day-to-day work lives. G-Team members are compensated for their participation.

G‐Technology external hard drives serve as an element of an overall backup strategy. It is recommended that users keep two or more copies of their most important files backed up or stored on separate devices or online services.

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