Tightbooth – LENZ III – Issue 29 Article


Since the full LENZ III video got uploaded to the web we thought it only made sense to upload our Issue 29 LENZ III article online with an interview with Tightbooth’s very own Shinpei Ueno by Hidden Champion. Appreciate Shinpei’ words and some belter photos shot by Iseki Nobou, Masa Yoshimoto, Changsu and Bryce Golder then go rewatch this iconic video.

Photo by: Iseki Nobou

Introduction by: Jono Coote

Interview by: Hidden Champion

Translation by: Laurence Keefe

Photography by: Iseki NobouMasa YoshimotoChangsu + Bryce Golder

Videography by: Shinpei Ueno

Rinku Konishi – Ollie Up, Backside Noseblunt ~ Photo By: Masa Yoshimoto

The positive development of skateboarding as a culture is predicated not on the whims of corporations eager to co-opt another demographic, nor on the patronage of global sporting events, but on the creative drive of those whose brains are constantly, obsessively turning over the possibilities inherent in four wheels, a plank of wood and a penchant for DIY activity. Shinpei Ueno is undoubtedly one of skateboarding’s most visible proponents of this. Over the past nine years, between masterminding the slow worldwide takeover of Tightbooth, helping to run the Tokyo branch of Salman Agah’s Pizzanista! Restaurant with Katsumi Minami, and putting out a steady supply of banging footage himself, Shinpei has been slowly and steadily collecting the body of footage which would become the third volume in his LENZ series. The first two videos cemented his place as one of skateboarding’s major filmmaking talents and, it is safe to say, as a result this one has been highly anticipated.

With premieres confirmed for Tokyo, Osaka, New York and London, Hidden Champion caught up with Shinpei to discuss nine years of filming some of Japan’s best skateboarders, his favourite filming moments, music curation, the pitfalls of life as a VX enthusiast and more. Read on, and don’t sleep on one of the year’s most hyped skate video productions.

Kyonosuke Yamashita – Varial Heelflip Photo By: Iseki Nobou

It’s been nine years since you released your last video work, LENZ II. How are you feeling about LENZ III?

At the time of this interview it’s not quite finished, but after nine years working on it alongside other projects I think it’s the best work of my career.

Ayahiro Uratsuka – Frontside Nosebluntslide Photo By: Changsu

Please tell us about the main equipment used for this project?

The LENZ series has a theme of being filmed on SONY’s 1995 DCR-VX1000 as the main camera and the VX2000 as a sub camera, equipped with a Century Optics ultra fisheye lens MK-1.This combination of equipment gives the most realistic and speedy feel of skateboarding in skate video history. We’ve been shooting in the same way since 2005, so this year marks our 17th year. We’ve used over 30 VX1000s in total, and over seven Ultra Fisheyes. Both this video camera and the lens have already been discontinued and cannot be repaired, we’re also experiencing problems with software when capturing DV tapes.

Taihou Tokura – Ollie In Photo By: Iseki Nobou

A decade has passed since the last video in the series. In that time there have been many changes in the skate scene and the members involved in this project. You don’t see many full-length skating videos released these days, but from a filmmaker’s point of view what do you feel has changed the most in how you capture and present skateboarding?

I don’t think there have been any major changes in making skate videos. It’s basically as simple as shooting a good skater at a good spot. However, there was a change in the members involved in the project. I had an assistant named Naoya Morohashi, and it took me several years to thoroughly teach him how to use the equipment, decide on angles to shoot from, lighting, capturing video and rough editing. It has been a struggle, but he has improved his skills and is now imperative to our projects. I think it’s important to nurture young people to be able to continue producing skate videos that contribute to skateboard history in Japan.

Ayahiro Uratsuka – Gap To Backside 5-0 Grind Photo By: Iseki Nobou

Like your previous work, I assume that the theme and atmosphere will change for each chapter. Please tell us about each chapter (the part that you like the most etc.)

The theme of this work is ‘VX LABORATORY’. The idea is that LENZ III is being made at a (fictional) VX Research Institute. The most important thing is the opening, which was created with a 3D modelling of the VX1000 in full CG. I’ve been making skate videos with the VX1000 for 17 years, so I wanted to make an opening dedicated to the camera.

Rio Morishige – Gap To Crooked Grind Photo By: Iseki Nobou

In your previous works, the imagery and the music were well synchronised. I think there are many connections with the people who contributed music? What are the highlights of the music in this work?

With YO.AN as the soundtrack director, we worked together selecting music. There are many artists who continued to contribute music from the previous videos, and there are many new artists that I met over the last nine years. Some songs are newly recorded, and some were previously released. GEZAN was a song that had already been released, but it was re-edited for the video part, and Ritto’s rap was on Hi-C’s four-on-the-floor. I think DADDY VEDA was able to bring out the world view of TIGHTBOOTH. DJ Duct sampled the soundtrack used in the LENZ II like a sequel of the track. As for SUNGA, I fell in love with his music and used three songs this time. I’ve been listening to JSS songs since I was in my twenties, and someday I’d like to use a song in a skate video. That 5lack track with the theme of “doing what you’re supposed to do” fit perfectly with Ryuhei’s part, and Killer Bong as always came up with a crazy one. As for Southpaw Chop, I visited his home studio, sampled from the record choice on the spot, and built it with the MPC3000.

Yushin Hashimoto – Backside Wallride Photo By: Iseki Nobou

What are your top three big tricks of this project?

I think Ayahiro’s 15-stair handrail at Gaienmae Station is number one. It’s huge and the rail is so high. If you get stuck on the way, your balls would be done for sure. Ayahiro slapped his own face before jumping on the rail while saying like a demon “This is fucked!” I think that was the coolest moment of his life (laughs). We went there three days, but on the first and second day we got kicked out so quickly. On the third day there weren’t many people passing by, so we went there at 7 in the morning before the shops opened and finally made it. Right when he landed it, a father holding a small child came over to congratulate us, and all the junior high school students on a passing bus were clapping. It was a miraculous moment to see all those people randomly witness Ayahiro’s boardslide on that massive rail.

Kazuma Inada – Crailblock Slide ~ Photo By: Changsu

Last time you held premieres all around the world. What plans do you have for LENZ III?

The official overseas premieres are now confirmed for New York and London. We have received many offers from other countries, but it is difficult to hold them all officially, so we plan to pass on the data to our distributors and skate shops around the world that want to hold their own small screenings.

Kotora Mitani – Ollie Up, Kickflip ~ Photo By: Bryce Golder

What future projects do you have coming up?

This is the hardest moment in my life right now, so please don’t ask me what the future holds (laughs).

Rinku Konishi – Frontside Shuv-It To Stair Ride To Frontside Salad Grind Transfer ~ Photo By: Masa Yoshimoto


Filmed + Edited by: Shinpei Ueno