Interview: Doll Rokuta

Doll Rokuta usually makes promotional videos related to mountains and nature. He worked for a game company making promotional videos and TV commercials for games 10 years ago. Smart dolls became his recently found hobby. He has been using his professional skills to bring them to life through short videos.

Could we start with your job first? How much time do you spend in the countryside and mountains? What does your usual day look like?

On sunny days, I try to go out and shoot movies as much as possible. I climb high mountains about 30 days a year. There is a lot of nature around my house, so I also make movies in other places than just mountains. Having some video material taken in nature can be helpful when making doll videos. Other days, I relax with my five cats and, of course, do some editing and other work.

Why did you choose Smart Dolls? Had you decided to make videos of them before the purchase? What about your very first Smart Doll, when did you get her?

I saw the Smart Doll at the Mirai store last November and fell in love with her at first sight. We have only been together for six months, but we have been spending a lot of time together.

I also found the work by Danny from Smart Dolls challenging and exciting and it piqued my interest. Before actually getting the doll, I considered her as a model to shoot in nature, but after picking her up, I really fell in love with her. It is a very strange feeling.

What kind of videos do you try to achieve? Do you try to tell a story through them?

I do not have any particular message, but I want to make videos where the doll blends in with nature. I hope that the videos and photos of my doll can help someone feel better.

In which part of Japan do you usually make the videos and take photos of your Smart Dolls? What was the most challenging video you have made so far? Was it the Piolet Doll video?

I live in Nagano Prefecture, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Japan, surrounded by mountains and the countryside. I shoot in places that are within a walking distance from my house or about a 30-minute drive. I hope to go up to the 3000m mountains with them in the summer to do some shooting. Normally, I shoot just with my doll, but the Piolet Doll video was made in cooperation with a friend of mine and his doll at a frozen waterfall, which made it very challenging. By the way, the Piolet Doll is a tribute to Piolet d’Or, an award given to esteemed climbers around the world.

The Piolet Doll

The backpack was used in the Little Journey #10

In one of the latest videos, we could see a backpack you made for your Smart Doll. Is it the first accessory you have ever made for her? It really looks professionally-made. Do you have any plans to make other equipment or clothes in the future?

The first thing I made was an outdoor jacket. I downloaded the pattern from the Smart Doll website and modified it a bit. I also made a climbing harness together with the friend of mine. I am a beginner in sewing so I struggled a lot. The backpack was the next thing I made. It looks good because I used fabric from an old backpack, but the quality is embarrassing when magnified. The next thing I want to make is a set of climbing tools, and I would also like to make the backpack again. I think I will get better at it, so look forward to it.

Do you use any special video/photography or post-production technique?

Since the doll cannot move, I add movement to the video by using a camera slider and also try to express movement by a flow of water. I do color grading to make it look like a movie.

What is the most favourite Smart Doll video and photo you have ever made? Is there any upcoming Smart Doll project you are going to surprise us with?

I love all of them because my doll looks so cute there. In the video below, the light is very beautiful. And my doll looks adorable. It is currently the cherry blossom season in Japan so I have been shooting some videos with the blooms recently. I will upload them soon so you can look forward to them.

What cameras and lenses do you use to capture Smart Dolls? What would you recommend to someone who is considering to start collecting Smart Dolls and taking photos or making videos of them? What camera and equipment would you recommend to start with?

Since I do video production as a job, I have a lot of shooting equipment, but I use a compact camera called Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K for cinematography. I use a Sigma Art lens (24-70mm) and a Canon 100mm macro lens. I like soft images, so I would like to try using an old lens to shoot them. For people who want to start shooting doll videos, I recommend using a DSLR camera because you will be able to take charming pictures. I am a beginner in collecting dolls, so I cannot give any advice on doll collecting yet. I would love to learn a lot from others.

You have already told me that you like anime. Could you tell our readers which one is your favourite and what anime character you like the most? In what way has anime influenced you?

I like Steins Gate, Knight of Sidonia, Gundam series, and I am watching Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken now. It seems that I tend to enjoy popular shows that everyone likes. My favorite character is Violet from Violet Evergarden as she has something in common with dolls.

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