There are many places across Japan that are in high demand as shooting locations for video-related productions, however due to strict regulations and privacy laws, achieving authorisation for filming at these spots can sometimes prove difficult or even impossible.
The good news for those in the industry is that with modern technology there are alternative ways to get the job done.

Digital Reality Location is a project that solves that very problem by fully reproducing locations through complete 360° CGI. With the software artists can freely set the time zone, angle and era of the location to help bring their masterpiece to life.
The project is overseen by Geek Pictures and Visual Mantokyo, and currently offers virtual versions of Shibuya Scramble Intersection and Ginza 4-chome intersection. On top of that, there are plans to expand the project to include areas around Tokyo Station, Akihabara and Kyoto.

Curious to see how the locations look? Check out this commercial for the project which shows how the photorealistic CGI world can really bring creativity to life:

Below are some breathtaking examples of how the Digital Reality Location project is being utilised across different areas of the creative industry.

In Nogizaka46’s music video for 『Wilderness world』the girls step into action on the streets of a futuristic Shibuya Scramble. This video is in reference to the battle royale game Knives Out, for which 『Wilderness world』is the official CM theme song for.

A high-fashion catwalk across Shibuya’s ever-busy Scramble Crossing is pretty much as impossible as a possibility can get. But with the CGI world from Digital Reality Location, fashion brand Sacai has produced a video showcasing their Autumn collection with Shibuya Crossing as a backdrop.

A simple concept, models wearing the season collection step out from a helicopter located in the centre of the crossing and parade around the area.

Shibuya Scramble bursts into colour for this commercial for mobile game Toon Blast. Featuring Japanese actress and model Suzu Hirose, the CM sees the crossing transform into a world of colourful blocks resembling that of the mobile video game.

Contrasting the bright colours of the Toon Blast CM, Shibuya Scramble becomes the setting of a tragic superhero story in Vaundy’s music video for HERO. Actors Nijiro Murakami and Shintaro Yuya take on the roles of two super powerful beings going head-to-head in a dark grungy version of the iconic crossing area.

Much like the CGI software itself, reality meshes with the digital world in this tyre advert from Yokohama Rubber Company. Two timelines running alongside one another follow a young boy and an older gentleman playing video games in a dark room, and a girl walking around the Shibuya Crossing area.

A series of glitches make it appear as though the girl’s world is controlled by the video game the boy is playing, and when she falls, breaking her shoe it appears as though the game is over for the boy. It is at this point that she calls for help, sending her location out via beacon from her phone. This beacon is received by the older man who happens to be playing a different game that the young boy has been eyeing up. As the older gentleman heads to his car, the boy takes over his game, once again seemingly controlling the outside world.
As the car approaches the scramble, the neon sign boards surrounding the crossing turn to red, and the people disappear, allowing the gentleman to drift into the aid of the girl.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.