Before the free practice, there was a meeting between Schulze Motorsports, Polyphony Digital, and RS Nakaharu-a legend in Japan’s motorsports world.
RS Nakaharu is an elite group of racing car maintenance and development specialists. They are true professionals that also replaced the engine of the GT-R GT3 twice last year.
The irregular combination of Schulze Motorsports, the only GT-R GT3 customer in Europe, with Polyphony Digital, the forerunner of virtual simulators, and RS Nakaharu of racing car service and maintenance, produces surprising discoveries for all parties.
This is a story we heard from Ogino san of RS Nakaharu. According to him; “In races in Japan, telemetry management is prohibited, so the live telemetry system that Polyphony Digital is doing now is really helpful to us as mechanics.”
This was a great surprise to the Polyphony Digital crew; “Something this simple to do is prohibited in Japan???”, But this is a relic from a bygone high-cost era, that stuck in the distinct Japanese racing culture.
The free practice begins, and the cars finally go onto the circuit. Thankfully, a media shuttle had been prepared for us: An ordinary Mercedes van but with a “Gran Turismo” windshield banner.
Getting in the car, I got excited thinking “Interior cockpit view!!” (Though it’s just a cargo van with the three pointed star.)
The driver Stefan takes us anywhere we want. Though he talks a lot, he’s incredibly good, even negotiating with the marshals for us to shorten our walk as much as possible.
On this day, not just the user team but the Polyphony Digital Freshman team moved around with us. Now, including my own self, most of us are on our first visit to the Nürburgring, and we have no clue of our surroundings. But having taken several thousand photos on the virtual Nürburgring, I tell Stefan to take us to the number XX post, because I know we could walk a few meters from there to a position where we can take photos with the particular lenses that I’ve brought, to take photos that I’m familiar with. And not surprisingly, it all makes complete sense and works!
Once at the Flugplatz, it’s the world of Photomode.
Adjust the photograph time, weather, shutter speed, F value, and focus area to values close to what was taken in real life, and voila.
Though there’s more green because of the different seasons, just look at the level of reproduction here.
I talked about my play style before, but again, I’m really not good at driving. Honestly speaking, I suck at it. But in regards to the photo feature, I’ve photographed an incredible number of pictures, having played the photo mode of Gran Turismo through and through.
Though there are always demands for more features in the photo mode of Gran Turismo, it’s also important that players without a lot of knowledge regarding cameras are able to take photos easily. And even with what’s available, you can still reproduce the world this accurately in game. As a side note, on the image sharing site “Flickr”, there are groups that upload photos taken in Gran Turismo.
A group that submits original images as is from Gran Turismo
Gran Turismo 6: Perfect Photomode
Photo Retouching Group
Gran Turismo 6 Fine Arts
When you take it this far, there are lots of incredible photographs that might make you think that it’s a game just for taking photographs. And though there are those that are not so keen on excessive retouching of pictures, if you think about this as a “mode in Gran Turismo for photographing base material”, this is a new movement made by retouch artists.
In reality, there are probably many players who have only taken photographs in the virtual world, but they would probably fair pretty well in taking panning shots following real cars on the circuit. I myself had never photographed at a circuit nor had even been to a circuit before playing with the photo mode in Gran Turismo.
But now, over a period of three years I’ve narrowed the gap between the virtual and the real. Gran Turismo is known among most as a racing game, but it’s a game that I would like photography enthusiasts to pick up as well. I use the photo mode of Gran Turismo as a photography aid tool now, to a point where I do virtual location hunts in the photo mode of Gran Turismo first, before going to a new real life circuit for the first time. This way I can determine what camera gear I should bring.
Now, going back to real life, regarding the spectating styles at the Nürburgring:
These two by the course side at the Flugplatz, are watching a live stream at the same time, really focused in watching the race.
And this group is, er, as can be seen, spectating in party style. Though maybe they partied too hard during the qualifiers, because I didn’t see anyone in Santa outfits on the final race day. It’s an endurance race but their passion is always full sprint. I can appreciate that!
And I found the course side object that’s a regular in the Nürburgring gallery photos!
It was here again this year, the all “too temporary” toilet. Sort of made me happy I found it.
The black bag over the seat is a camping shower pack that if you leave out in the sun during the daytime, you can shower in warm water at night, but I guess there were other applications… I wouldn’t want to copy them however.
After the free practice at the start of the qualifier, we went to the Karussell, a spot that’s all too familiar but not to be missed. We moved there smoothly with Stefan to guide us. And here, something heartwarming happened that made me smile as a fan of Gran Turismo myself.
One of the spectators stopped the “Gran Turismo” van all of a sudden.
Apparently, he wanted a copy of the Gran Turismo window banner that was on the front windshield. When we told him that “Sorry, we don’t have any, we’re just here on a shoot”, he exclaimed, “I’m a GT fan! Good to meet you!!” and let us go on our way.
Even talking to the creators from Polyphony Digital, they said that “seeing all these Gran Turismo banners, and all these fans, it feels strange to be the person inside making a part of it.”.
And we finally arrived at probably one of the most famous corners in the world, the Karussell. Apparently, this piece of concrete was originally just a drainage ditch. Drivers drop a tire in the drainage ditch-well, drop the entire car in the drainage ditch to go faster-Hey wait I’ve heard of this somewhere before. I think it had to do something with Japanese Tofu delivery.
From this position, we can photograph cars jumping out of the famous bowl shaped embankment, but many of the cars were keeping fairly cool this year, with not many cars really flying out of the corner.
The Schulze GT-R appears
Everyone should try recreating the scene with the newly added ISF CCS-R.
Set the virtual track environment time to 19:30, with about 20% weather, and if you photograph at nearly the same camera settings of “250mm, 1/800sec, F6.3, ISO320”, you might get a glimpse into the world of GT>REAL in the first qualifier.
At the Karusell, cars go around in a fixed circle, so it’s perfect for panning shots. The crew of Polyphony Digital tried it as well.
It’s easy even in real life if you have the knowhow gained from the photo mode of Gran Turismo.
And though the Nürburgring is the home ground for automotive development, there was something else that I noticed here.
When I spoke to one of the freshmen from the Polyphony Digital team during the location hunt yesterday, he had said that this was “my first time seeing motorsports live, and the first time taking photographs like this”. And that “The funnest thing in my daily life is working in front of the computer monitor at work.” The guy that made these geekish comments, was now intensely focused today, repeatedly taking photographs of the cars going by. Seeing this, I was moved by the fact that this place called the Nürburgring was not only nurturing cars, but shaping and nurturing the values of the people who visit it. I think this was the most memorable moment of this trip.
As we were all satisfied with our work here, tiny raindrops started to fall.
We called Stefan to move on to the Pflanzgarten. As we waited, Shichisawa san who was with us, was looking afar towards the corner before the Karussell.
We had no idea what was happening to the Schulze GT-R driven by Yamauchi san just a few hundred meters ahead at that moment. Maybe Shichisawa san who has known Yamauchi san for a long time, had a bad feeling that only he would notice.
As we got in the shuttle bus unknowingly, there was a phone call.
“The telemetry stopped with the car in 5th gear, and the radio isn’t getting through”
“The car’s stopped somewhere but we don’t know what happened to the car or the driver”
All of us fell silent. With everyone talking in Japanese with serious looks on their faces, Stefan the shuttle driver looked worried. The blood drew away from the faces of everyone in the shuttle…
But we started to get more information bit by bit, and by the time we returned to the lounge, we confirmed that Yamauchi san was alright, but since he had slight pains still they took him by ambulance to the hospital for some thorough checks.
The GT-R that had passed in front of us just a moment ago, the target of our photography, was not a pretty sight. And perhaps it’s due to the large, solid GT-R that the driver was OK even under the severe shock of the collision. From here, it was the battle of the mechanics.
But the work became stalled due to the large number of missing parts. As the team stood in despair, people from Japanese teams like Gazoo Racing and STI, and the crew of RJN came by, all asking; “What can we do to help!?” Coming forth to support in our time of need, going beyond the boundaries of car manufacturers. There’s an incredible relationship here-While they are rivals, they are willing to offer help because everyone’s been there before.
The work of Schulze Motorsports and RS Nakaharu continues, with no clear end in sight…
While it’d be cool to wrap up this entry in a stoic way and all, then again here’s a funny story from the mechanic of RS Nakaharu: The professionals of RS Nakaharu said in a machismo way, that “This is the stuff that really ignites the spirit of us mechanics.” Ogino san is their leader, and he further went on to say that “But in Japan you know, old age of the mechanics is becoming a big problem in motorsports these days, and teams with a lot of older mechanics use these taller jacks stands on their cars – because (with their farsighted-ness) they can’t see the small parts of the machine when they’re under the car if the stands are too low to the ground.”
The men from RS Nakaharu were not only good, but fun to talk too as well!