The bond between Indian cinematography and Arriflex

After joining the Film and Television Institute in the eighties to study cinematography, the first year was spent shooting still photographs, doing lighting practicals and lab work. We however watched a lot of films, argued more about them and of course dreamt of shooting our own films.

It was only in the second year that we got a chance to shoot on film. I remember my shot in the motion picture exposure practical exercise and it was a panning shot of somebody going into a building.

It was a bright day and the iris was cut down to f/22. I could barely see anything and some one shouted ‘start camera’. I was so nervous. The Arri 2c camera came alive – black and white film squeezing though the gears. Before I could get my bearings the shot was over. I wasn’t prepared for the flicker that I saw through the eyepiece. I thought my camera was faulty. My first shot in cinema was going to be wobbly. I had to wait for a week to see the results on screen.

I heaved sigh of relief when my shot came on screen. There it was – crystal clear with no flicker.

Guru Dutt with VK Murthi
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A Perfectionist Who Refused To Compromise

Marcus Bartley

When Rajiv and I were preparing to shoot Kadal, we saw lot of films which involved shooting in the sea. Very few Indian films were shot in the sea, but one film which caught our attention was Chemmeen, based on the famous book by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, directed by Ramu Kariat and shot by Marcus Bartley the legend. It is still a classic and even today, some of the shots take your breath away.

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Miniature Shoot

The concept of using miniatures in cinema to create an illusion of a real object has existed since the inception of filmmaking.

When circumstances do not allow us to carry out shoots in real locations with real objects, it necessitates the scenario of miniature shooting. It may be due to technical reasons, safety restrictions, economics of production, time constraints, or the non availability of the actual object or location.

Requirement for miniature shooting continues to be relevant even today for most of the CG works like compositing with graphics and real objects.

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Yes to Establishing Shots, No to Visual Cliché’s

Isn’t the Eiffel Tower symbolic of the ever-romantic Paris? Or is the clock tower of Westminster, the only symbol of London and British sophistication? In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, The Statue of Liberty in New York is shown as a beacon of welcoming immigrants into the Unites States of America.

How many times in American films have you seen the typical opening shot of an automobile crossing a bridge and then the car coming to a halt, in a suburban neighbourhood and the protagonist coming out of the car and getting into the house? The Great American obsession for the automobiles and their cities results in shots that have become visual clichés. The establishing long shots in films are not just images representing a location; they also set the mood of the film. Some shots rise above the ordinary, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the two lovers seated below in Woody Allen’s Manhattan – a truly classic Long shot.

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