melange Cinema

A digital take

Digital cinematography is the future of film making, says cinematographer C.J. Rajkumar, known for his work in acclaimed short film Aayeesha, Janaki Vishwanathan’s Kanavu Meippada Vendum and Gnana Rajasekaran’s Periyar. “Film cameras have become obsolete and the recent shutting down of Prasad Film Laboratories only proves it. With the fading away of celluloid film projection in theatres, going digital seems inevitable. Now, almost every film is shot digitally. Imtiaz Ali’s Highway was shot on a Sony F 65. A.R. Murugadoss’s Thuppakki was made with Arri Alexa digital cameras,” he says.

Rajkumar has written Pixel, a book in Tamil, on digital cinematography. It throws light on how cinematography and cinema have evolved with the times. The book, released recently, documents the history of digital cinematography and gives detailed descriptions of cameras, from DSLRs, Canon cinema E.O.S. cameras, Red cinema cameras, Arri Alexa series and Sony cine alta digital motion picture cameras to black magic cinema cameras and lenses. The 21 chapters in the book also cover the topics of data management, editing, post-production, digital colouring and details of cinema cloud computing.

“The book is a guide for beginners as well as cinematographers. I have shared my on-field experience of over a decade in the industry. I have used almost 90 per cent of the cameras described in the book,” he says.

Rajkumar says data management is important in digital cinematography. “Saving high resolution digital images is always a problem. I discuss software that helps one compress them in low-res format for editing. The changes can be recaptured and aligned with the original images,” he explains.

The book has earned appreciation from veterans in the film industry, including Kamal Haasan, late director Balu Mahendra, Mahendran and cinematographer P.C. Sreeram. Balu Mahendra had included Pixel as a part of the cinematography syllabus in his film school. “Their feedback has been encouraging,” Rajkumar recalls.

The author has also worked in films such as Mann, Asthamanam, and Panithuli. His short film En Veettin Mutrathil Oru Maamaram was selected in the competition section at the 59th Berlin International film festival. The Backwaters, another short film in Malayalam, was screened at many international film festivals.

Talking about the origin of digital cinema in India, Rajkumar gives examples from the Tamil film industry. “There have been experimental ventures such as P.C. Sreeram’s Vaanam Vasappadum, Kamal Haasan’s Mumbai Express and S.A. Chandrasekhar’s Mutham. But, it was success of films such as Thavamaai Thavamirindhu and Unnaipol Oruvan (shot in Red digital cameras) that made filmmakers take digital film making seriously.”

Rajkumar lists some of the must-watch digital feature films in the book. He says that 5D Mark II and III cameras are a boon to small budget film makers. Films such as Ballpen (Kannada), Vazhakku Enn 18/9 and Madhubaanakadai have been shot using these. “The market is flooded with thousands of digital cameras. The challenge for a cinematographer is to choose the right camera for the right script.”

The book, designed by Kalaikuviyal, and published by Discovery Book Palace is available at bookstores. Call: 044-65157525 for details.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 6:45:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/a-digital-take/article5969847.ece

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