When Bollywood goes beyond 35mm
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Remember the mindblowing graphics from Avatar, or the graphics from the trailer of the upcoming second edition of the Transformers franchise? The colours and the shots look very real, because these films were not shot on the regular 35 mm film cameras, but on digital cameras. The idea of digital cinematography for filmmaking started with Star Wars:
Attack of the Clones in 2002. Now, many mainstream Bollywood films are jumping onto the bandwagon to make full-length feature films — Love Sex aur Dhokha, Ragini MMS and Stanley Ka Dabba are the most recent examples.
Tribhuvan Babu, cinematographer for Ragini MMS, explains, "To put it in modern terms, I call this as the
democratisation of Indian cinema. What digital cinematography has bought along with it is accessibility. More and more people can make films without worrying a lot about the budget and other hassles. Another important aspect is also the story. For instance, it depends a lot on the genre that a person is shooting his film for. Ragini MMS spoke about hidden cameras and MMS clips, so it was imperative that we shoot it on digital cameras. We used a Canon 7D to shoot it. Two main reasons — easy to hide and easy to manoeuver. It was in sync with the story."
Interestingly, even major raw stock (film manufacturers) like Kodak and Fuji are now veering towards developing their own digital cameras that iron out the problems that are mainly associated with digital camera usage. Even with its growing popularity, Onir, director of the recently released film I Am, says that there are some inherent issues with shooting digital that need to be addressed.
"The most important one is that of lighting and the background getting burnt out. While digital does offer a lot of options as far as shooting styles are concerned, shooting landscapes is better with a film camera. Even major camera makers like ARRI and RED are now coming up with cameras that address these issues. It depends a lot on the skill of the cinematographer to compose and shoot with the light."
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