Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thrill of viewing your work

The Saturday screenings at the Main theatre is something we all look forward. Before the day’s general screening of the Film, rushes of the previous week’s practical work is screened, It is something unique as all the students get to see the previous week’s rushes both in 16 mm as well as in 35 mm along with their peers. Of course there will be shouts like focus or Arc whenever the projector operator does some mistakes. But how a can a projectionist correct an out of focus shot which had happened in the camera?

Seeing my work along with my classmates in 16mm Black and white was really an exciting thing to watch. As the images come on the screen your mind races to the time when the shoot took place and in your brain images run parallel to the ones on the screen. One is about the reality and the other the result. You think about the situation and how the shot was taken, how you had intended it to be and how it had turned out and finally how it can be improved upon. Mostly you keep on looking for minor errors like an un-necessary shadow or a burning highlight, a jerky movement of the camera, a panning or tilting error, a slightly off framing or a slight off focus etc. It is a learning process which continues till the rest of your life.

When it comes to viewing the Rush print of your work, it is always a thrilling and exhilarating experience altogether. You are anxious how it had turned out and there are other people in the theatre who are also viewing the rushes who will pass on judgement on your craftsmanship and ability. You are on tenterhooks during the time when the theatre lights are switched off and the start of the projection of the reel. Even though the process may take only a few seconds the short interval feels like minutes. Even now, in spite of shooting for many years, I still get butterflies in my stomach while I wait in the theatre to view the rushes.

But all these feelings and experiences are lost and gone forever in the present day digital scenario. The Cinematographer had lost the privilege of being the only one on the set to see the frame of the shot being taken. There is no more magic as video monitors are quite common on the sets and Directors, Actors, crew and even bystanders instantly see a crude version of your work and comment upon! For editing purposes a low resolution Tele-cine transfer is made in place of rushes which is seen by all and sundry except yourself as representing your work.

Many a time the Cinematographer and sometimes the Director too doesn’t get to see the transferred material. Many Directors see a rough cut version and that too while the dubbing of the film takes place. Only when the final release print is made the Cinematographer gets to see his work on Film in full glory! Even that too gets marred when digital transfer is made without consultation with the Cinematographer for releasing in Digital theatres! And the poor quality image with improper colour corrections remains the lasting representation of your work as it gets telecast on the TV channels and gets burned on to DVDs for posterity –Credit to the Advancement of Technology !

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