The Man behind the “Visual Treat”: D.o.P of “Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” at AISFM Campus!

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SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus “Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” is breaking all records with its successful run at the box-office. The film which is in its second week has garnered an estimated whooping 1000 crore across India, on its second Monday.

Mr. K K Senthil Kumar, D.o.P/Cinematographer of “Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” visited the AISFM Campus for an Interactive session. AISFM hosted a special screening of “Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” for its cinematography students and also for the camera technicians working for Annapurna Studios. Followed by the screening, Senthil was congratulated by AISFM, for the huge success of the film and the impact it is creating on millions of people.

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As VFX and storyline are an integral part of the movie, Senthil shared his thought-process and ideas on certain shots of the film.; sharing facts like – the film was shot on 4:3, rather than a 16:9 to purposely serve the IMAX screen. “The directors vision for the complete series was accurate in his head, and as the D.O.P, I helped him execute that vision through my camera. We worked with each other on most of the pre/post production,” said Senthil answering a question posed by one of our students.

When asked about ‘VFX to normal scenes ratio’ in the movie, and how it acts on his decision-making while capturing particular scenes; he said “The key is to keep it simple. I always try to keep it simple while I’m working. I have a list of scenes and I approach each one with the simplest solutions.” he answered.

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“As the film had exceeded expectations with the first part of the movie, the director had to take it up a notch, to surpass the audiences’ expectations which were set really high, already,” he added in the Q/A session, which was really insightful for the attendees who could gain behind-the-scenes knowledge about this blockbuster phenomenon taking over the world.

He also mentioned that planning and resource management is really important with a high budget project like Bahubali. He further added that, it took a complete year of pre-production before the sequel’s shoot began. If a brief idea of what has to be projected on screen is fairly accurate in the head, the execution becomes way easier. He mentions the skill-set to be prepared for instinctive decisions as when the shoot happens, improvisation for getting an edge should be done, naturally on a regular basis.

As Bahubali will be known for setting a trend, in the size that it has, it was an honour to have an interaction with the D.o.P of the biggest hit in the cinema industry, making and breaking records, in quality of talent and quantity of revenue, while uniting the world globally with the fascinating art of filmmaking.

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Drone Filmmaking – Master Class & Demo Workshop

The forefront of drone cinematography has paved its way up along the technical aspect of filmmaking in the course of time. A remote controlled operation to capture the flying view through the camera connected to a so made “drone”. As captured footage is meant to ignite a stimulating emotion in the viewers mind, the drone can be controlled in a way to cater to the stimulating emotion that the filmmaker wants to portray.

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Venkat C Dilip, Cinematographer (DOP) for Oohalu Gusa Gusa Lade and Jyo Achyuthananda, was at the AISFM campus to conduct a Master Class and a Demo Workshop on how to shoot with a Drone, for our Cinematography students. Venkat, as cinematography is his expertise started off by offering his teaching on the subject of camera, light, composition and then connecting it to cinematography.

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Our guest lecturer, followed by the Master Class, arranged a Demo-Workshop where he could demonstrate the process of drone filmmaking. With the help of Venkat, our cinematography students attempted to fly a drone and experiment with it on the footage. With a couple of tries, the demo workshop managed to provide a gainful insight to the students in a broader depth of cinematography. As the students would use such techniques in their future job roles, it gave them a practice on how to get the job done in the future, this particular way.

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Venkat mentioned to the students that the vision of the eye is the best element to judge a shot’s authenticity. With the evolution of technology, it has become precisely convincing to execute a filmmaker’s vision on screen. The modes of executing the vision have varied from medium to medium. Speaking of Drones, the technique behind its functioning is fascinating and the best way to know about it is, is to use it. The students during the Q/A exchanged a decent discussion on the nuances and trend from the top cinematographers in the west, doing it right and the assistance of technology needed for achieving the footage.

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The medium is still the message. A lot of drone films are experiments to see what can be done. Eventually, those techniques will, hopefully, just become another toolset cinematographers can use, like tracking or Steadicam shots. As various mediums and concepts keep innovating, technology does too. The filmmaker with his equipment in today’s day and age can achieve anything on screen. It’s the idea, the process and definitely the execution in the end that matters. Luckily, though, directors are born tinkerers, so learning a new trick comes easy. It’s even a bit fun.

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

What makes a cinematographer’s work perfect? The lighting, the framing of a shot or the movement of a camera? Is it simply one person’s work or an effort of a group of people? In an attempt to find some kind of common thread among the films that most consider “great” in terms of cinematography, Fandor’s Scout Tafoya personally polled over 60 film critics, asking them to list out films that “feature their version of ideal or perfect photography.” This is the result: 6 films that received the most votes.

  1. Days of Heaven (1978)

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

This film gave us the iconic dialogue, “You’ve got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven” amongst many other things. This romantic drama film is set in 1916 and talks about a farm labourer who convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune. The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

  1. Barry Lynden (1975)

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

Barry Lyndon follows the adventures of an opportunistic Irish nitwit, Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal), as he clambers inelegantly up the social ladder in search of a title and a fortune. At the 1975 Academy Awards, the film won four Oscars in production categories. Although having had a modest commercial success and a mixed reception from critics on release, Barry Lyndon is today regarded as one of Kubrick’s finest films. In numerous polls, it has been named one of the greatest films ever made.

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Old-school films with the best cinematography!

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“The genius is not in how much Stanley Kubrick does in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ but in how little”, says critic Roger Ebert. Despite initially receiving mixed reactions from critics and audiences, the film garnered a cult following and slowly became the highest-grossing North American film of 1968. Even today, it is regarded as of the most influential films to have been made. The film has also been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

  1. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

The twist is supposed to arrive at the end of the movie, but Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans pulls the rug from under our feet much sooner than that. What’s commendable is the fact that this silent film was the 1st ever film to have won an Academy Award for ‘Unique and Artistic Picture’. In this fable-morality subtitled ‘A Song of Two Humans’, the ‘evil’ temptress is a city woman who bewitches farmer, Anses and tries to convince him to murder his neglected wife, Indre.

  1. The Conformist (1970)

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

Bertolucci makes use of the 1930s art and decor associated with the Fascist era: the middle-class drawing rooms and the huge halls of the ruling elite in his political drama The Conformist. Vincent Canby, film critic for The New York Times, liked Bertolucci’s screenplay and his directorial effort. Not only this, but the review generator at ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ gave this film a 100 percent positive review.

  1. Night of the Hunter (1955)

Old-school films with the best cinematography!

Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis Grubb, Night of the Hunter was adapted for the screen by James Agee and Laughton under film noir. The story focuses on a corrupt reverend-turned-serial killer who attempts to charm an unsuspecting widow and steal $10,000 hidden by her executed husband. Much like most of the films on this list, this film too was not a success with either audiences or critics at its initial release.

“It’s about how well you translate the script onto the screen”

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A man of few words, he lets his work speak for himself. His work of making a movie look spectacular not just visually not aesthetically too. His visually stunning and brilliant work has been appreciated in all his movies, be it the recent blockbusters Oopiri, Manam, Rakta Charitra or his debut movie Rhythm.

P. S. Vinod, a cinematographer known for his work, he has worked across different film industries, from Bollywood projects, including MusafirPyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat, Tees Maar Khan, Bullet Raja to Tamil with Appu, Aaranya Kaandam, Kadhal 2 Kalyanam to the Telugu film industry with Paanjaa and many others.

He was at AISFM earlier this week to conduct a two-day workshop for the students; who were eager to learn more from the hands-on experience they thoroughly enjoyed. Speaking to us after the workshop, the famed cinematographer shared his thoughts on what cinematography means to him and what he feels about his recent movies that have been blockbuster hits.

What is it about cinematography that inspires or challenges you?
The thing with cinematography is primarily to do with your ability to visually translate a story onto the screen and there are two aspects to it; the technical part of it and purely the emotional part of it, aesthetically what it does to you. So each shot has a certain meaning, a certain emotion, it is meant to draw certain emotions and the challenge is in trying to make sure that what the narrative demands, you are able to fulfil that and make sure that the emotional quotient of the story is not lost. It’s not just about making pretty and beautiful images; it is also about how well you translate the script onto the screen, I think that’s where the challenge is.

Do you think cinematography styles have changed majorly?
There has definitely been a sea shift in the way cinematography has changed over the last decades from the film to the digital medium. There has been a sea change in cinematography itself from the time digital has come in; it used to be a lot more composed and lot more proper with every shot earlier. In general, most of the times, the discipline on the sets is generally not as good as it was in the film days. Because now you normally say let’s avoid a rehearsal, let’s try doing a take; so you lose your ability to plan, as you go on in the rehearsal you see the actor, where he is going, what is h going to be doing, so all that goes with digital and the number of takes, and the amount of coverage that you have is a lot more with digital; with film it is a little more precise. I think basically it is the same as how you would click an image earlier, when you are shooting a picture in the non-digital days with a digital SLR with 36 photos, every frame would be properly composed and you wouldn’t press the shutter button until you were very sure of what you saw in the screen. Now when you look at it, you click 100 pictures and then you go home and pick the one that you like кредитная карта онлайн. So, you are more trigger happy now than before which kind of does translate onto the screen, so it kind of puts more pressure on the shoot. Earlier there used to be a clear differentiation between the good takes and the bad takes, so if somebody doesn’t like a set of takes, the film was kept aside. Now, everything is out there, so somebody will say I like this but there could be something that is technically an issue, and it could be used for other reasons.

You’ve worked in different film industries, what’s the major difference?
There is a clear shift in the way the films are done in the South and the way films are done in Bombay. It primarily boils down to the fact that Bombay has more inputs from all the others teams like the costume or art, and it is independent, once you give them the briefing that this is what is needed, then they take off from there and we don’t need to get into it on an everyday basis, which is not necessarily good or better but it is just a different way of functioning. In the south, every single thing is routed through you. If somebody is picking up a costume, they ask if it is okay. If the art director is picking up a curtain, they bounce it off you to check if it is okay, if furniture is being brought, they run it through you to see if it is okay; which in a way is better if you have more control of every single element that is going to come to the screen, but at the same time it is more pressure because you will have to listen to 20 other things than just two or three things; so both have their pros and cons.

Studying in a film school, do you think students have an added advantage?
Yes, definitely! It is important to get some basic technical knowledge. Even if you are assisting it is nice to come from some kind of background to understand what you are doing, to know the technical aspects and then see how to apply it, when you assist somebody or do it on your own; it helps you. Today, all the more reason for students to do so because earlier you would assist somebody and then move up. But now, with more exposure and enough learning from a film school and with aided software, you can walk around with your camera and you can make a short film or a feature film if you want. So it is a lot easier for you to do something on your own instead of going the route of having to assist somebody. If you know the basics, you can start shooting on your own.

What does the film industry look for in students?
I think we are slowly getting into a slightly more systematic fashion of functioning which is also happening in the South, where you have more people who are technically qualified to get into each and every stream. Earlier you had people start from scratch. But now with a background from a film school, it becomes easier, so they can directly start from the fourth step. So it becomes easier for them and for us to start work.

You’ve worked with Nagarjuna in his recent movies, Manam, Sogade Chinni Nayana and Oopiri, any interesting anecdotes/experiences you would like to share?
I’ve been really lucky to have worked with Nagarjuna in three back-to-back films with totally diverse kind of characters. In Manam, where he was playing almost a child kind of character, then from there going onto Sogade Chini Nayana where he was a flamboyant mass hero kind of character and from there to a person on a wheelchair in Oopiri which is a complete contrast to his previous one; and to see him adapt to all of the characters was interesting.

“I am more of a visual story-teller”

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“I dream in 35mm”, says he and reminisces about how the fascination for it all started. “It all started in my childhood when I was seven years old”, he adds.

That’s Shaneil Deo, who is the talk of the town these days, thanks to his excellent work as a cinematographer in the recent Telugu thriller Kshanam. The visual feast and stunning frames in the film attracted movie goers. His work on the short film Layla got him several international offers but he chose to come to India when the makers of the movie approached him at an international film festival last year, because the story of Kshanam intrigued him.

“I have always been inspired by the world of photography and filmmaking. Using both as a medium, I have learned to channel my thoughts, capture fleeting emotions and use them to create beautiful memories. I believe in expressions of individuality, which lies for me in snapshots, editing and cinematography. Through films and photographs, I strike to capture all elements and create the most unique representation of the world around me,” says the talented cinematographer.

In AISFM to conduct a hands-on workshop on the finer nuances of cinematography, Shaneil spent good two-days with the students. Spending some ‘moments’ with the ‘Kshanam’ cinematographer, here are the excerpts of our conversation with him.

  • You say you have been inspired by the world of photography (and filmmaking). Is cinematography then, a natural transition?
    Absolutely! My father was a photographer, so I got my first camera from him. And I started doing photography, by shooting family birthdays etc. and I was inspired by movies and moving pictures, and that led me to try out of curiosity which then led me to cinematography.
  • Which medium are you most comfortable with?
    I enjoy both photography and cinematography, but I am more of a visual story-teller, so it comes down to cinematography. I actually feel photography is harder than cinematography, because you have one chance and one time to capture the moment and with cinematography you have 24 frames to tell a story, so I find it a little easier and I prefer cinematography in that sense.
  • Within photography, do you prefer the black and white format or the colour format?
    I love the drama that black and white creates. So, if the lighting is falling on a face and you just shoot in black and white, then you can isolate and make the eyes focus on a specific part. That way I enjoy black and white photography or monochrome as it is called.
  • “I dream in 35mm”, says your status on a social network page; how did the fascination for it all start, can you share more about the first thing that attracted you to it all?
    I was about seven years old and I had gone to a movie. I don’t remember which movie, but I walked in and walked out after watching the movie and felt like I have never felt before. The emotional adventure and roller-coaster ride that I went through after watching the movie, with goosebumps on my body, that’s when I realised that this is something that I can do and would love to do. One simple movie that made me feel like I never felt before, and I had decided what to do.
  • What’s coming up next, work wise?
    As of right now, I am finishing up the remake of Vicky Donor, after that just negotiating couple of pictures. I went to Cannes and met some producers and things have not materialised as of now, but I am in talks with a French team.
  • From SFO to Hyderabad, has it been difficult culturally?
    The journey has actually been amazing. Culturally it has been very different. I was born in Fiji and raised in the US and I don’t have any family in India. My first trip to India was in 2013 and I was there for one month and it was a culture shock at that time. The culture was different, the language was different. I don’t speak Telugu but I speak Hindi. I only knew about Bollywood movies and never knew about Telugu movies per se. So coming here now, after three years, was okay to adjust because being here once before, helped. People are nicer and very cool to work with and it has been fun. I haven’t picked up the language yet. They all teach me bad words first (laughs). But besides that I am pretty comfortable and I can travel on my own now.
  • How has your trip to Hyderabad been? What do you like most about our city?
    It’s been good. But I despise the traffic. The food I love! (he says with a big happy grin). I have tried every biryani house in the city. I am not big on eating rice but biryani is something that is out-of-this-world! I have tried biryani in the States and it is nothing like the biryani in Hyderabad.
  • Any tips for our students?
    First thing I would like to mention is dedication to the craft and what I mean by that is learning; to not stop learning about the craft. Just because you learnt a technique does not mean that, that is the only technique. There are so many different ways and techniques in doing that same thing. The field we are in, photography or cinematography, there is no one way of doing things, no right or wrong. It’s the way you perceive something. It’s how impactful you can make the frame, that’s what counts in the end. So I would say, focus on learning the craft, push yourselves, get out of your comfort zone, learn new techniques, try new things, be at it, regroup, reassess and try again. But most importantly, be dedicated and be self-confident. Even if you don’t do it right, you will try some other way. I grew learning through trial and error. I didn’t go to a training school and I wish I had this training facility available for me when I was growing up. There were schools back home, but it didn’t work out for me. We are in an environment where you can ask questions, there are people who have more experience and have done this before, so use that facility. Ask questions; bother them with lots of questions until you get the answers. So there is no reason that they cannot learn.
  • Your thoughts on studying at a film school per se and learning on the job?
    I feel that they both go hand-in-hand. At school you learn a lot, you learn how things are set up and you take that knowledge and learn how to apply it on the real set. On the set, it is good to see what is happening, but if you don’t have the knowledge of how it is happening and how to apply it then it is just like looking at the sets. So taking this application that you learnt at school and then going and seeing how things are implemented, that makes more sense for someone who is new. So this background of studying at a film school is critical.

He ends the discussion saying that he learnt Hindi just by watching Bollywood movies. Any favourite stars? “I would love to meet and if I get a chance to work with, then someone of the calibre of Irrfan Khan, I like his powerhouse performances,” he signs off with a smile.

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