The Cinematographer’s Combine and the Indian Society of Cinematographers presented the recently concluded Camera Assessment Series in association with the American Society of Cinematographers and the Producer Guild of America. Chesta Shah Sengupta reports from the packed venue - a clear signal that ‘digital’ has arrived
A small group of optimistic cinematographers launched the Cinematographer’s Combine (CC) in between shoots and schedules to keep the community abreast of technological advancements and kindle the spirit of cinema - a rare amalgam of art and science or for that matter, emotion and precision. A direct result of this endeavour was the recently concluded Camera Assessment Series jointly presented by the Indian Society of Cinematographers, in association with the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and the Producers Guild of America (PGA).
Speaking exclusively to Digital Studio, DoP and member of the CC Anil Mehta said: “To get any idea off the ground is a challenge as it is against your professional time. It’s not one as if it is one person’s time, but rather a bunch of guys arriving together at the same idea and then the same team going out to make it work. This takes a lot of doing.”
The event had a good turn-out and had taken the many months of nurturing. The comprehensive tests of all major digital image capture cameras and 35mm film in comparable conditions conducted by the ASC and the PGA were presented as part of the event.
In addition, there was also a hands on demo of the latest arrival from Arri – the Alexa camera system and the new Sony SRW 9000 played out live on the big screen with a live camera. Writes head of technology and Digital Film at Pixion CCL Neil Sadwelkar on his blog www.neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com, “This was a rather good way of showing a device to a large audience. To my untrained eyes, the Arri tests looked awesome.“
The Indian tests were shot by two leading cinematographers -Sudeep Chatterjee and Amit Roy. And both were shot to film and Alexa and screened one after another, as a film print. Sadwelkar, the highlight of the day was how different our shoot looked compared to the one done by Arri. “Exactly why, is something I’ll ponder about,” says Sadwelkar.
Other key highlights of the event included presentations and discussions by some renowned cinematographers such as president ASC Michael Goi and Visual Effects DoP (ASC) David Stump. Nick Abdo and Cory Mc Crum, members of the PGA also addressed the gathering. All four of them were actively involved with the CAS tests. Highly acclaimed Indian cinematographers, Ashok Mehta and RM Rao were also honoured for their outstanding contribution towards their craft over the years.
But the main challenge to encourage foreign manufacturers to consider India to display their products and technology is in something that Mehta had to say. “We should be exposed to anything that is new and happening internationally. But if we need to encourage this then the entire system needs to be streamlined. Currently, every foreign equipment maker has been through hell in Indian customs,” he concluded.