Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Classes in the Second Year

Apart from Professor C.V.Gopal , Assistant Professor Lall Jaswaney, Instructors Shri. K.P.Rajagopalan Nair (K.P.R Nair) and Shri.K.Ramanathan were in charge of the Second year classes. Shri. K.P.R. Nair used to take classes on special effects cinematography.

We started with 16 mm cameras and we had at that time Bell& Howell Filmo, Bolex, Arri S and Arri16 BL cameras. We have to learn the loading and threading of the film in the respective cameras first. Then mounting of the various lenses and fixing the camera on the tripod, Panning, Tilting, Zooming practices etc formed the beginning part of our training.

Bell& Howell H70 16 mm Camera

The Bell& Howell Filmo H70 camera had even an anamorphic converter which can be fixed in front of the normal lenses so that you can even shoot in Cinemascope format! Remember it was forty years back and Cinemascope was a rarity in Indian Films.

With Arri 16BL Camera

The Arri16 BL camera was quite a brand new one which had come into the Market a few years earlier and with its silent running and the 12-120 Zoom was really the star of the equipments. In those days the Institute used to acquire the latest equipments much before the Film Industry gets them. We had Nagra Recorders and Steenbeck editing machines when not many in Chennai film industry had heard about them.

In the 35 mm we had a whole variety of Cameras from Debrie, Eyemo, Sinclair, Bell & Howell, Arri 2A & 2B, Mitchell NC to Mitchell BNC.

In the Debrie camera there is no view finder and the frame was viewed through the film as in those days there was no anti-halation backing for the film negative and it was fairly transparent. The cameraman had to put a black cloth over his head to ensure a dark environment and also to prevent ant leak light reaching the film from the viewing eyepiece.

Eyemo Camera is very popular for news reel coverage as it can even be take to very remote location where electric power supply is not available. It has a spring wound motor which can run about 18 -20 feet per winding . So no worries about drained batteries and recharging. Film is normally loaded in 100 feet daylight spools. It has a three lens turret and electric motors can be fitted to run the attached 400 feet magazine too.

Later on while I was in Chennai I happened to come across an advertisement offering for sale some used equipments and I purchased an old Eyemo camera which I am holding in the picture given above!

Newman Sinclair camera was quite an interesting one, light weight and easy to handle. The threading is all done in the magazine itself like the Eclair camera. You just snap it on and you are ready to shoot as magazine change takes only seconds. It is a reflex camera and had an assortment of lenses. My favourite was the 40 mm and 90 mm Macro lenses which were very sharp and focuses up to 6 inches or so. It also had a 203 mm Tele lens which gave good results.

The Bell and Howell we had at the Institute was a special camera which can run up to 200 frames per second and it had ball bearings in its guide rollers! It was mostly used for special effect shots for miniature photography etc.

With Arri 2A or 2B Camera

Arri 2 Cameras had served our Film Industry for so many years and are still being used even today, stands as testimony to its sturdiness and fail safe durability. At the Institute we also had a Blimp for the Arri 2 with an electric motor for sync sound shooting purposes. For many years I had used that camera for my feature films including the First Malayalam 70 mm Feature film PADAYOTTAM . It is very much suited for hand held work and I had found it to be very handy before the advent of Steadicam.

In the helicopter with Arri 2C camera with 50 mm Anamorphic Kowa lens

During the shooting of PADAYOTTAM ( Malayalam - 70 mm) 1983

With Mitchell NC Camera

For many years Mitchell NC was the preferred camera for Studio filming even though it made little noise, it was muffled by some kind of home made blimps. Though the camera does not have a reflex viewfinder, the big viewfinder on the side (like the present day handi-cam LCD finder) gave a big picture. Only thing is the parallax had to corrected to that particular camera position and it is usually fixed for the final camera position. The beginning position is set by looking through the lens and once the frame is fixed the camera is racked

over before taking the shot. After "CUT" is announced the Cameraman will shout "HOLD" for the artistes to freeze their positions so that the cameraman racks over and looks through the lens to ascertain that the framing is proper and nothing is cut off and says "O.K!" Getting used to the Parallax comes after quite a lot of practice only and many a time people tend to forget to rack over before taking the shot.

Even today some of the NC Mitchell cameras are used for creating In-Camera special effects like Fades, Dissolves, Super imposition, Double roles, Masking shots etc.

Mitchell NC High Speed Camera

Pictured above is a High Speed version of the Mitchell NC Camera which could run upto 100 frames per second. In fact for quite sometime it was the only camera available at Madras (Chennai) in the 70's and 80's and was very much in demand for shooting slowmotion shots. The Camrea attendants used to demand First Class train tickets and used to get it too!

With Mitchell BNC Camera

The Mitchell BNC Camera we had at the Institute was one of the very few ones that was in India at that time. I hardly saw any one using it inChennai at least. May be in Mumbai there was one or two. This was a blimped camera and so was very silent. It had an auto parallax system with a set of cam plates for different lenses, so that as you focus the parallax is automatically set to the object focussed. It also had a feature that the length of the fade is preset and can be executed at the push of a button. There was also a facility for remote focussing through the use of a cable especially useful for crane shots etc.

Thus we had plenty of equipments to use and learn with, which was quite useful in our later career.


abhimon said...

all posts are realy informatic sir. you give us a great experiance in your life.thank you

Anonymous said...

Do you know if the institute still has that Mitchell BNC? I'm looking drastically to purchase one.