Guinness records holder holds a workshop on Steadicam operations

IMG_1108On the 5th of June, 2009, the renowned Creator and Director of the hit television series, C.I.D, Mr. B. P. Singh held a seminar for the students of Digital Academy – The Film School Mumbai (Bombay) India, on the topic of Film and Television Direction, Cinematography and Steadicam operations.


 Mr. Singh, who holds the Guinness record for the longest television episode shot in a single shot and a single take (an astonishing 111 minutes) .In the seminar at Digital Academy – The Film School, Mr. B. P. Singh gave the academy’s students a hands-on practical lecture in cinematography, explaining via demonstration, the use of the  camera and Steadicam operations

Sharing some of his earlier experiences as a Cameraman and Cinematographer, Mr. Singh then moved on to talk about the ‘Power of the Camera’. As a Director, one has to transfer ones thought on to the screen. This is very different from writing the scene. Contrarily, a Director has to make the camera ‘speak’.

Starting off with his tutorial on lighting, Mr. Singh showed the students how lights must be adjusted to best portray the actors on the basis of the actor’s relative disposition in the scene. He also showed how lights can either be directed onto an actor or bounced off another light source by means of thermocol bounce cards. Mr. Singh compared the cameraman to the painter, a person who has the capability to start something beautiful with a single stroke.

The students were then instructed about the basic protocol that was necessary for any cameraman to know, such as specific ways to hold a camera, the right body positions one should take in relation to the camera and the right hand placements and grip that allows one to shoot with the maximum amount of care and flexibility. Also, they were taught the method of placement of the camera on the base plate and the manner in which it needs to be fixed.

He then delineated the effects that various lenses create with respect to the final visual image. With the help of a video assist, students were able to see how the size of the person on the screen relates to their position in front of the camera. Furthermore, they were taught lens adjustment in order to make the frame tighter or wider, as per the film’s requirement.

Mr. Singh then gave the students a demonstration of camera lensing and camera zooming. Students were shown how various zoom lenses were used to focus on a particular object or person and learnt that the whole point of zooming on an object is so that the object appears to be coming closer to the camera. He contrasted this with the camera movement towards the object by means of a trolley, particularly emphasizing the different ways in which the object that was focused upon grew in relation to its surrounding objects with each of these techniques. In the process of this training, the students learned how to assemble and disassemble the trolley tracks together, hence learning a valuable lesson in teamwork as well.

The students were then explained the properties of wide angle and telephoto lenses, which have bigger and smaller depths of field, respectively. A frame with a larger depth of field will have more objects in focus as compared to a frame with a lower depth of field.They were then taught, in detail about camera panning. After the demonstration, each student was required to step up and try out his or her newfound skills in relation to a thematic purpose that Mr. Singh wanted him or her to portray.

Each student was then given a chance to shoot a live acting scene with the camera, with the instructions that they were to use all the techniques that they had learned throughout the lecture, including trolley motion, zooming and lensing. While the students began their mini-projects, Mr. Singh explained the concepts behind individual character lighting.

Finally, the students were given a demonstration on how to use a ‘Steadicam’, which is a substitute for a trolley and allows freer and faster motion. A Steadicam is a stabilizing mount for a motion picture camera, which mechanically isolates the operator’s movement from the camera, allowing a very smooth shot even when the operator is moving quickly over an uneven surface. In this way, the Steadicam allows unimpeded motion of the camera on the set. Informally, the word may also be used to refer to the combination of the mount and camera. Each student was given the opportunity to try this instrument under Mr. B. P. Singh’s supervision.

The seminar proved to be a great success and the students learnt much about the field of Direction and Cinematography, simultaneously getting hands-on experience in working with the camera and shooting live acting scenes. At the end of the day, the students were extremely grateful to Mr. B. P Singh and took with them immense knowledge of procedures of filmmaking. Furthermore, they seemed to have taken a considerable boost in confidence with regard to venturing into the film and tv world as upcoming Directors and Cinematographers.

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