Guest Lecture by Mr. B. P. Singh

Adventure, Thrill, Crime! A workshop aimed to teach the students all the nuances of Direction was conducted at Digital Academy – The Film School by Mr. B. P. Singh. Being the owner of Fireworks Productions and producer of hit horror series Aahat in 1996, Mr. B. P. Singh is also the creator and director-producer of the Indian TV series C.I.D.

Commencing with providing his expertise of what determines the story, he expressed that the first scene of the shot is the most determining factor.

Honing his career with state TV-channel Doordarshan in 1973 as a news camera-man and moving on to handling the camera for another 10 years, he mentioned “Experience as the main key in shooting a scene”. When asked by a student about his interest development in this detective based serial, B. P Singh claimed his interest aroused when he started visiting the Crime Branch of police, and befriended Inspector Jayant Wagle. It was in this process that he developed a lifelong interest in detective based work.

Talking about his contour of work; it is ‘Story telling’ that is imperative, especially when it comes to crime or detective based story. A story cannot always be on the same chord. It’s like reading a book with a new chapter at every end. A story too consists of various scenes divided into segments, and then into shots. One can start with a long shot or short one depending on the criteria of the shot. It is not easy to make a serial marathon revolving around the same concept, same story, and same phenomenon. However he achieved this with his serial CID. Apart from being the longest running TV series in India, On October 8, 2004, a special episode, “The Inheritance” / C.I.D. 111, marked the completion of seven years of CID in December. It was shot in a single continuous shot for 111 minutes (one hour and 51 minutes), which landed the show in the Limca Book of Records as ‘TV show – longest continual shot’.

Amidst the understanding of what a story consists of, how does one know what is a good scene or bad scene? Throwing light on the whole debate he claimed “A good scene needs a good script, good dialogues, good lighting and then so on”. Giving an example of Vicky Donor, the latest Bollywood movie that moved the audience with its script, for him this one was a win-win when it came to good script and good movie. It managed to talk about a very different issue so skilfully. For this fiction – director some of the best scenes comes to an individual when he has experienced an analogous situation in his life.

Exposing oneself to good writing becomes of a paramount value to write a good script, because a good script will always be good even if the direction is not. When a student asked about how diverse emotions can be packed together in one scene, Mr. Singh enlightened them with his theory.

When you get script in hand you need to think of the emotions that will come in the scene. Special lighting, camera, trolley are just the means to enhance the scene. The whole scene cannot be shot at one time, you need to cut and decide how to combine the scenes and which ones to enhance.

No two directors can direct the scene similarly. Their thinking is different, their inspiration is different. What inspires one may not inspire the other. The same shot can be taken by two people in two different ways.

At the end what matters is ‘What the director does to transfer the scene on the frame’. Chop chop chop….

METHODS AND STYLES OF FILM DIRECTION

Film-making is the process or medium of storytelling in the form of visual images supported by sounds (dialogues and music). It is totally teamwork where experts from various techniques come together as a team to make a story narrative. The captain of this ship is the DIRECTOR.

A director like his own personality or individuality has his own way of bringing forth his narrative on screen which can be understood by the fact that no two people can make exactly the same film with the same story! Period. It is because every director has his own way of imagination and creativity to mold the story in a chain of scenes to make a continuous visual narrative. Each Director has his own way of bringing forth the film.

There are many different starting points for telling a story visually. One can start with an idea, a causality (otherwise known as the plot), a character, or even with a location and its properties. Hence there are directors who put more effort on the storyline, on the musicality of the storytelling process (ie, editing, with its inherent rhythm) or on the striking audio-visual imagery. There are many directors who pitch primarily on their actors’ name and capabilities. Their films depend on the start cast. And there are a few directors who see cinema as an organic art where each of these individual elements fit into an effective design to complement one another. In the end, there are almost as many theories guiding a film production as the number of directors.

STYLES
Apart from the methodical perspective, a director also has a unique way of being known as a director, on basis of his films and his Style. A director well known for his work or greatly appreciated by the masses has a signature style of his narrative which tells a lot about him and his vision. For example, Alfred Hitchcock in known for his thrillers and suspense movies, Steven Spielberg for his war and Science Fiction films, Wolfgang Peterson for his action flicks, Francis Ford Copolla for his Drama , Martin Scorsese for his concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime, and violence, Woody Allen for his drama and slapstick comedy.

In India we had V.Shantaram for his social concepts, Shakti Samanta for his romantic films, Raj Kapoor for his intense love stories, Manmohan Desai for his Family reunion cum action, Ramesh Sippy for his intense relationship conflict cum action, Yash Chopra for his films portraying great personal conflict and romantic in recent times, Subhash Ghai for his action and musical, Sanjay Leela Bhansali for his dark (controversial) intense love stories and Ram Gopal Varma for his Mafia genre, Mahesh Bhatt for his romantic and Prakash Jha for his social concepts.

When one chooses to be a film maker he needs to have a clear vision of what he intends to do as it’s a great responsibility towards the society and the audience which will be reacting to it. There has to be a social messaging, a connectivity and entertainment at the same time. It is an experience we undergo while watching a film and it might impact in the long run. This art is much more beyond than business, money, fame and recognition which are all secondary.

The primary OBJECTIVE is contention, satisfaction in the ability to bring the thought in the form of a full length running narrative. If this is followed the ethics will remain intact. Else we all would flow blindfolded in the heavy current of business and money making habit and destroy the essence of the feel and the spirit of this pure and the most touching art of storytelling.

METHODS & STYLES OF EDITING Part-2

The process of editing film digitally is constantly evolving, but the basic concept remains the same-you start and end on film, with only the creative part of the editing process changing. Following is a simplified work flow outlining the basic process.

Although this work flow appears more complicated than the traditional editing method, many of the steps can be automated. For most filmmakers, the benefits of being able to edit digitally easily offset any added procedures.
Several parts of this process are the same as for the traditional method-as mentioned earlier, it is only the middle part of the film editing process that is affected by editing digitally.

Stage 1: Shooting the Film and Recording the Sound
Audio is always recorded separately from the film, on a separate sound recorder. This is known as shooting dual system sound. While shooting the film, you need to include a way to synchronize the sound to the picture. The most common method is to use a clapper board (also called a slate or sticks) at the beginning of each take. There are a number of other methods you can use, but the general idea is to have a single cue that is both audible and visible (you can see what caused the noise).

Stage 2: Developing the Film
The developed film is known as the original camera negative. This negative will eventually be used to create the final movie and must be handled with extreme care to avoid scratching or contaminating it. The negative is used to create a video transfer (and typically a work print, as with the traditional method) and then put aside until the negative is conformed.

Stage 3: Transferring the Film to Video
The first step in converting the film to a format suitable for use by Final Cut Pro is to transfer it to video, usually using a telecine. Telecines are devices that scan each film frame onto a charge-coupled device (CCD) to convert the film frames to video frames. Although the video that the telecine outputs is typically not used for anything besides determining edit points, it’s a good idea to make the transfer quality as high as possible. If you decide against making work prints, this may be your only chance to determine if there are undesirable elements (such as microphone booms and shadows) in each take before committing to them. The video output should have the film’s key number, the video time code, and the production audio time code burned to each frame.

The actual videotape format used for the transfer is not all that important, as long as it uses reliable time code and you will later be able to capture the video and audio digitally on the computer prior to editing. An exception is if you intend to use the video transfer to also create an edited video version of the project, perhaps for a video trailer. This requires two tapes to be made at the transfer-one that is high quality and without window burn, and another that has window burn.

It is strongly recommended that the audio be synced to the video and recorded onto the tape along with the video during the telecine process. There are also methods you can use to sync the audio after the telecine process is complete-the important thing is to be able to simultaneously capture both the video and its synchronized audio with Final Cut Pro.

Stage 4: Creating a Cinema Tools Database
The key to using Cinema Tools is its database. The database is similar to the traditional code book used by filmmakers. It contains information about all elements involved in a project, including film key numbers, video and audio time code, and the actual clip files used by Final Cut Pro. Depending on your situation, the database may contain a record for each take used in the edit or may contain single records for each film roll. The film-to-video transfer process provides a log file that Cinema Tools can import as the basis of its database. It is this database that Cinema Tools uses to match your Final Cut Pro edits back to the film’s key numbers while generating the cut list.

There is no requirement that the database be created before the video and audio are captured, or even before they are edited. The only real requirement is that it must be created before a cut list can be exported. The advantage of creating the database before capturing the video and audio is that you can then use it to create batch capture lists, allowing Final Cut Pro to capture the clips. The database can also be updated and modified as you edit.

Stage 5: Capturing the Video and Audio
The video created during the telecine process must be captured as a digital file that can be edited with Final Cut Pro. The way you do this depends on the tape format used for the telecine transfer and the capabilities of your computer. You need to use a third-party capture card to capture files from a Betacam SP or Digital Betacam tape machine. If you are using a DVCAM source, you can import directly via Fire Wire. To take advantage of the batch capture capability of Final Cut Pro, you should use a frame-accurate, device-controllable source.

As opposed to the captured video, which is never actually used in the final movie, the edited audio can be used. You may decide to capture the audio at a high quality and export the edited audio as an Open Media Framework (OMF) file that can be imported at a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for finishing. Another approach is to capture the audio at a low quality and, when finished editing, export an audio EDL that can be used by an audio post-production facility, where the production audio can be captured and processed at a very high quality.

Stage 6: Processing the Video and Audio Clips
Depending on how you are using Cinema Tools, the captured clips can be linked to the Cinema Tools database. They can also be processed, using the Cinema Tools Reverse Telecine and Conform features, to ensure compatibility with the Final Cut Pro editing timebase. For example, the Cinema Tools Reverse Telecine feature allows you to remove the extra frames added when transferring film to NTSC video using the 3:2 pull-down process.

Stage 7: Editing the Video and Audio
You can now edit the project using Final Cut Pro. For the most part, you edit your film project the same as any video project. If you captured the audio separately from the video, you can synchronize the video and audio in Final Cut Pro.
Any effects you use, such as dissolves, wipes, speed changes, or titles, are not used directly by the film. These must be created on film at a facility specializing in film optical.

It can be helpful for the negative cutter if you output a videotape of the final project edit. Although the cut list provides all the information required to match the film to the video edit, it helps to visually see the cuts.

Stage 8: Exporting the Film Lists

After you’ve finished editing, you export a film list that can contain a variety of film-related lists, including the cut list, which the negative cutter uses to match the original camera negative to the edited video. Additional lists can also be generated, such as a duplicate list, which indicates when any source material is used more than once.

Stage 9: Creating a Test Cut on a Workprint
Before the original camera negative is conformed, it is strongly suggested that you conform a work print to the cut list to make sure the cut list is accurate (some negative cutters insist on having a conformed work print to work from). There are a number of things that can cause inaccuracies in a cut list:

Damaged or misread key numbers entered during the telecine transfer process

Incorrect time code values

Time code errors introduced during the capture process

With NTSC video, 3:2 pull-down problems

In addition to verifying the cut list, other issues, such as the pacing of a scene, are often hard to get a feel for until you see the film projected on a large screen. This also gives you a chance to ensure that the selected shots do not have unexpected problems.
If your production process involves work print screenings and modifications, you can also export a change list that describes what needs to be done to a work print to make it match a new version of the sequence edited in Final Cut Pro.

Stage 10: Conforming the Negative
The negative cutter uses the cut list, the edited work print, and the edited video (if available) as a guide to make edits to the original camera negative. Because there is only one negative, it is crucial that no mistakes are made at this point. As opposed to the cutting and splicing methods used when working with the work print, the cutting and splicing methods used for conforming the negative destroy frames on each end of the edit. This makes extending an edit virtually impossible and is one of the reasons you must be absolutely sure of your edit points before beginning the conform process.

Stage 11: Finishing the Audio
You usually rough-cut the audio while editing the video (stage 7); the audio is typically finished while the film is being conformed. As mentioned in stage 5, you can use an exported OMF version of the Final Cut Pro edited audio or export an audio EDL and recapture the production audio (using the original sound rolls) at a DAW. Finishing the audio is where you perform the final sound mix, including cleaning up dialogue issues and adding sound effects, backgrounds, and music.

Stage 12: Creating the Answer and Release Prints
After the original camera negative has been conformed and the audio finalized, you can have an answer print created. This print is used for the final color timing, where the color balance and exposure for each shot are adjusted to ensure the shots all work well together. You may need to create several answer prints before you are happy with the results. Once you are satisfied with the answer print, the final release print is made.

METHODS & STYLES OF EDITING Part 1

Film editing is part of the creative post-production (after shooting) process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture which is an art of visual storytelling. Film editing is the only art that is unique to cinema, separating film-making from other art forms that preceded it (such as  photography, theater, dance, writing, and directing), although there are close parallels to the editing process in other art forms like poetry or novel writing. Film editing is often referred to as the “invisible art because when it is well-practiced, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not even aware of the editor’s work which gives importance to awards for recognition.

HISTORY
Edwin S. Porter is generally thought to be the American filmmaker who first put film editing to use. Porter worked as an electrician before joining the film laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison in the late 1890s. Early films by Thomas Edison (whose company invented a motion camera and projector) and others were short films that were one long, static, locked-down shot. Motion in the shot was all that was necessary to amuse an audience, so the first films simply showed activity such as traffic moving on a city street. There was no story and no editing. Each film ran as long as there was film in the camera. When Edison’s motion picture studio wanted to increase the length of the short films, Edison came to Porter. Porter made the breakthrough film Life of an American Fireman in 1903. The film was among the first that had a plot, action, and even a close up of a hand pulling a fire alarm.
Other films were to follow. Porter’s ground-breaking film, The Great Train Robbery is still shown in film schools today as an example of early editing form. It was produced in 1903 and was one of the first examples of dynamic, action editing – piecing together scenes shot at different times and places and for emotional impact unavailable in a static long shot. Being one of the first film hyphenates (film director, editor and engineer) Porter also invented and utilized some of the very first (albeit primitive) special effects such as double exposures, miniatures and split-screens.

STYLE
Continuity editing is the predominant style of film editing and video editing in the post-production process of film-making of narrative films and television programs. The purpose of continuity editing is to smooth over the inherent discontinuity of the editing process and to establish a logical coherence between shots .In most films, logical coherence is achieved by cutting to continuity, which emphasizes smooth transition of time and space. Technically, continuity is the responsibility of the script supervisor and film director, who are together responsible for preserving continuity and preventing errors from take to take and shot to shot. The script supervisor, who sits next to the director during shooting, keeps the physical continuity of the edit in mind as shots are set up. He is the editor’s watchman. If shots are taken out of sequence, as is often the case, he will be alert to make sure that that beer glass is in the appropriate state. The editor utilizes the script supervisor’s notes during post-production to log and keep track of the vast amounts of footage and takes ,that a director might shoot..

METHODS
There are several different ways to edit video and each method has its pros and cons. Although most editors opt for digital non-linear editing for most projects, it makes sense to have an understanding of how each method works.

This page provides a very brief overview of each method — we will cover them in more detail in other tutorials.

Film Splicing
Technically this isn’t video editing, it is film editing. But it is worth a mention as it was the first way to edit moving pictures and conceptually it forms the basis of all video editing.
Traditionally, film is edited by cutting sections of the film and rearranging or discarding them. The process is very straightforward and mechanical. In theory a film could be edited with a pair of scissors and some splicing tape, although in reality a splicing machine is the only practical solution. A splicing machine allows film footage to be lined up and held in place while it is cut or spliced together.

Tape to Tape (Linear)
Linear editing was the original method of editing electronic video tapes, before editing computers became available in the 1990s. Although it is no longer the preferred option for most serious work, it still has a place and remains the better option in some cases. It is likely that linear editing will be a useful skill for a long time to come.

In linear editing, video is selectively copied from one tape to another. It requires at least two video machines connected together — one acts as the source and the other is the recorder. The basic procedure is quite simple:

1.Place the video to be edited in the source machine and a blank tape in the recorder.
2.Press play on the source machine and record on the recorder.

The idea is to record only those parts of the source tape you want to keep. In this way desired footage is copied in the correct order from the original tape to a new tape. The new tape becomes the edited version.
This method of editing is called “linear” because it must be done in a linear fashion; that is, starting with the first shot and working through to the last shot. If the editor changes their mind or notices a mistake, it is almost impossible to go back and re-edit an earlier part of the video. However, with a little practice, linear editing is relatively simple and trouble-free.

Digital/Computer (Non-linear)
In this method, video footage is recorded (captured) onto a computer hard drive and then edited using specialized software. Once the editing is complete, the finished product is recorded back to tape or optical disk.

Non-linear editing has many significant advantages over linear editing. Most notably, it is a very flexible method which allows you to make changes to any part of the video at any time. This is why it’s called “non-linear” — because you don’t have to edit in a linear fashion.
One of the most difficult aspects of non-linear digital video is the array of hardware and software options available. There are also several common video standards which are incompatible with each other, and setting up a robust editing system can be a challenge.
The effort is worth it. Although non-linear editing is more difficult to learn than linear, once you have mastered the basics you will be able to do much more, much faster.

Live Editing
In some situations multiple cameras and other video sources are routed through a central mixing console and edited in real time. Live television coverage is an example of live editing.
Live editing is a fairly specialist topic and won’t concern most people.

A Guest Lecture by – HOLLYWOOD ACTOR & PRODUCER MR. TOM MALLOY

Actor, Writer & Producer MR.TOM MALLOY is known for wearing many hats for his movies The Alphabet Killer(2008), The Attic (2008), Love N’ Dancing (2008). For this critically acclaimed actor, his passions do not end just here. His skills include Dancing, Martial Arts & Boxing, Singing, Street Magic & Juggling.

Known for his motivational speaking skills for students of all ages, he shared his experience as an Actor and Producer with the students at Digital Academy- The Film School.

Commencing with a short visual introduction of his movies ‘Love N Dancing’ followed by ‘The Alphabet Killer’ and ‘The Attic’ he spoke about his experience while filming the famous horror sequence in the movie. Even today sometimes he goes back and watches the scenes from the movie to learn and understand the details.

He then brought to light how Filmmaking is different in various cultures. Every country has it’s own aspect that can be captured in the movie. For him Slumdog Millionaire broke the trend of stylized Cinema and even ‘Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon’ for that matter. Slumdog Millionaire being a dramatic movie enveloped the assence of a thriller, a movie made from the prespective of the audience, what they would have liked to watch and yes they loved watching it.

Talking about his career from Acting to Production, and onto Writing – three different roles in Filmmaking was not an easy job. To give a better understanding of how Actors and Producers manage their roles, he stated “Filmmaking is like driving a car. You learn something about it everyday, on the journey”. When it comes to dialogues he mentions emotions being the key.

When it comes to globalized films, in the end a story is a atory. There is a lot of history in films which ever country you come from. John Cassevetes being the pioneer of American independent film gave new meaning to cinema and Film Making.

Moving onto important aspects in Filmmaking, he claimmed 5 rules to live by:

1. Killer script – Make a script which wakes up the audience. Best part of a good film with a good script is that you feel you are on a journey with the movie, you feel being a part of it. In his past ‘Star Wars’ was one such movie that made him feel like that. Writing a mind boggling script comes from reading good scripts. Try and make them your models. If a movie blows you away read its script rather than only watching the movie.

2. Pitch- Pitch of the movie… Pitch to yourself! Pitch your movie in a way that it cannot be rejected. Even if it means pitching it to your Actors, Producers. If you cannot sell it to them you cannot sell it to the audience. Have a strong Pitch of yourself. Which means knowing what you want to do and how to would want to do it. Especially for a Filmmaker, as he needs to be very confident about himself and his work.

3. BRBD- ‘Be realistic but dream’. As a Filmmaker you may have certain dreams to achieve, but yes they have to be realistic. Realistic in terms of it’s happening, financing, possibility and deadlines. It is very important to complete what you have started. When you start something finish it because if you do not you will never learn how to. You may have a mind set to achieve your goals and reach them one day. Let that one day be everyday.

4. Film financing- Film financing is like catching the wave of the economy. You set the budget and you are out there to reach it. The figures you might set may change your lifestyle. For producers it may seem merely like a business plan, however reality is what is needed.

5. A plan overall- Everything needs to be planned. Chalk out your plan. A fantastic actor will always say to himself ” I am awesome and it will happen”, to make things happen, and he eventually does. You can control that inner voice in you and programme it to be the best Director, Producer. Giving a classic example of Charlie Chaplin in the days when he lived hand-to-mouth. he still believed he was the best actor and thus it happened to him finally.

Ending on a lighter note, Malloy cited the biggest challenge one faces in Film Making is the word ‘But’. To be successful you need to change the word ‘But’ to ‘And’, and Filmmaking is your world!

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