JUNE 2001- Contents

Kalash of Chitral Valley

Endangered medicinal herbs

Manchester getting ready
for 2002 Commonwealth Games

Ayurveda's remedies for the heart

Digital Cinema - the advent in India

Tunday Kababi of Lucknow

Visual Arts
City of Djinns- Photo Album

The General's Haveli in Delhi

Travel & Adventure
Hidden Falls of Tibet


Editor's Note


the craft shop

the print gallery



the-south-asian.com                               June 2001

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Digital Cinema 



Mukesh Khosla

When Shekhar Kapoor recently inaugurated a festival of films made on the digital format, he took the first step towards re-defining the future of entertainment. Thanks to the amazing new technology, full-length movies can now be made for RS. 100,000 ($ 3000) or less - eliminating the role of the all-powerful financiers….

shekhar_and_suchitra.JPG (30194 bytes)
Shekhar Kapoor with wife Suchitra - ushering in digital cinema in India

"As film-making gets liberated from the tyranny of financiers creativity is bound to surface..." - Shekhar Kapoor

" I think this is the ultimate liberation of film making. I think films will come out of ordinary people’s computers and laptops now. I can’t wait. I think it is a brilliant time to be making films," - Hollywood director Mike Figgis


Money and films have had a troubled relationship ever since the advent of popular cinema. Many creative ideas have been thwarted by lack of financial backing . And without big money, there has seldom been a big hit.

But, today,  film-making is becoming almost as cheap as still photography. An amazing new technique is threatening to change the way movies will be made in the future. All one needs is a digital camera--which can come for as little as $ 300-- a computer, and a great script - and you could be in the business of films.

In fact, feature film-making has never been more accessible and affordable. The new digital technology is allowing full-length movies to be made for as little as100,000 rupees or less. Which is why the technology is empowering new and independent movie makers who no longer have to make futile attempts to find finance.

Digital video budgets are so small that almost anyone with a little money can take a creative risk and make a film.  In the years to come this technology will shift power from financiers to film-makers who no longer need their money, permission or approval to experiment with their ideas.

 Digital Talkies, a company promoted by Shekhar Kapoor and a few other professionals, held India's first festival of films made on the digital format, in March this year. Inaugurated by Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj, the festival, according to Kapoor, re-defined the future of entertainment.

Relevance For India

" This technology has great relevance for India as it will allow movies to be made for as little as a few thousands of rupees. Feature film-making has never been more accessible and affordable as the digital camera costs only $300. The rest is your imagination," said Kapoor.

The Oscar-nominated film-maker is planning to convert his forthcoming Foundation, a 20th Century Fox production into digital format. He explains that the technique is gradually gaining a strong foothold in Hollywood with many film experts predicting the demise of the celluloid format in the years to come.

" It would be far too expensive to make films on celluloid as compared to digital technology," says a computer geek and adds that financiers and studios are already getting jittery, especially in Hollywood where the digital format is getting increasingly popular.

Another great advantage of digitalisation is that no expensive editing suites are required once the film has been shot. All one has to do is to run the film on the computer and edit it on-line. At the flick of a mouse the 'producer' can change the backgrounds or locales to suit the script and the moods of the actors.

" The future of film-making is digital technology. In five years time I won't be surprised to see a 10-year-old boy, a school teacher or even a truck driver making a film. They'll make mistakes initially but the technology is self-teaching and people will learn the craft step by step. That's when real talent will emerge. As film-making gets liberated from the tyranny of financiers creativity is bound to surface," says Kapoor.

But since a computer is limited to only a few, won't digital technology become confined to just an elitist group? No, says Kapoor. Computers are getting increasingly popular and are entering all aspects of life. It won't be long before more and more people have access to them. This technology just cannot remain in the hands of the privileged few."

Kapoor's words rang true as the festival received over 200 entries of which 45 were ultimately selected for screening. These films were from India, USA, New Zealand and England. They ranged in length from two minutes to two hours. The Indian entries included films like The Shawl by Muzaffar Ali, 939288 by Vishwajyoti Ghosh and matrimonials.com by Krishna. The jury had names like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Shyam Benegal and R.K.Laxman who judged the films.

" I think this is the ultimate liberation of film making. I think films will come out of ordinary people’s computers and laptops now. I can’t wait. I think it is brilliant time to be making films," said celebrated Hollywood director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Timecode 2000) on the relevance of digital technology in film-making.

So, is this the beginning of the end of films on celluloid format? Yes, say computer experts. In just a few years time every movie will be made on the digital format. It is not just so much cheaper, but its clarity, range and versatility are no match for conventional technology. Soon the celluloid dreams of film-makers and stars would change to digital dreams!




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