Sunday, December 03, 2006

'What The Eye Sees': A Cinematographer's Account of Frozen

I admit my bias, but Shanker Raman is one of the best cinematographers to come out of the FTII. Many years ago, while we were shooting our diploma film, a young friend asked him how to shoot some particularly difficult thing. Shanker said, very simply, "Just remember, if your eyes can see it, it can be shot."

Shanker's been shooting in Ladakh for the last year. Here is his account of shooting for the feature film, Frozen. (no links available yet.)

The first character to be cast was the location. Ladakh is a high-altitude desert, known for its stark, barren landscape that is at its extreme during winter. For the most part of their routine, our characters are cut off, almost quarantined from the pervasive influence of modernization. We were convinced after the first recce that Ladakh had the ideal landscape to depict this physical isolation.

While examining the first set of images shot in October and November 2005, we felt, in order to do justice to the title Frozen it was necessary to find the appropriate visual palette. We debated over many colour tones and colour reduction theories, recorded many images on a Nikon D100
digital SLR 6 megapixel camera, to explore the options for manipulation. Eventually, on looking at some lovely black and white pictures from the book ‘Ladakh’ shot by the photographer Prabir C Purkayastha, we began to seriously consider black and white as an option.

The landscape of Ladakh at that time of the year is predominantly barren, stark, in tones of red and brown that appear saturated against a deep blue sky. Even though it was at times minus 15 Celsius outside in the middle of the day, when photographed in colour it appeared like it was summer. The film is set in extreme winter, and the drama played out by our characters is totally devoid of any warmth, reassurance or cheer. Black and white images seemed to illustrate this iciness authentically.
The texture and tonality of black and white, we felt, would make the images associative without the burden of having to create unnecessary elaborate detail. Black and white helped us in visualizing with economy.
The rest of his article here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice Shankar story. Can just imagine his grin when he said it.