As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant!” Things keep changing, or better put – evolving with the times. The technical aspect of cinema has been changing very rapidly with time. The whole concept of cinema has evolved from the silent movies to talkies, black & white to Technicolor to colour. Then came the advancements in sound… Having started with mono, we moved on to stereo and are now entranced by digital audio. The digital era of sound began with Dolby Digital, and it was then challenged by the DTS technology. The visual medium saw advancement from recording on films to digital recording. The cameras that were being used a few years back, have now become obsolete and the current cameras use so much advanced technology.
The initial movies were shot completely within the confines of studios, as hauling all the hardware around and filming in the outdoors was practically not possible. However, the advances in technology helped move the shooting to the outdoors and cinema has moved on to a totally new plane altogether. Nowadays, we have cameras that can even shoot underwater, capture high speed movement and do so much more. The sound technology used in movies have also become so advanced that we now have a third dimension to sound too.
The Flower of Persia, directed by Hiralan Sen in 1898, became the first Indian short film. The first Indian movie released in India was the Marathi movie Shree Pundalik, but it’s claim is under scrutiny as the movie was just a photographic recording of a play. Besides, the photographer was an Englishman and the film used for recording was developed in London. The first recognized Indian movie was Dadasaheb Phalke’s 1913 movie Raja Harishchandra. This movie had men playing the roles of the women characters, as women were not even a part of cinema then. Now, we have so many women playing major roles not only on screen, but off screen and behind the scenes too.
One of the biggest developments in cinema was the advent of 3D movies. 3D cinema became a joy to watch and who can forget our country’s first 3D movie – My Dear Kuttichathan. Released in 1984, the Malayalam movie was a delight which was enjoyed thoroughly by children and adults alike. The movie was dubbed into many languages and it became an instant hit across all languages. Even before 3D made it’s appearance, trick shots were used to showcase many visual splendours like dual roles, magnified views, miniature displays and other things. Though the first 3D movie released in as early as 1984, the widespread use and adaptation of this technology did not take full effect till the last decade, when many movies have been released in 3D. Similarly, the use of computer graphics and visual effects (VFX), have made the whole viewing experience of a movie, surreal at times.
Audiences from the south will surely remember the spectacular graphics and visual effects that Vittalachariyar used in his movies, that revolved a lot around supernatural premises and needed lots of effects to make the viewers believe in all the amazing things happening on screen. Now, with the discovery of newer technologies, the cinegoer is getting more value for his money with the whole concept of movies becoming way better than what it started out to be. Cinema in itself, began as a means of entertainment but has now become a very serious business. There needs to be something better continually happening to impress and bring in the audiences. The movie makers of today have begun understanding this and are doing all it takes to bring out the best for their viewers. Talk about maximizing the use of all the latest in technology and you can find that happening in today’s cinema, in our country. Previously, we used to take quite some time to adapt to the technologies of the west, but are now being a lot quicker about it. We are showing that we can adapt easily and use the latest in both video and audio for the best results.
Ambuli 3D became the first 3D Stereoscopic movie in Tamil Cinema. The thriller Achamundu Achamundu kickstarted the trend of our cinematographers using the Red One camera, and this advanced camera was also used for Kamal Haasan and Mohanlal’s Unnaipol Oruvan, as well as Vishwaroopam. The more advanced Red Epic was used for Ajith’s Billa 2. Vijay’s Thuppakki, directed by AR Murugadoss, used the ARRI camera that was very recently introduced and had been used for only a handful of Hollywood movies too.
Padma Bhushan Kamal Haasan can be credited with bringing a lot of advanced technology to Tamil cinema. He is a very vocal advocate of making use of the latest technology to enhance cinema. The legendary actor brought in the Dolby sound system to Kollywood through his movie Kuruthipunal. He followed up on it by bringing Online Editing through his highly talked about Virumandi. Kamal then introduced Live Recording through the movie Mumbai Express. As recently as last year, Kamal brought in the much talked about Auro 3D audio through his Vishwaroopam. Many others too have brought about some wonderful advancements to our cinema through their movies and now it is time for our Superstar Rajinikanth to do his part.
Our Thalaivar’s upcoming Kochadaiiyaan is special for a number of reasons – the most obvious being that it is a Rajinikanth movie. Another big reason for the movie being special is that it will be bringing in the advanced Performance Capture technology to Indian and our own beloved Tamil Cinema. Motion Capture technology was first used for bringing out realistic on screen visuals in video games. This has been in use since as early as 1995. An improvement on this technology is the performance capture, also known as high fidelity facial motion capture. Some of Hollywood’s most famous movies made using this technology are The Lord of The Rings, King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar and the most recent, fully animated The adventures of Tintin.
Following in the footsteps of these movies is Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin’s maiden directorial venture – Kochadaiiyaan. With an ensemble star cast including Superstar Rajinikanth, Deepika Padukone, Sarathkumar, Aadhi, Shobana, Nassar, Jackie Shroff and Rukmini Vijayakumar among others. This movie, though it has been long in the making, is currently the talk of the town. The movie’s teasers and trailers have left the audiences in awe and wanting more. To add to all the excitement, Oscar winner AR Rahman’s music is also adding to the magic. Apart from the Performance Capture technology, the movie also incorporates animation and 3D. With over 1.25 billion rupees being pumped into the making of this project, the makers are looking at dubbing the movie in a number of other regional and international languages so that it reaches the global audience too. Rajiv Menon has handled the cinematography, bringing in all his experience and knowledge of the latest technology. Judging by the way the movie is creating buzz, Kochadaiiyaan is sure to take Kollywood’s name and fame a notch higher than where it already is.
Our filmmakers are showing that they are not averse to embracing new technology, and soon we shall begin to be the pioneers of some new technology too. The way cinema is adapting to advancements, I am sure that by the time our next issue releases, there would be something new to eclipse even the current technologies are being used.