Karamjeet Singh

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Here's a man very close to the roots of the whole idea of The IDEA. Someone whose shoulder one gawked over so often to watch him wield his magic in the days (seems just like yesterday) when computers in India were those exotic and expensive beasts that could do so very little beyond simple word-processing for most average folks.

Didn't take us very long after that to get the idea of getting a computer for ourselves, and didn't take Karamjeet very long either to upgrade to a machine that would allow him to take over titling (to begin with) in all of the film-making that's his real profession.

Over the years, he's gained an enviable reputation with 3D/2D video-graphics, finalizing big-print work and video-postproduction, but still retains these talents almost exclusively for his own films, so as to keep that as his steady main focus. The video running alongside is therefore made up of clips constructed when familiarizing himself with his latest computer, while the images date from almost a decade ago, and here's a stream of thought by him on the whole technology phenomena he's been participating in.

"In 1987 I got my first computer, a PC XT with no hard drive and 1MB memory if I remember right. You used a floppy to load DOS and then loaded programs as required. The only graphics possible were by using BASIC to write a simple routine, and presto! You could make a crude ball bounce across the screen. It was tremendously exciting. As a filmmaker the potentials had me hooked. I graduated to better computers and soon started actively exploring digital graphics and video. I got myself a pro quality Targa video output card and a Diaquest frame controller to give me RS 422 control of professional video recorders. For some years I had a great time experimenting with graphics, morphs, titles etc for my productions though now in retrospect the procedure seems cumbersome. You spent a day rendering an 8 second animation and then another day outputting to video, a single frame at a time. Now I have a processor running at 1.5 Ghz, 256 mb of RAM, 80 gig of hard disk space and most renders are almost real time, it seems as if we've moved from the wheel to the motor car, all in just 15 years. And computers have moved from being a kink to the mainstream of my work. It's been an exciting 15 years and I can't even begin to speculate where the next 15 will take us. Computers have really changed the very language of filmmaking. When I started we worked on celluloid, 16mm or 35mm. It was very hands on and very tactileyou actually handled the film from morning to night while editing, made markings on it, cut it up into strips and assembled it using scotch tape splicers. Transitions like dissolves or wipes were used sparingly and with much consideration mainly because they were cumbersome to execute. You had to run around labs getting inter-positives and inter-negatives made and you mostly saw the transition only when the final married (with soundtrack) print was made. Then came video, and as an editing technology it was a dream and a nightmare. A dream because suddenly there was access to instant real time transitions or superimpositions, for example you didn't have to go to a specialized optical house for titles. And a nightmare because whatever you edit on video is like hewn on stone. Editing on tape means there is no possibility for later corrections or changes, unless you sacrificed picture quality by moving down a generation. Now, computer based non-linear edit systems have bridged the gap giving me film style control over the edit. I can move or delete or add any clip, of any duration, at any point in the timeline. As well as do titling, multi layer compositing, motion control or any number of special effects available, all not just under one roof, but on one screen. You can even do your scripting on the same machine. Now because so much is available, literally at a keystroke, in real time, like I said, it's changed the lexicon itself. Not always for the better. You see a lot of films now where everybody has become sloppy from the Director to the Editor. If two scenes wouldn't cut together, why then, lets put a dissolve! But on the whole it's a great time to be a filmmaker, out on the cutting edge of the new technology, with more tools to choose from than any other time in films 100 year history."

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Karamjeet Singh
F-22 Press Enclave
New Delhi ­ 110 017 (India)

Tel: (91-11) 696 8229