Aug 14 2022
Arthur.A.Wilson has studied Diploma in film making cinematography as a major at Adyar Film Institute. He worked as assistant cinematographer to P.Selvakumar D.F.Tech
Wilson has done more than 35 films as Director of Photograhy, he is known for his innovative camera work in Tamil and Telugu feature films.
His Cinematography had set a new bench mark for several films.
Recently his cinematography for a single shot non –linear film Iravin Nizhal received huge acclaim and also continues to win major awards at International Film Festivals for his cinematography.
Arthur Wilson shares his filmic journey in conversation with SICA.
En Swasa kaatre (1999) definitely one of my best works and happy to receive compliments from a legendary technician like Sivaraman Sir. Visual approach wise I didn’t use any camera filters like Enhancers, polarizers or promist which was very popular at that time. I tried to keep focused to the narrative and tried some strong compositional techniques.
Yes the movie had both romance and emotional content so I tried with soft lighting for particular portions and others Hard lighting.
Oh yes… Wilson Wheel..for a particular song sequence I wanted to create a dynamic camera moves where it had only black background as set décor…that time we are not much aware of Jimmy Jib in the Industry so myself designed a platform which can create a complex move with camera and artist together.
Above Arthur Wilson sketching his Self prepared rig Wilson Wheel
Basically I always try to read the script of the film multiple times, each time I connect with different ideas..some where I fix the mood of the film and my goal is to help my Directors achieve what they want to convey.
I train my mind watching Paintings for hours think of each and every element used by the artist ..my favorites are Edward Hooper and Rembrandt, I also watch classical films made during 1920’s to 1940’s where the art form was so pure and original.
Also listening to music definitely enhances visual sense, especially the compositions from MOZART, ENNIO MORRICONE and ILAYARAJA.
VIP …yes I wanted to create a day light like feel for a song (Ichankaadu..) Which had a indoor set décor…also I wanted images to look very soft ,like a light source from a muted sky.
So I used nearly 30-40 nos of HMI daylights which was diffused by using Acrylic sheets, I also try to use different fabrics for diffusion of light.. For that i always personally visit to wholesale fabric shops at Parrys corner chennai.
Anbe Sivam had a lot of philosophical undertones. And technically i never wanted KamalHassan spectacles to see any light source or unwanted reflections, so I used many negative fills at outdoors, I also wanted some contrast and rich blacks. I tried to give monsoonish feel to the imagery.
There was a flood sequence which happens in northern India was created at Vahuni studios Chennai, we used nearly 600 tanker lorries …where water would drain in quick time…so as a cinematographer I have to find a solution. How to fix it..then we used some plastic sheets to avoid leakage of water in the ground then filled up water to hip level in an outdoor environment.
Coming to Naan Kadavul which has similar philosophical tones in the story but my approach was quite opposite, here I tried hard lighting with sharp shadows ,warm tone in the lights, Lenses used are Master primes, composition wise I always tried to use leading lines in the frame.
Tell us your experience on Imsai Arasan 23m pulikesi
When I got script from Director Chimbu Devan I clearly understood there is winner in this film..but it had its own challenges a multiple genre humour,political and period drama.
As I was great fan of Buster Keaton films of silent era …I had the images that could replicate it..so tried to compose most of the shots with close ups then to a wide shots to get Vadivelu’s body language. I also treated the images with warm tones to give edge feel of period look and I strictly avoided color Blue.
I really enjoy film making at Telugu films…where I get different kind of experiences in narrative form focused towards entertainment, as their production budgets are high I have luxury to use multi cameras and light up vast areas with more number of lights.
When Parthiban sir narrated the idea of the film it really excited me…as I always believed to do a work out of my comfort zone, moreover I never thought it was impossible and I was very confident to do this film….but as a experienced cinematographer I know I should do more number of preparations.
During rehearsals I used to spend for each segment of the scenes nearly two hours to bring the basic idea of lighting the scene and during process it changed again and again.
Finally I decided to work with T 2.8 as main key source and T11 as back light…my exposure was rated at T 2.8
I made some interesting decisions of creating a daylight feel using more than hundreds of LED tube lights.
I am glad to share the details of the light used and also the Camera footage counter details for the authenticity.
Lights used in iravin nizhal
I k PAR LIGHT_ 256
2 FEET LED WARM_ 522
2 FEET LED WHITE_ 68
4 FEET LED WARM_ 689
4 FEET LED WHITE_ 867
EDISON 6W WARM_ 1003
EDISON 8W GOLDEN WARM_ 1609
EDISON MIXED COLORS_ 634
100W MILK WHITE_ 1762
40W CLEAR BULB_ 540
60W CLEAR BULB_ 516
STROBE LIGHT_ 25
12V SPOT LIGHT_ 317
WALL FITTING_ 45
STREET LIGHT(SODIUM)_ 54
0W BULB_ 665
STRIP LIGHT_ 83
60W MILKY_ 36
MIRCHI BULB_ 35
BIG SHADE_ 23
BIG GLASS SHADE_ 17
500W BULB_ 12
1500W BULB_ 2
300W BULB_ 45
200W BULB_ 15
OLD TUBE LIGHT_ 23
3KV DIMMER_ 16
SERIAL LIGHTS_ 73 sets
POWER PACK_ 5
DMX CONSOLE BOARD_ 1
LOOPING BOX_ 5
MAIN CABLE_ 1
PHOTOFLOOD _ 27 members
out door UNIT LIGHT
4k par_9 no’s
Skypanel S60_27 no’s
Deno 4 bunch_6
Deno 9 bunch_ 4
Deno12 bunch_ 3
120 generator_ 8
LIGHT MAN_ 32 person
Electrician _ 3+8–11 nos
CRANE & GODA
Straight track _ 6set
20ft crane -3
Round track_ 1 set
Crane & goda _ 36 persons
Wilson how do you decide color scheme in your films.
First thing after reading script of the film I decide what colors I really want to avoid then comes the choice of colors I want to represent in the images.
My formula is to use a particular color 60% in the frame then 30% of colors of the same family and to create separation use 10% of any other color.
T 5.6 Which gives me selective depth of field and my most favorite focal lengths are 24mm, 32mm and 50mm.
We worked together for Imsai Arasan and Naan Kadavul, Krishnamurthy sir is a Legend himself, he used admire my lighting…i used to spend much time with him he used to give so much details about colors and texture of fabrics.
I used his expertise as much as possible into my Images..i was really sad of his demise and it is definitely a loss to the film Industry.
Arthur Wilson Filmography
Article drafted by
Dhivakar,Karthikeyan, Vasigaran and Arjun ( BOFTA Cinematography students)
Edited and Conceived by – CJ Rajkumar Author /Cinematographer