The story of the orphaned baby elephant

~ by Kartiki Gonsalves

PUBLISH DATE: July 20, 2020

Telling the story of the close bond that develops between an orphaned baby elephant and his caregivers Kartiki Gonsalves, Sony Artisan is currently making a film- Sacred Bond using Sony gear.

Sharing her journey of documenting the life of a baby elephant, she said that the film captures the emotions of a couple who raise an orphaned baby elephant and the emotional tie of the elephant with the couple. Through this film, she has highlighted the many traits, family and social similarities shared by elephants and humans.

The film gear used on the set of Sacred Bond was the FS7II & the FS5II . Some of the lenses included the beautiful Sony G-master lenses like FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM lens , FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS , FE 70-200 mm F2.8 GM OSS lens and FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens and , FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens . Talking about the main camera that was used, the Sony PXW-FS7M2, 4K HDR handheld with a Super 35 Exmor ® sensor, she called it the “ultimate wildlife and documentary camera”. It was extremely comfortable, reliable and compact, easy to set up, and easy to operate for on the go filming. Talking about the features of this Sony camera which she liked, she said that it is designed for long hours of filming which is important. Without these aspects, the footage would have suffered greatly. It is constructed with really good balance without being too heavy. During the time of filming, there were no failures during the shoot. Our Sony gear offered her team the freedom to shoot and move with Electronic Auto Variable ND. It also gave her no reason to worry about changing light conditions or fiddling with exposure settings or changing filters. Set in the beautiful and raw landscape of the dry scrub forests in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Sacred Bond depicts the lives of a couple, Boman and Bellie, who are Kattunayakars. A forest tribe, their community inhabits the heart of the forest where the Eastern Ghats meet the Western Ghats. Originally hunter-gathers, this forest tribe has specialized in areas such as honey collection and elephant care. Once upon a time, Boman’s father was an elephant carer. After his father’s demise, Boman followed on his father’s footsteps. His new wife, Bellie, has less knowledge of the forests and a deep fear of wild animals

One day, a tiny, injured and a starving baby elephant was found in Hosur. After rescuing the tiny elephant, the officers in charge of the elephant camp in Mudumalai Tiger reserve chose Boman to be the chief caregiver for the poor orphaned elephant. Elephants crave social interactions. For the baby elephant, Raghu, interaction with known and loved caregivers was as essential as a good diet. Boman and Bellie raise Raghu as their own child.

While taking up this documentary film project, Kartiki’s goal was to make people fall in love with the one baby elephant and wonder at the similarities and bonds between elephants and humans. She wanted this film to reach to the masses, inspire them to become personally involved in conserving elephant habitat so that these magnificent animals can continue to exist alongside humans.

As audiences are drawn in by Raghu’s vulnerability and charisma, they would come to understand the urgent need to take action to help keep him and all elephants alive. The film encompasses the journey of Raghu from tragedy to triumph that would allow the audiences to discover the extraordinary inner life of an animal as complex as any person, and as iconic as India itself.

The film also looks at the Kattunayakar community, their lives in the forests shared with elephants and other wild animals. It examines the changes that they have made to live alongside the wild animals and the knowledge and joy they have gained from their lives shared with the animals. The film looks at ways in which they have adjusted to living with elephants and suggests adaptations that will allow both the elephant and the tribal community to continue to thrive.

Sacred Bond highlights the intelligence of elephants, their majestic and familial nature, and the reason why it is so important to protect the species. Elephants are way smarter than we, as human species have ever realized. They are deeply and permanently connected. They have a complex social structure and live with extended family groups for most of their lives. Elephants exhibit empathy, grief, joy, fear and vengefulness. We, as human species, are discovering that elephants must be considered alongside the great apes and cetaceans as one of the cleverest and most complex creatures on the planet. And more importantly, the extent of behavioural adaptations they display in today’s changing environment is remarkable.

Talking about how our Sony gear helped her, Kartiki shared that for the wildlife film-making process, this camera delivers a maximum of 180 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting in Full HD. She shared that if your project plays at the cinematic 24fps, you get beautiful 7.5x Super Slow Motion with no sacrifice in the bit depth. This makes speeding up or slowing down seamless. The camera is very robust and that is what she needed on her shoots. The images were very sharp and crisp with the eyecup or when using it as a mini-monitor. Being on the field, Kartiki believed that it is important to be able to access the card slots easily which makes Sony FS7 II a great camera. The camera also offered excellent noise reduction and low light sensitivity at ISO 2000 which enabled the crew to shoot well after sunset, without tons of lighting and grip.

Kartiki shared that if camera users are in the market, looking for a new camera, they would be crazy not to give the Sony FS7II some serious consideration as it is a perfect partner for fast-moving shoots in changeable environments. Kartiki certainly loved our Sony gear.

Kartiki & the film crew extends all readers heartfelt gratitude for being a part of this story. Calling out to everyone, she ends on a positive note- “Let's make some waves of change together”.

Kartiki Gonsalves

About Kartiki Gonsalves

Kartiki Gonsalves is an Indian Natural History, social documentary photojournalist and filmmaker currently based out of Bangalore and the Nilgiris in Southern India. Her work has two foci. One is environment, nature and wildlife, where she seeks t... Read more

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