An interview with Freelance DIT – Arman Khan Achakzai


Arman Khan Achakzai has been working in the industry as a DIT for 5 years. Based in London the demand for DIT’s is high across the UK as VFX are increasingly introduced into productions. Most recently, Arman Khan Achakzai worked on South Indian Film “Murder ” as DIT

What does being a DIT involve day to day?

As a DIT I am always learning and finding new solutions for the cinematographer and DOP.

Watching and analysing what my peers are doing is an important way of learning to demystify new hardware and software used onset.

Technology changes and a new kit enables me to colour grade pictures from the beginning of filming, which is great and allows for greater efficiency.

What impact does technology have on your role?

As the technology matures my job becomes easier in some ways because I can ensure the fast processing and precision of the image from the beginning. I need to be in control of what I am doing with no room for error, because a DIT can’t make mistakes. A project can easily be jeopardised if you are not confident in the technology you are using.


The advances in kit forces me to push the limits forward in my day-to-day and do more during the filming, which was something I didn’t have time for in the past.

Onset today, I can easily live grade, offloads mags, create dailies and upload editorial files in almost the same amount of time as just completing one component previously. This is all thanks to new machines which are faster than before and efficient hardware to complete tasks.

Editing onset is the greatest technological change because you can edit almost an entire movie during the shooting, which shortens the entire time of post-production.

What is the most challenging aspect of working as a DIT?

For me it is to achieve every task that I have during the filming and do better and better from project to project.

Working to the highest ability and always implementing new knowledge, technologies and new solutions as much as I can.

Most workflows appear similar from the outside but when you’re in the process of working they’re incredibly different. It is challenging and interesting to finish the goals set by the cinematographer and DOP, but adapting to the different workflow requires flexibility and skills in multitasking.

What trends have evolved and changed the industry throughout your career?

There is always a need for faster, bigger and stronger but in a physically smaller and lighter hardware kit. The industry developments are expecting changes very quickly, those trends have evolved to the point where we have very powerful machines at our disposal.

In 2014 I had to render images over night because of the time it took to complete, often returning the next day and dissatisfied with the end result. Dissolving between two shots often took 45 minutes but the way technology has matured has really enhanced the ways we can work and what we can deliver.


Arman Khan Achakzai working

What technology and trends do you expect to change the industry in the next five years?

The wireless transmission and distribution of video signals on set will be a game changer, as it will allow bigger video resolutions and faster hardware enabling editing.

Everything across the industry is moving towards shortening processing and speeding up editing because as they say time is money. The primary points for development and improvement is the efficient movie making process while at the same time achieving powerful pictures and sound on screen.

What advice would you give to an aspiring DIT?

Progression in the field is directly linked to budgets we work with. If you’re working on big and complex projects with multiply cameras and special effects the challenges will be bigger and a DIT will be required to have greater responsibility.

My advice for an entry level DIT is to gain hands on experience and work in the field. Sometimes it is enough just to watch what somebody else is doing to learn as quickly as possible. As long as you have luck on your side and the drive for success, you will become a professional DIT.

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