VFX: Making possible, the impossible

MUMBAI: Even as India is growing into a global somebody in the field of animation, VFX is not far behind. With many Indian studios now collaborating on Hollywood movies, times are not far when Indian films will showcase better VFX than your average Hollywood movie.

At FICCI, the panel on globalisation of post-production comprised Kaleidoscope Entertainment’s Bobby Bedi, Prime Focus MD Namit Malhotra and Giant Killer Robots, Bay Area, USA’s Peter Oberdofer.

Oberdofer said, "VFX is getting and bigger with market shares now in Australia, China, India, New Zealand and Eastern Europe as well. More and more movies in Asia are now becoming VFX-centric and the VFX industry is going global. The talent pool is increasing, world over and in five years’ time, post production studios will depend on a global marketplace, powered by global talent. In 10 years’ time, it’ll be even more so. Since this industry is very creative/ artistic in nature, global talent will play a huge role in this industry."

Malhotra concurred on the VFX industry going global. His point of contention was that since India was the last to get into this technology space, the artists had the benefit of cutting-edge technology because there was a leap in terms of the evolutionary process. The only thing they lacked then was the expertise or the experience. After acquisition of post-production facilities in UK, India and Bose Logic and Frantic Films in Hollywood, Prime Focus started to use local fronts to get work. This worked well as they offered global talent with local points of contact – giving unified service to film-makers.

Malhotra says, “As part of globalisation, VFX is still big enough for everyone to have a share.” The choice at the end of the day will be, to either do only the work you want to do or be a smaller part of the global outsourcing.

The question then arose about how any Hollywood studio would be able to rely on a studio based in a culturally different nation, but according to Oberdofer, the differences are more logical than cultural. With the studio based in India and client in London, for example, the immediacy that the medium demands is lost. The time difference, different communication patterns etc affect the ability of the director to communicate with the VFX studios. He suggested a pipeline in place, which would help solve this even as the backdoors of the VFX studios lead to China and India. With virtual studios becoming the norm, video chats are the order of the day.

Prices are now dropping for VFX thanks to a more diffused marketplace, regional specialities than can be optimised across for global markets and is happening now as the markets are expanding. All studios need to ride the wave and not be crushed. Budgets are increasing, complexities are increasing and this will go beyond the exploiter and exploited.

Malhotra said, "Today Indian companies have storefronts in LA and London, which erase this problem. With local companies fronting the studios abroad and the work getting done in India offers film-makers the best of the world: world-class VFX talent and a personal touch with the local people talking to the directors. Today, with the broadband and high-speed LAN costs going down, transfer of VFX files and shots and raw material happen in seconds."

Bedi summed it up by making a few key-points. "The Indian VFX industry is no longer a back-end facility and collaborates with global fillm-makers to offer them the best of the VFX world. Quality levels remain intact because the imported talent from international houses come to India and get work done. The benefit being that the software and soft-skills get transferred and thereby helps the Indian film-makers and the VFX industry, locally. Cheapness of labour is no longer the only point why Hollywood comesto India, it’s also the skill sets of the talent here," he said.

The absence of Indain aesthetics in the VFX industry was also not a matter of concern. Bedi said, “The Indian aesthetics are already visible now in music, with AR Rahman and soon it will happen in VFX.”