Tata Elxsi’s VCL wins National Award for film



Tata Elxsi’s VCL (Visual Computing Labs) division, the Animation and Visual Effects arm today announced that they have won the 53rd National Film Award for Best Special Effects for their work in Shankar’s Aaniyaan, a Tamil movie that went on to become a mega blockbuster. Termed the Silver Lotus Award, this award was given in recognition of the superlative visual effects and animation work that Tata Elxsi has done in the film. The film revolves around the main protagonist life whose compulsive obsessive disorder to be perfect in morality, rules and honesty leads him to develop a Multiple Personality Disorder. The film stars Vikram in a lead role supported by Sadha, Prakash Raj and Naseer.

The film was simultaneously released in Tamil and Telugu (as Aparachitidu). Both versions were record breaking blockbusters. Anniyan was also later dubbed in Hindi (as Aparichit). The motion picture took over two years to complete (2003 – 2005) and was the most expensive Tamil feature film of 2005

Shankar, the director of Anniyan is a well known producer and director in South India. Most of his movies have social themes with a commercial narration. Another unique aspect of his movies is the delivery of rich, high end CGI ( Computer Generated Imagery) content.

Commenting on the award, Pankaj Khandpur, Creative Director, VCL, Tata Elxsi said, “Winning the National Award is no mean feat and we are extremely honored to have the nation’s most prestigious award bestowed upon us. Aaniyan has some interesting visual effects and animation work by Tata Elxsi VCL. About 6 minutes of SFX was delivered, executed by a Visual Effects team of 5, and an Animation team of 15, over a period of 3 months.”

Describing the work done in the movie, he said,” The single largest section was the creation of ‘hell’ as described in one of the ancient Indian texts. The Director wanted to establish a character based on the Grim Reaper, but Indianised to suit the requirements of the script and language. VCL designed the CGI character with Indian motifs; for example, his ‘transport’ was a bull, often associated with Death in the Indian scriptures. This ‘Yamraj’ character plays the ‘mascot’ who opens the doors to Hell (visualized through a web-site), and takes the viewer through the punishments that await evil-doers. The entire creation of Hell was designed and created entirely in 3D by the VCL team, to conform to specific references and ‘punishments’ described in the ancient Indian scriptures. The prime requirement was to visualize the sequence to be true to the scriptures, and yet create imagery that was aesthetic, and not gory or visually disturbing.”

‘Hell’ was visualized as a web site that the user searches for on the Internet, and logs in, with specific inputs. The entire simulation of searching and input, at various times in the script was also designed and executed by VCL; an additional requirement was the text inputs that had to be done twice, in Tamil, and in Telugu.

“Another interesting visual effects component was the ‘cosmic zoom’; the camera travels from the outer atmosphere, through clouds, and from an aerial view of Chennai, zooms through the city, past building-tops, right upto street level, and onto the number-plate of a parked vehicle. Aerial views and matte paintings of Chennai city were stitched together on the computer, and 3D city extensions were created, along with CGI clouds, to create this long, one-piece camera zoom.

Yet another visual effect and animation deliverables were the ‘camera flight’ inside a CG created human body, and the ‘shy’ and ‘bashful’ performance of the (realistic) roses when they are compared to the ‘beauty’ of the heroine,” he further added.