AVGC industry has been hitting an inflection point with the rapid progress tracked over a short space of time in the last number of years. Making my way to the premises of Hotel the Lalit Ashok at Bengaluru, I wondered what that summit really entails. From what I was reliably told, GAFX 2019 is pegged as the leading conference that cuts across every note of AVGC scale and I was there to behold that symphony.
Touring the 3-day AVGC utopia
This year, the organisers had markedly ameliorated the process, making it easier to manoeuvre through the exhibitions, contests and sessions with a phone application. Threading through the main entrance, I was thrilled by the pleasant reception. Volunteers in pink were evenly spread over the ground perimeters to help out the attendees get to their desired sessions or contests.
Refreshing monsoon winds swept over the green grounds where a posing model stood enwreathed by the budding artists sketching and sculpting on their canvases while a smattering of exhibition stalls buzzed with a cacophony of enthusiasts learning about new technology.
Experts under one umbrella
Tripling up as GAFX, the gaming, animation and VFX summit allowed me to witness an eclectic set of speakers from diverse backgrounds ranging from production houses to visual effects companies and top animation studios from all over the world. Top visual effects artists from prominent studios like Firefly Studio, redchillies.vfx, MPC and Double Negative that I had only heard about just ordinarily walking across the street to get to their sessions was a striking spectacle. I kid you not! There were all there. Students flocking VFX veteran Pete Draper made me fathom the enormity of the VFX scene in India.
Well-curated and insightful sessions
Veterans like Sanath PC and Pete Draper (known for their VFX genius in movies like Bahubali and Magadheera) outlined the significance of visual effects in movies. It was gratifying to see them explaining to the attendees just how they managed to breathe life into the writer’s imagination. Walt Disney’s simulation supervisor Avneet Kaur dived fantastically into the dynamics of how the Disney team brought together all the Disney princesses into the CG world of Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Students watched their idols with a glimmer of reverence in their eyes as they even got the rare opportunity to speak to them in person. While (Oscar-winning VFX studio) Double Negative VFX supervisor Jaykar Arudra discussed how they created one of the most challenging and iconic images in the movie Venom, redchillies.vfx VFX supervisor Ronak Sanghadia conducted a session where he shared the intricacies of how they shrank Shah Rukh Khan in the movie Zero.
Pitching stories and stitching co-production deals
Branscome International head Catherine Branscome and Salt Content CEO Angela Salt shed light on the process of how intellectual properties are developed. Salt also advised budding storytellers and writers on how they can grapple with shyness and pitch their concepts in effective ways.
Technicolor Animation and Games VP creative Owen Hurley kept the audiences transfixed by showcasing some of the top animation and games content. Topping off the sessions with MPC representatives showcasing the trailer of Lion King, the event had the audiences screaming with anticipation. A panel centred on equality addressed the problem of the unequal representation of women in leadership positions, discussing as to what sort of affirmative actions need to be taken to equalise the ratio.
Indian IPS have risen and how!
Cosmos Maya, DQ, Golden Robot, Green Gold are just some of the big names amongst many that have risen to produce animated content, making massive waves across the world filmscape. While Rajeev Chilaka from Green Gold spoke about the success of beloved character Chota Bheem (Kung Fu Dhamaka), Munjal Shroff from Graphiti studio made me feel equally proud about their Indian IPS like Krish Trish and BaltiBoy and YOM running rings around international counterparts on an OTT giant like Netflix.
It was an enriching experience.
Under the marquee of the gaming world, I saw Cindy Armstrong from Games Guru and Sashi Menon from Ubisoft creating a phantasmagoric environment, showcasing gaming content that has won all the hearts. Menon shared that the company recently expanded its footprints in the country by kickstarting operations in Mumbai.
ABAI is rising as the flagbearer of the AVGC scene
Not only bringing together the chieftains and experts from all over the world but also engaging them in constructive ways with expertly curated panels were some absolutely commendable feats achieved by the ABAI members. With hundreds of volunteers and backstage team ensuring the smooth running of the summit and performances at the end of the show, they captured the imagination of the attendees and left them in anticipation of the next edition.
Competitions ranging from story writing to 3D modelling, 3D game art, hackathon, character animation, clay sculpting, digital painting were all being held in the premises. All one needed was a few clicks on the phone to know which part of the GAFX map they are going on. The delighted students and professionals waited in anticipation to hear out the winners’ names. I still pleasantly reel with the fact that the event allowed me to rub shoulders with and absorb insights from some of the most prominent and prodigious folks from the world. And of course, the talented students that just couldn’t get enough of it.
Government of Karnataka pushes the envelope
Karnataka has been consistent in allocating huge chunks of funds to promote the AVGX sector, making the state the frontrunner of the AVGC advancements. It was absolutely reaffirming to hear of the scholarship, internship and grants policies that are being launched in favour of the students. The educational initiatives and start-up funds have really been instrumental in bringing about a revolution in the regional cinema. Evidence of which is what I saw in the ultimate and electrifying panel discussion on Kannada cinema.
Through and through, Bengaluru GAFX summit was a terrific event that I wish to want to keep attending every year. Or as they say, I am completely chuffed to bits.