July 17-2017
Shunning the VFX monotony with Shani visual effects supervisor Vipul Valvi

Ever since the launch, Swastik Productions’ Karmafal Daata Shani has generated a lot of buzz, given this is the first of its kind on a deity who is thought to bring bad luck. Now 180 episodes into the maiden season, Shani continues to go strong.

An instrumental part of its success can be attributed to the breath taking visual effects, which has only added to the show’s entertainment.

We bring you an exclusive interview with Shani VFX supervisor Vipul Valvi, who reveals the inside stories of the show’s visual effects and what goes into making.

How has been your experience of working for Shani?

It has been about for a year and it’s really great. There were a lot of challenges coming up everyday at work, so that was really exciting.

What was your inspiration? Who thought of it? Was it a joint decision?

The whole approach was distinct. We had to collect a lot of designs. The whole show was not earthly. The skies, the cloud, nothing had any element which you can see when you go out and look into the sky. It had to be like a fantasy world.

Who thought of this concept? What was your director’s expectations about the visual effects?

Director Siddharth Kumar Tiwary was the one who visualised it and it was very clear what he meant. He had a very clear vision of things along with us. It involved a lot of designs and concepts. It was very different from the reality.

How was it working with the director Siddharth Kumar Tiwary?

He is a man of vision. He had several bright ideas and was quite particular about what he wanted. So it wasn’t that easy but it was great considering the final output that came out at the end.

How do you organise the work in a VFX studio?

In terms of broadcasting, the deadlines are very harsh. So, as soon as we get the story, we start working on the design and try to finish it before the shoot begins.

Which was the most challenging VFX scene till now? How did you manage to achieve it?

The most challenging sequence was probably the fight sequence between Shukracharya and Indra. We had to break it down completely which was cumbersome.

Can you describe the work on lighting and rendering?

For the base lightings, we tried to map set extensions and CG elements to the actual effect. We try to see that the base lighting is similar to how it is in actuality. Whereas rendering is generally very heavy. We try to finish it before the shoot begins.

What’s about the lights and colors used in the show? As in, we see blue lights when someone is cursing, then there is yellow light as well. How do you decide on this? Are the new shows highly influenced by the Ramayana and Mahabharat of the old?

Shows like Ramayana and Mahabharat are the benchmarks. People enjoy watching them and I personally too enjoyed it. However, there isn’t a story behind the use of colors. After the story is written, we start approaching the shots. We have to deal with a lot of SSLV as we try to bring a different look for each and every character. So that’s all decided.

A show on Shanidev hasn’t been done before. It is kind of a unique show. So when you were approached for Shani, what were your first reactions?

I realised there was a lot of VFX, CG. The VFX in particular, would be very heavy and that was a challenge and I felt maybe I want to do it.

How has the VFX treatment of the old times changed with the new ones? Such as the fight sequence and appearances of the characters?

Better techniques and advanced software that we have today, weren’t available back then. Also the audio visuals have changed. People are watching movies like Baahubali and Avengers so maybe they desire more VFX heavy movies. Also the quality has gone up relentlessly.

Is there any new technology or software that is being used for the VFX of Shani?

I think people are using the same software, however the versions are changing. A lot of new features keep getting added in them.

One of the episodes of Shani showcased an epic scene wherein a hapless Shanidev pleads to a cursing Neelima, whereas Saranyu had to intervene. The visual effects of the scene were very gripping. How did you go about it?

We had a simple, straightforward approach. The concept of the scene was deep, whereas the VFX was heavy. So we first conceptualised the VFX before going for the shoot, got it done before the shooting began and then the scene was shot entirely on the set. Then, we tried to match the sequence with the VFX later on along with the lighting.

Do you think a trend has started where shows are inclining more and more towards VFX? Because after Baahubali, people have started loving VFX.

Yes absolutely. In the coming years, probably more shows will be based on VFX. After Baahubali, a VFX trend has started as people now want to see more of VFX.

Is there any upcoming episode that is  visually interesting VFX wise which viewers can look forward to?

A fight sequence between Hanuman and Shani is coming up. People are going to love it as there is a lot of action and breath-taking VFX in it.

When did the pre-production begin? What were the process and the challenges?

The major challenge was matching the looks. We had a very clear vision and the approach was to just put the ideas in front of the director. Because there are so many designs and concepts. But once we got going, we got more clear of the goals. Some initial concepts and ideas took about a year to materialise though.

Do you personally follow any mythological stories or watch any?

No. I personally don’t follow any such shows.

Swastik Productions show Karmafaldata Shani has no doubt created a benchmark in visual effects in the TV industry.We wish Vipul Valvi and his VFX team all the best for future.