Drishyam VFX may be in only the second year of its operations but it has gone a long way in easing the special effects and VFX demands of the media industry.Started by Drishyam Films, the studio that has produced award winning films like Masaan, Dhanak, Newton, Waiting, etc offers diverse services ranging from chroma keying to VFX composting, 3D real estate walkthroughs and 3D CGI services.Their USP is that they have multiple senior creative consultants working with them. Hence the creative exposure is vast and challenges are inevitable.We spoke with the key employees of Drishyam VFX to gain some insights about the perks of a VFX job and how it can be fun too.
Give us a short introduction about yourself and your involvement in this industry. How was your experience in Drishyam?
Dhiraj: I am Dhiraj, a CGI supervisor in Drishyam VFX. I belong to a Gadhwali Rajput family from Uttarakhand and have been born and brought up in Mumbai. My education and 13 years of work life is also from this city. Therefore, I am totally a Mumbaikar. I am in the VFX and CG industry for almost ten years now.Initially I was working in some other industry. After 3 years, I took a big decision did a complete career shift to the VFX industry. Somewhere inside, I always wanted to do what I like. And today I feel I am enjoying my work and have enough room to accomplish those little dreams. I have joined Drishyam VFX because I think in spite of being a start-up in this difficult business, the studio has performed and grown in one years’ time. It is always good to be a part of a growing company. Having said that, I believe the expansion plans of Drishyam have actually convinced me to stay here. Drishyam VFX has multiple senior creative consultants working with them, so the creative exposure is vast here and the challenges are inevitable.
MJ: I am Mrityunjay Singh. It has been two years since I am working at Drishyam as a VFX Supervisor. I have 13 years of experience in the industry as I had started from February 2004. My first job was of a 2D animator for a company in Delhi. From the beginning, I was always fascinated with movies like Godzilla, Jurassic Park and Anaconda. As a kid, I had a penchant for these unrealistic characters and their picturisation on screen. I always wanted to learn more and enter this industry.VFX gives you time to imagine things. There is no limit for imagination. One can create fictional things by using VFX techniques. Hence, every film has different challenges. You get to learn new things from every project as it comes. That is my driving force and that is why I am passionate about my work. Everyone related to me were equally excited with my decision of entering in such a unconventional field.
Amit: I am Amit Malviya and I have been a part of Drishyam VFX since September 2015. I have more than 10 years of experience in the industry. I have pursued a proficient course in Animation & VFX from College of Animation Bio-engineering & Animation Research Centre, Amravati. There we were taught fine arts in conjunction with technology. Further I continued learning from MAAC. My first job was at Om Creations Studio, Mumbai where I brushed upon my skills. And then I had got the opportunity to work with companies like Visual FX studio, Tata Elxsi, Red chillies, Prime Focus and Prana studios. I chose this field unintentionally, but it has made me evolve with its challenges with every single passing day. Drishyam VFX is like a family for me, I have been here since its inception and have been a part of all the ups and downs.
Dipali: I am Dipali Sawant. Currently, I am working as AVP – HR & Operations in Drishyam. Its been more than 18 months now with a work experience of more than 10 years. The past 4 years in the VFX industry have been super exciting. I had seen Hollywood movies like Jurassic Park and Men in Black during my childhood and was always in awe with the visual effects used in them. I used to wonder how those movies were made. Even after my PGHRM, when I started working as an HR professional, the curiosity bug for the VFX techniques remained intact in me. When the opportunity to work in the VFX world came, I grabbed it with both hands. Even though I work as an HR manager, I stay updated with the new visual effects techniques.
VFX is regarded as a very stressful job. What do you do to de-stress? Do you engage in any fun activities to balance entertainment with work life?
Dhiraj: Stress is at all levels and it depends upon how you handle it. Gradually, I have realised that stress comes with responsibility. And I believe, humour is the best antidote for stress. Humour and laughter can be effective self-care tools to cope with them. In VFX industry, the stressful days are always when you have a tight deadline and you are behind the projected schedule. But sometimes, client’s feedbacks and shortage of resources can also add enough pressure.Celebrating festivals and parties are always good. But I feel night outs or sports event can really give you a good break from your daily routine work. It can completely change the work environment.
MJ: Yes, VFX is definitely a stressful job because the client expects superior quality of work in a very limited time. Time has always been a constraint which increases the work stress.Holidaying or taking a break after a project is successfully completed is what I opt for. But the best way to de-stress myself is watching movies or a good series.There are lots of fun activities in our office every week, which is a great stress buster for all of us! Drishyam VFX focuses on the motivation of their employees by keeping them happy and refreshed with creative games.
Dipali: Drishyam VFX is an ideal studio where the employees are constantly recognised and motivated irrespective of the dynamic nature of the industry. The engagement activities at Drishyam are not only limited to festive celebrations or traditional days.The employees are constantly encouraged and given the platform to showcase their talents through internal newsletters and quick web publications. Every employee’s birthday is a festival for us. ‘Cheers’ is just a normal word for our office parties which are happening in regular and short intervals. Our parties are certainly converted as a concert podium in the grooming of our family. Drishyam artists never get bored in their work as not even a week passes through their time sheet without an event of joy. Almost all the weekends end with activities like fun games, fancy competitions and creative games which keeps our artists motivated and refreshed for the next week. For Drishyam VFX, employee engagement is just not a group of activities, it is our culture.
Can you brief us about the VFX work in short? What are the roles of director and producer in VFX? Are they liberal in terms of creativity?
Dhiraj: As I mentioned, I have recently joined Drishyam. Every studio has different structures of operating and I am still in a stage of absorbing the studio style and its standards. There are few projects on floor and I feel a TV series on which we are working has some decent VFX challenges.I am definitely looking forward for an upcoming project where we have to build a photoreal Pegasus (horse with wings) which I feel would be the most challenging project. Generally, we have a brief discussion with directors where we analyse the scale of the project. At initial levels, the entire focus is always on the most challenging areas of VFX followed by the sequence and the shot details. During this process, the producers and the supervisors play a vital role as they have to analyse the scope of work, setup time and resources.
MJ: Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhary gave complete liberty while working for Baiju and Billu as he had trust in me and Drishyam’s work. In this short film, we had to create two little birds of the same species but their looks had to be different. One bird was a “Nani”, a bird of older age and the other was a younger kid bird named Baiju. I have also worked for an ad film of Maruti Ciaz where the shots were very challenging. The entire background had to be created and the beautification had to be done. This was very challenging and I enjoyed doing it very well. We take the brief from director, ask him for references and try to make options for them before starting any project. We try to always deliver the best quality in a way that is suitable for our entire team and we don’t get stuck in between.
Amit: The good part of Drishyam VFX is that it has always picked projects which are challenging in some or the other way. I am lucky to be a part of this young and dynamic team. Our studio headed by COO Rajeev Kumar believes that young minds bring out the best in creativity. And so, he has always trusted me in my work. We always have a creative discussion on the scope of work and everyone’s suggestions bring out the best in all projects.I have been a part of movies like Tum Bin 2, Fitoor, Mona Darling, Mother.Fitoor was our first film project here and it is very special to me. In this movie, we created snow and snowfalls that has shown Kashmir in the most picturesque manner. Abhishek Kapoor’s trust and our team’s dedication applauded critic review of being the visually stunning film. Tum Bin 2, Mona Darling, Maatr are the movies which I have worked upon with my team.
How is your daily schedule in Drishyam office? VFX work is regarded as a team job. So how do you bond together as a team? Tell us about the activities you do in free time.
Dhiraj: Being a CG supervisor, I take all the relevant information from the director, VFX supervisor and the producer. After absorbing all the information, I do a filtering and only the relevant data that has been fed in the CG production tracker. Efforts that I put during the initial planning make me analyse the scope of work for each shot and then every shot is handled as per the complexity. My daily schedule is to make sure the things are moving technically and creatively correct. The best time to bond with the team is off work. Therefore, I spend a lot of time with the team on other activities to strengthen the bond. Bonding comes to play when you expect the team to stretch the working hours. Such situations can be easily tackled with team spirit and good working environment.
MJ: I first check if notes are given from client, then I see if artists are working correctly according to the notes. Then I plan the possible shots for delivery. Talking and sharing opinions are very important for team work. I am always open for communications, taking suggestions from my fellow teammates. This way, everyone feels important and it also promotes team unity. At times, there are days when there is less work. Then we watch few amazing scenes of VFX based movies which inspires us to work in a better way.
Dipali: Employee engagement activities, fun activities, attending to employee grievances and welfare, recruitments etc. are done. I usually have meetings with my team mates to talk through what they are working on at the moment or to share ideas and plan for what we are going to do next. I need to decide each day what I must prioritise so that I can go home at the end of the day feeling satisfied with what I have achieved.
Can you share any memorable moments while working at office? What is the best thing about Drishyam VFX?
Amit: As I have already stated that Drishyam VFX is my family. Every single day I spend here is special for me. We were a small bunch of employees when we got an opportunity to show our creativity in Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor. It was a challenging time for us as we were beginners in the industry. But the way our team performed and accomplished the beautiful VFX work in this movie is truly memorable. I strongly believe that “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Dipali: The best thing about working at Drishyam is that I get a chance to make a difference to the environment that people work in. We spend about 40 percent of our waking hours at work and it makes a great impact when people are happily working in the office.
How supportive is the management of Drishyam VFX in stressful situations?
Amit: Every job brings responsibilities and pressure with it. Team work is the strongest advantage here in Drishyam VFX. The management team is equally responsible for the end to end delivery of a project.We are fortunate to be a part of Mr. Manish Mundra’s start up in the entertainment industry. His principles and systematic way of working has been inculcated in all our lives.
MJ: “It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” While working on severe deadlines for the completion of projects, artists and supervisors work day and night. But the backbone and support for us is our management team. Right from higher management to IT to HR & Admin, every single person contributes to this hard work. The constant co-operation and support gives us the confidence to focus and achieve the best in the industry.
Having young and dynamic leaders in the management team is a boon or bane?
Dhiraj: It’s definitely a boon to have young leaders. The idea to have them comes up with lot of advantages. Their ambition and hunger to perform can lift up the entire team. Generation gap makes it difficult for selling or pitching an innovative idea. But a young boss would be more excited and energetic in exploring the options. Younger leaders very well know how to encourage and keep the team motivated to achieve targets. Compared to older managers, young leaders are more open to feedback. Moreover, they ask for feedback about their performance and look forward to implement it.
Dipali: Our workforce is mostly young. Having a young leader like Rajeev has been a blessing for our company. Prospective and current employees get inspired by his sheer passion and conviction to achieve the desired goals. It is definitely a boon to have young leaders and a dynamic workforce. Their ideas and viewpoints blend with each other very well. The thoughts are fresh and there is novelty in what they do.
How do you celebrate work accomplishments? Are there cheers, applauses at the end of a VFX project?
Dhiraj: The cheering happens every time when you accomplish any challenge. It is a day to day process and as a supervisor you have to and you should keep cheering your teammates on regular basis. It is definitely a proud feeling when you see your work on screen, TV or even YouTube. I have noticed that my family and friends seems to be more excited than me whenever they come across any advertisement hoarding and TV ads. This has happened many times during TV commercials, Krrish 2, Kick and Ra.One.
MJ: Yes there are clappings and appreciation when we finally complete a project successfully. It feels amazing to see your work on screen. It is the biggest compliment when people feel it is real but actually it is the creativity of VFX.
Amit: I like to be in a very lively and dynamic environment every single day. Our team does not need big reasons to celebrate. But it feels magical when you are credited and appreciated for all the hard work done in the past for any project.
It is rightly said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Drishyam VFX has no doubt created a benchmark in having the work and fun balance. Hats off to the professionals working in this industry who work so hard to show the scintillating magic of VFX onscreen.