“New projects are bound to flood in once COVID situation betters”: 4DVFX’s Rajat Dalui

Animation and VFX studios are coping with the pandemic to the best of their abilities, and Kolkata based Fourth Dimension Studio, now known as 4DVFX Studio, is no exception. Though there were certain challenges that the studio faced initially due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the studio is quite optimistic that the situation would improve soon.

With the lockdown still continuing in the city at regular intervals, the studio has resumed operations from the studio and is taking advantage of the situation as best as they can. Mostly working on Bengali film VFX projects, their projects were affected for a time being as live-action shooting has been at a temporary standstill, but things are not as rough as they seem to be.

Rajat Dalui

4DVFX founder and creative director Rajat Dalui shared with AnimationXpress that 30 to 40 per cent of employees, who stay nearby or own a vehicle, have joined the office. “The studio was closed from 23 March to 7 June 2020. We resumed office on 8 June and have been running since then, but our Mumbai studio is fully closed till date. We are not allowing workers to travel by public vehicles till the situation is considerably safer. Our studio also has a staying facility, and few employees are staying for safety reasons,” said he.

Dalui also mentioned that the studio has undertaken precautionary measures like body sanitization, regular office sanitization and thermal checkups to ensure the safety of the employees. Masks are mandatory for everyone throughout the working period, in fact the studio is providing masks if needed. Entry for outsiders is totally restricted.

Not only COVID, the studio has displayed brilliant resilience in front of other challenges too. Many of the employees of the 4DVFX studio working from home didn’t have enough bandwidth or the required internet speed and work was delayed. Incessant rain followed by the severe cyclone Amphan hampered work. However, once things limped back to normal and the employees got back to work, it was all about completing pending projects at a super jet speed. “We are completing pending projects from the pre-lockdown period and also doing the television VFX for current episodes,” added Dalui.

4DVFX which has some popular films to its credit, has an upcoming slate of movies including Bengali movies like, Kakababur Protyaborton (The Return of Kakababu), Habuchandra Raja and Gobuchandra Mantri, Tonic, Feluda Pherot (web-series by Srijit Mukherji) and others.  

There are much to improve though. Dalui says that in their working field, they can only be fully operative after COVID situation is over or under control with the introduction of a vaccine. “VFX and Animation work consists of heavy files and there are other aspects too that are difficult to carry out when working from home. Though we have shifted systems and arranged for requirements, there are technical issues like data security, high-end system requirements and so on while working remotely. Having said that, maintaining a proper spacing/social distancing norm could be difficult at the office, and many employees stay far away from the office and need to travel by train. So a section of employees has joined office and rest are working from home. Overall, we are managing it quite efficiently,” Dalui stated. 

With movie theaters being shut for the last couple of months, 4DVFX faced a crisis in the upcoming project lineup. Mostly relying on VFX, their work is totally dependent on movie production. Dalui further noted that working on animated content is comparatively easy as it doesn’t require live shooting. He also shared that there have been monetary shortcomings during the pandemic, but the studio overcame that hurdle too. 

“Lockdown started in March and no work happened during those two and half months. Payments were stuck everywhere and we did face glitches, but we paid salaries to all employees for that period,” Dalui told AnimationXpress. 

Despite the challenges and difficulties, he is hopeful of the future as work is slowly resuming. He feels that one we overcome COVID situation, they’re going to be flooded with new work and projects. Till then, it’s only a matter of survival.