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Tata Elxsi‘s Visual Computing Labs creates the Bisleri Monster

The recent Bisleri TVC with an impressive setting of Arabic Times and a blue sea monster was developed by Visual Computing Labs, a division of Tata Elxsi. The compositors faced the daunting task of putting together about 60-75 passes per shot – a huge exercise, a team of 15 artists worked on the TVC for 2 months.

Ram Madhwani of Equinox Films came to VCL with an unusual idea of film for Bisleri. It was to have a Loch-Ness type monster set in a fantasy Arabian nights setting. The idea was that a baby monster would spot a couple of sailors and try to gobble one of them up. Unfortunately the baby chokes on the man and the mother monster panics. She sees the other sailor holding a bottle of Bisleri – She grabs the bottle and pours it down the baby‘s throat. The baby manages to swallow the man, thanks to the intervention of clean Bisleri water.

Pankaj Khandpur, Creative Director, VCL shared, “Pre-production was the longest part of the process with a month of concept drawings to lock the look of the monster. Since the character had to be mythical the possibilities were many. There was a style that Ram wanted to develop which required many drawings and iterative processes to be followed. Similarly, on the backgrounds – what started as a stylized Swiss mountain and Lake Theme had to be conceptualized to make it surreal as a perfect setting for the monster.”

Since a lot of the work involved water, an entire production day was set aside to shoot water plates that would be enhanced with CG splashes for the monster‘s appearance from the water. In addition water that was dripping of the monsters body was executed with the help of textures and CGI particle effects. Plates of dripping water were shot but didn‘t work when applied to the CG monster, so a water drip team quickly evolved to keep the monster wet and dripping through the film.

The model of the monster was built according to the concept art. It didn‘t work so the modeling team put in muscle systems and sculpted the form to get in contouring using horses and snakes as examples. Eventually they got a powerful looking monster with muscles that rippled under the skin as she moved. The textures too were unusual- iridescent scales- blue and silver to look exotic but within the realms of credibility.

“It took quite a few turns to get it right. The important thing was to be able to render these 20 odd passes per frame of the monster in an efficient manner. That said, we now had to also deal with the baby monster, this required 40 passes which did not include the water that was required everywhere. It was a mammoth exercise which took about 10 days just to render out. Since most of the shots were pre-composited for the look, the actual putting together was more of a mechanical exercise. But all the efforts were worth it”, Pankaj concluded.

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