Day 3 of CII Summit FX 2020 witnesses an energetic bunch of sessions on the future of technology and content

Aggregating a relevant AVGC community, Day 2 of CII Summit FX 2020 saw a spate of sessions meditating upon the future of the technology and its myriad applications. First session tracked the journey of digital humans in films and games through the evolution of technology. Panelists included some of the most prominent names in the industry. Moderated by R.K Chand Head of Studio Technicolor Film & Episodic VFX Mumbai, TraceVFX, the session was graced by Mike Seymour Ph.D Researcher Lecturer Writer – Tech Specialist Digital Humans: MOTUS Lab USYD & FXguide Co-founder, Australia and Paul Debevec Senior Staff Scientist Google Research Adjunct Research Professor of USC Computer Science & USC ICT, USA. Touching upon the marriage of science and creativity by using machine learning as a hybrid solution, panelists envisaged a brighter future on the horizon for digital humans. Supplementing the prospect of digital humans in movies, Anant Haldia Founder/Director I-C-E Studios discussed at length through a series of slides the advent and future of computer-generated humans in the Indian filmscape. Citing examples of big-ticket movies like Star Wars, Dhoom 3 and Zero,  Haldia illustrated the technical prowess of the sophisticated photogrammetry rigs with which he could deliver accurate data for life-like digital doubles of movie stars. He also discussed advanced technologies and software like Lightstage that captures more complex details for producing photorealistic digital humans. The question remains as to when will the world come to a point of making CG humans photorealistic enough or in other words, indistinguishable from the real ones. The sessions on Digital humans shed light on various advancements that could bridge the uncanny valley.  Global Technology firms have worked hand-in-hand with media companies to bring worlds together across sports, entertainment and experiences. In the next session, Tech Mahindra, USA Business Head – Cable Media and Entertainment Sumit Grover shares how Tech Mahindra have been constantly supporting brands with the technology to have a better experience in gaming and esports. Grover noted, “We are automatically filling the meta data which in turn reduces the human effort by 50 per cent.” These technologies include Cybersecurity tool, Cloud, Blockchain and more; and one of the brands to whom they have provided the technology is Super League Gaming. Super League has navigated the competitiveness in Esports & Gaming market with enhanced technology incorporation. Super League Gaming, USA chairman and CEO Ann Hand shared, “There are 2.6 billion gamers on the planet and over 50 per cent of them identify as competitive therefore the advance technology tools are not just limited to enterprise production tools but they also have given rise to social connectivity among large communities – esports is among them.” The session was followed by a meaty discussion on the art of start-ups. Panelists included Rajesh Jog Managing PartnerNexstage Venture Advisors, Vishal Gondal Entrepreneur & Angel Investor Founder & CEO GOQii, BS Srinivas Secretary ABAI – GOK Centre of Excellence in Animation Visual Effects Gaming & Comics Sector, Bengaluru, Prabir Kumar Das Director Software Technology Parks of India, Ravi Gururaj Founder & CEO QikPod, Salone Sehgal Founder Partner Lumikai. Spanning the protection of IP, investment in the gaming sector, creating innovative games, opportunities in Game development, Gamification as a winner in various sectors like health-care, dangers of VP’s investing in gambling games, impetus to gaming industry by government policies, the session provided an insight into the world of start-ups in the gaming sector.  While the business side of the gaming sector was covered in the earlier session, the next session saw an elaborate panel discussion that touched upon its creative aspects.  The session on Producing Games in India -State of the Art and Next Steps witnessed a great mix of industry leaders. Panelists included Jio Platforms lead games ecosystem general manager Ashish Gupta, Rockstar Games, India Managing Director Dan Smith, Streetlamp Games CEO and founder Deepak Gurijala, Unity Technologies Country Manager Ramesh Anumukonda ,Super Gaming / June Gaming co-founder and CEO Roby John. They began by chronicling their individual growth stories in AAA games and how they achieved success in the said route. As per the panelists, connectivity, bandwidth explosion and low costs provided the perfect playground for games to become interactive across geographies and genres. India is a huge market with great growth potential and this has given tremendous impetus to game development & distribution in India. From Indie players to Industry giants; all seem to be poised transform this ecosystem. The session became a great source of inspiration for the budding game developers. One of their key mantra that panelists shared during the session was ‘to be patient and keep trying and keep improvise the areas in the game constantly where it is needed.’ In the next session, the subject was ‘XR Goes Mainstream: Many Facets of XR session’ which was participated by an array of speakers. Panelists included GoPhygital co-founder and COO Ninad Chhaya, Ghosh Blippar India Former Managing Director Arnav Neel Ghosh, Parallax Labs LLP co-founder Krupalu Mehta, Gamitronics founder and CEO Rajat Ojha. Panelists echoed the notion that ‘businesses should incorporate immersive technology like XR to rev up their workflow engines’. They shared how, despite all the challenges, ‘this technology is evolving each day and the interest of the enterprises is also increasing.’ Panel discussion threw light on XR incorporation being crucial in both ways; XR for consumers and XR for brands to revolutionise the ecosystem with immersive technology .
The birth of modern retail and the way brands create activation combined with the e-Shopping becoming ubiquitous during the lockdown – means L&M is now a 2-way street – merchandise need not follow successful shows – it could happen the other way around. The panel discussion on ‘New Approaches in Licensing and Merchandising – Franchise 360°’ saw a raft of distinguished panelists. Likes of which included Nitin Kalra Regional Director – India, SAARC & MENA Animation International, India, Jaineel Aga Founder and CEO Planet Superheroes, Muslim Kapasi Director My Baby Excel, Nannette D’Sa Brand Expansion Advisory Independent Director Zee Learn MT Educare Kamats Vidli Rest. Strategic Advisor Garodia Edu, Sachin Puntambekar Vice President, Consumer Products Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd
Panelists spoke about the significance of stories in the covid times and their ability to drive the market despite the present circumstances. They also discussed consumer approach, mapping of store inventory to websites, technology-enabled tectonic shift and the impact of changing content on the merchandising.  As an addendum to the session above, the next session saw an insightful presentation about the survey reports on the trends that dominate that space currently. The panel on “The Power of Consumer Insights in Content Creation – Outside & In: Approaches to Development” was graced by Kiran Prasad Head of Production MPC Film Bangalore, Alex Rapley Client Services Manager Kids Insights & parents Insights and Ms Leena Lele Dutta Business Head Sony Pictures Networks India, Kids’ Genre. Rapley gave an exclusive array of insights into consumer behaviour through a slide-show while Dutta spoke about the journey of SonyYay as a kids’ channel.  India has long aimed for homegrown content that has the potential to fly outwards for global consumption owing to its rich heritage and culture of storytelling. 
Following session on Styling Local IP for Global Markets focused on how local stories and IPs can be made for global audiences: from Shuzo John Shiota of New Age Anime Powerhouse Polygon Pictures, Japan in conversation with Award winning Indian Film makers E Suresh, Studio Eeksaurus Spotlight was turned on the VFX in the next session that meditated upon the roadmap of Indian VFX ecosystem and its global aspirations. 
A significant revenue driver of India’s AVGC sector comes from the amazing big-ticket work done by visual effects studios for the global majors as well as for Indian blockbusters. This panel comprises of the strategists who lead the sector and will explore “what’s next” after this ‘crazy abnormal’ Panelists included Kranti Sarma Head of Studio Film & Episodic Visual Effects (FEV), Technicolor India, Grib Chandran Head of Production Redefine, Mike Yatham CEO & Managing Director RotoMaker, Pete Draper Division Head & Chief Technical Director Makuta VFX, Saurabh Dalmiya Head of Business Development Anibrain
Session opened up various pathways of thoughts as to what need-gaps must be addressed for India to inch closer to becoming a global powerhouse. While Draper felt that the pedagogy of Indian Institutes needs to foster creativity instead of relying on technical skills alone, Yatham suggested that academic institutes should invite VFX professional for guest lectures to better understand the nuances on the ground. The sentiment of partnerships with institute was echoed by Sharma too as she felt this would yield better results and talent-pool. The panel also felt the importance of learning about virtual production which has come to preoccupy the zeitgeist in the AVGC industry. There was a similar panel that also saw VFX leaders discussing remote pipelines in this COVID scenario and the future of Distributed Production. Panelists included Shajy Thomas Head of Technology, Mpc Film, Mrx, MPC Episodic, Andrew Waite Brown EMEA Regional Director, Teradici, Kumar Chandrasekaran Head of Production Technicolor Animation &Games,  Samit Shetty Technical Solutions Manager Autodesk M&E  and Viral Thakkar Creative Director / VFX Supervisor, Redefine Courtesy of cloud services like ShotGun and Terradici, Work-From-Home pipelines were seamlessly pipelined during the lockdown period  Panel also discussed the impact of pandemic on the workflows. Thakkar shared that they are majorly benefiting from the work from home format of working not withstanding the bottlenecks like network issues. Panelists agreed that Work From Home will continue and it will only be a small percentage of artists who will be required to go to the office. Day 3 added a feather to the cap of AVGC industry, stimulating discussions and forging solution-based conferences to trigger progress in the sector.