‘Time is immeasurable, indestructible and inevitable. If you don’t control it, one day it will control you’. Playing with time can work against you for when you can freeze time, you can change the events and create a different result. Director Vikram Kumar has played with this similar feature of time in his recent film 24 starring the Tamilian veteran actor Suriya Sivakumar.
It’s a science fiction film and science has its own complications with complex formulas and intricate elements. In fact, the film features three different avatars of Suriya and his outrageous invention which later becomes the main cause of the chaos. Creating these elements in a realistic way to convince the viewers was done by the Mumbai based VFX studio – After.
Along with other major VFX studios like Prime Focus and Riva Animation & VFX working on this film, After studio itself delivered around 1100 VFX shots in just two months.
After, VFX supervisor, Vishwas Savanur says, “In the pre- production stage of VFX, we had about 70 artists working on the film for 15 days, and by the end of the project, the number grew up to 200.”
Being involved in the film from mid way, the team of After delivered all kinds of work like CGI , dynamics, green screen composition, cleanups and beautification. “Even though it is a science fiction film, this kind of work was never attempted before and thus referencing was not really helpful. Every sequence was storyboarded and concept drawings were created. Every shot was designed according to the concept drawing,” adds Vishwas.
The plot of the film follows back and forth in time with the three avatars of Suriya racing against time due to the creation of a watch that controls time. All the scenes had CGI added into live shoot, which was difficult as the team had to create visuals which were against nature’s law, still had to look convincingly real.
Vishwas and CG head Priyaal Mhardolkar explain the major VFX sequences, “In the film the protagonist has a watch which has power to freeze time, go forward in time or go back in time. Some of the major sequences were:
The Rain sequence where the protagonist freezes rain. It was conceptualised and executed using CGI. We created multiple layers of frozen rain drops as Suriya freezes rain and interacts with the rain drops.
One of the shot where the camera pulls back from a room to reveal Chennai city was recreated using complex CGI.
The stadium sequence where Suriya goes back in time to freeze time and help India win the match has elements like popcorn, water, drinks, smoke, flags which have been rotoscoped and frozen. Even crowd multiplication and creation of various background elements is a major portion of the film.”
Apart from this, there are various sequences like the axe sequence where the villain cuts Suriya’s hand, feather floating in the air and acid fumes on the wooden floor that are created using CGI, along with other cleanup and removal of the chroma screen shots.
The film featured major freeze sequences along with face replacements that were achieved using prosthetics to portray the different avatars of Suriya distinctly.
Softwares like Maya, 3D Max, Realflow, Nuke, Silhouette, Photoshop and After Effects were used to create the CG elements and visual effects for the film.
The film has gained decent reviews because of its art of storytelling and visual appearance that has quite realistically portrayed the tentacles of science fiction. Moreover, the music of A. R. Rahman has added an extensive factor which builds up the thrill for the mystery.
As far as the work of VFX is considered, After has leaped miles ahead in its quality and quantity of work as compared to its previous works in Jai GangaaJal and Ghayal Once Again. In this film, After has tried its hands on time freeze and CG creation of varied elements thus displaying a hypothetical situation but in a realistic manner.