Delving into ‘VFX, Post Production and the Machine’

There has been an increase in demand for new content in India. These new stories are being told with the help of high-end computer graphics and visual effects and needs to be delivered under tight deadlines. One key ingredient which can help producers, post-production houses and VFX houses meet these deadlines are faster and reliable servers, and workstations with consistent and reliable performance. 

AnimationXpress in association with Dell Technologies and Microsoft Windows recently held an insightful webinar; touching upon the key aspects of the VFX business ranging from challenges to future technologies to the requisite hardware requirements of the VFX studios.

The day began with AnimationXpress.com founder, chairman & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari laying down the theme of the event and following up with a comprehensive presentation on the VFX scenario in India.

Wanvari highlighted that there has been an increase in movie budgets and allocation of VFX. With the help of the slides, he informed that over the last 10 years, the budgets allocation to VFX for Indian Films has nearly doubled.

Speaking about the economic slowdown witnessed by the VFX industry, Wanvari shared, ‘This year we will be back to FY-16 levels. Movie budgets are going up. Budgets allocated to Indian VFX are increasing. Great deal of demand is coming from OTT platforms.”

Casting light on the growing scope of VFX in movies, he informed, ”In the past, the VFX was less than 10 per cent but in the current times, it is going up to as much as 30 per cent.”

Moderated by Wanvari, the next session was a fireside chat on ‘How global VFX and post-production houses can rely on better class computing technology to achieve their results and what products and services can they use’.

Participated by the likes of Dell Technologies marketing consultant & product evangelist – Dell Precision Workstations Suhas Pingat and Technicolor head of Technology – APAC Shajy Thomas, the session saw a penetrative and insightful discussion on the way hardware can speed up the workflow.

Speaking about the shift to remote pipelines, Thomas recounted, ”2020 was definitely one of the most difficult years. We used to think remote work can not happen but that myth was broken. From tools and technology to pipelines, we learnt everything and started working from home from March.”

Pingat shared that there is absolutely no dearth of talent. Many large studios who work in this space are capable of delivering International level content. We need the shift to happen so that we can have fantastic content for domestic consumption.

Pingat also shared that we shouldn’t worry when it comes to advanced technology. India has the talent and the prerequisite technology to produce world-class content. He added, ”Technologies like mocap that speed up the workflow are available and all we need is investment in that area to unlock the next level of content production.”

The session was followed by a panel discussion on the ‘Scope of Technology in Post-Production’. Moderated by AnimationXpress.com founder, chairman & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, the session was participated by Dell Technologies marketing consultant & product evangelist – Dell Precision Workstations Suhas Pingat, Technicolor head of Technology – APAC Shajy Thomas, Famous Studios managing director Anant Roongta, Rotomaker Studios founder & CEO Madhav Reddy Yatham (Mike), BotVFX head of Systems & Security Mathew S. Augustine. TechTerrain Consulting founder Indivar Nair and DNEG India head of VFX Jigesh Gajjar.

Thomas shared, “In the current times the requirement is 4k plus HDR which multiplies your investment four times. All of us should be proud of the fact that now we are remote enabled. We are going big in terms of investiment in futuristic solutions like private cloud, real-time rendering virtual production and previz, etc.”

Elaborating on their services and how they are investing in technology to expand their business further, Roongta shared, “We’ve predominantly been working on campaign based films and advertising but now we also cater to OTT shows. We have invested in all the major key technologies ranging from Dolby Atmos to Da Vinci to Baselight to mocap etc in order to meet the post production needs of our clients.”

Speaking about the annual budgeting and the amount of investment they put into technology, he shared, “When we do our budgeting we pay equal importance to talent and tech because our aspirations are not continue only as a service provider. We recently also produced our first feature film which will release on Hotstar soon, hopefully. Anywhere between 25 to 30 per cent of our budget every year is what we look at when we talk about reinvesting back in technology.”

Yatham also shared that their systems run in full capacity every week without a pause and they have found Dell products to be reliable and bankable even in the times of crisis.

He shared, “We have 10 training centers in India. So we utilise the workstations at training centers after we have used them at our studio for three years. Budgets are also down by 50 per cent because the demand is less so we are being careful.”

Augustine also elaborated on the investment aspect during the course of the webinar. He shared, “Over the past year, we have made a lot of investments in remote technologies. The challenges we face is that we have to pick and choose which platform we are using because the budgets are mostly limited.”

Nair highlighted the threat that looms over the VFX industry even as we see paradigm shift post covid. He shared, “There is one threat. If we get the workstation on a cloud, it will be very easy for hollywood production houses. They can easily get the work done by individual artists instead of approaching studios.”

Gajjar informed that they have been mainly investing in in-house training to future-proof their studio. He informed, “We are using this time and investment in intense in-house training so the artists can be prepared for the paradigm shift that is happening. We are also working on some IPs too. Virtual Production is the talk of the industry and we are also investing in this technology in a big way.”

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