Good SFX not possible without proper planning, budgets

From being defined as ‘Public ko uloo banane ka dhandha’ to ‘Computer generated imagery skillfully blended with live action’, special FX, their impact and various factors that influence flwaless output were discussed at length in the second panel discussion of day 2 at CgA world 2004. The panelists for the session ‘Special effects in Movies’ were FX Factory CEO Ramesh Meer, 2nz CEO and Creative Director Kireet Khurana, Freelance VFX artist Biju D, Prime Focus MD Namit Malhotra and Rhythym & Hues Director Saraswati Balgam. The discussion was moderated by Ranjit Tony Singh. Trying to define SFX, the panelists took recourse to different ways to prove their point, VFX artist Biju D formerly with Maya Entertainment and now a freelancer had an anecdote to narrate. Biju had gone to meet his prospective mother in law in the village – when it was inquired of him as to what his profession was, he couldnt explain much by simply saying SFX – to make her understand what SFX was Biju spoke about his recently concluded work for ‘Ghulam’ where the hero runs towards the train – he told his overawed mother in law how the hero and the train were shot seperately and then the scenes were mixed – she very fascinatedly remarked ‘ Ooo to yeh public ko uloo banane ka dhandha hai’ this remarked Biju good humouredly, was his definition of SFX. Saraswati of Rhythym & Hues said that the hallmark of good SFX is when people cannot make the difference between CG and live action. As the session advanced, Ramesh Meer who is unarguably the pioneer of SFX in India, took the audience into the past when there were no computers to do effects for movies. He narrated incidents when he had to get spurts of blood onto an actors bleeding stomach and how he had to get innovative to the extent of blowing coloured liquid into hose pipes through a siphon with holes to get the effects. Amongst other topics discussed were Comparing Bollywood FX to Hollywood FX In an on the spot poll conducted amongst the sitting audience, a majority felt that FX in Bollywood movies were not comparable to Hollywood, a third of the audience felt that the FX were just good and the rest thought that they were downright bad. Defending the entire FX industry and arguing that India’s FX industry was as good as Hollywood, a visibly charged Ramesh Meer drew attention to the disparity of the budgets alloted here and in Hollywood. He cited the example of one single scene in ‘Titanic’ which cost the producers $10-15 Million, “Leave alone one scene, producers in Bollywood dont allot that kind of money for the entire movie” he said. Incorporate SFX right from the scripting stage The panelists also argued that it was a trend in India to make the whole movie and then go to the SFX guys asking them to add to the effects. In Hollywood, SFX is planned right from Pre Production thereby giving the SFX people time to visualise and shoot some of the live action stuff required to mix along with the production. Kireet Khurana whose company just finished CG and Animation work on Mandira Bedi’s ‘Shaadi Ka Ladoo’, which has a whole live action cum animation music video, said that “Unless SFX is interwoven into the script right from the planning stages it will always stick out and not have the desired effect”. He further added that “Many movies in the south have some or the other animated character which does not fit in with the story,but is simply added as a gimmick. In the case of ‘Shaadi Ka Ladoo’, Negar Khan plays the role of a pop star whose music video is launched in the movie. This helped the animation in the song ‘Chal Hutt’ to appear as part of the script, part of the flow.” The need for producers to be tech savvy In a reminiscent mood, Ramesh Meer recollected a funny incident where a producer after shooting the whole movie came to him saying “Mujhe Climex mein Effex chahiye” . The SFX wizard recollected that the prducer had a shot of the hero on the ground and a helicopter flying in the air, on being asked what effect did he desire, and the purpose of the effect, the enthusiastic producer replied “thats your job, you make it look good”. The panelists all agreed with him and said that it indeed was a problem when producers were not aware of the needs of the SFX guys. They however opined that some of the new film makers were technically savvy and aware of how proper planning and scripting could help add value to the SFX in their movie.