“In my opinion, if technology is available it is important that you use it.”
What is your perspective on film making today, using digital technology?
One thing I am very clear about is the fact that technology and visual effects should be used only when the script demands it.
In Dhoom 2, lot of Pre-visualization has been done. What do you have to say about it?
Weâ€?ve done animation and pre-visualization for all the action sequences in Dhoom 2 and that is very important in terms of planning, cost effectiveness and also itâ€?s a new way of preparing for shoot and the film specially which is as set on such a large canvas such as Dhoom 2. In Dhoom 1 we had all the action sequences broken down and written. In this movie we had very big action sequences so we had all the scenes storyboarded and they would be checked, double checked and triple checked by myself, Alan Amin and Adi and we would then rectify if needed and that would be our level of planning.
But when we came to Dhoom 2, we realized that we are going to have even bigger action sequences in the sequel than Dhoom 1. The challenge that we faced was how we were going to go about planning the whole thing. So we came up with the idea of doing pre-viz, which is a jargon used by us, it is actually pre-visualization in which one conceives the action sequences, writes them down and then do a shot breakdown along with the with the storyboard artist.
The scenes were sketched and shown to Alan Amin then he made some changes in the camera angles, I made some changes then we had a proper shot list and those were sketched fair, inked and shared with Tata Elexsi who has done the visual effects for both Dhoom 1 & 2 and pre visualization for Dhoom 2. They then created 3 Dimensional rushes of the shots with some additional shots before and after the main sequence.
The 3d pre visualization was then explored and edited for us to have our final plan and those were taken with us on a CD in our laptop for the shoots so that me and the action director, cinematographer etc could refer to them. And believe me, it made the production process that much easier, we knew we had to take shot 1, 7, 9, 11 and 23 on the first day. Everyone knew what was going to happen. We could even evaluate the length of the sequence. Like in the rollerblade chase where after seeing the pre-viz we removed some of the punches because we felt that it was long, its relatively cheaper to have pre viz done rather than shoot it and then realize that itâ€?s too long.
The important thing out here is that if it is available, that kind of technology I think is important to make use of. And itâ€?s not important that you shoot what you have on the pre-viz, you improvise, you go to the location which is different, the topography is different so, you might have to take a shot again. At least you have some kind of a shot in mind and you are not going blank. Now if you go with a blank mind to shoot it might take 7-8 days, whereas if you have pre-viz done then it might take 4-5 days. I think itâ€?s a question of evolving, when you are doing a pre-viz itâ€?s the question of cutting down the cost. So what we did was the 3D version. I think itâ€?s a very important thing but having said that its not a thing that you do just for the sake of it, you have to have difficult sequences in it you have to have wide angle shots, like a huge crowd or may be some riots or stampedes where some disaster is struck. Basically it should be required, you shouldnâ€?t do it just for the sake of it.
So, it really helped you as a director?
Yes, it did, quite a lot. Not only did it help me but also other people working on this film with me like the producer, the DoP, the stunt directors, everybody.
Whose initiative was it to do pre-viz for Dhoom 2?
I canâ€?t remember exactly, though Iâ€?d love to take the credit for it but I think was a natural step ahead from what we did for Dhoom 1. I wanted the action sequences to be storyboarded in Dhoom 1 so; I guess this was taking a step head from storyboards.
Which are your favourite movies amongst so many when it comes to visual effects?
I have always liked Terminator 2. I liked it because of the Terminator, he could go through doors, melt into a pile of mercury ad then get into any shape he wanted. Besides that there are many movies I like. Another movie which I really like is Jurassic Park. I think it is a great example of technology used in the making of the film, where you canâ€?t tell the production person that I want five Dinosaurs tomorrow. You have to make those one by one, what I had heard was there were six to eight people handling one dinosaur, one for hand, for leg, for head etc. and they all had to do it in sync to make it look real.
Can you talk more about film making, post production and DI?
Like I said earlier, in Dhoom 2 we knew that there are going to be many sequences which will be treated in post production, so the shooting was done keeping that in mind. The toy car robbery sequence where the car climbs up the pedestal to the diamond, we shot the car climbing the pedestal and then left it blank because we knew that through visual effects the mechanical arm will be put. So, thatâ€?s how you anticipate things.
I think DI is good as it helps DOPâ€?s, Cinematographers, although it confuses people like me that as to where do the cinematographers job ends and where it begins. Because when the film finishes you just canâ€?t tell that the cinematographerâ€?s job was good or it was the DI. But, I guess it doesnâ€?t matter because it takes a good DOP or a cinematographer to know where the DI is required.
In totality, what I can say is that biggest crime a film maker can commit is to not use technology even when itâ€?s available. It doesnâ€?t matter whether it is a romantic comedy because if you have two people in love and one of them dies and has come back as a ghost just like Patrick Sweyzee in Ghost. Itâ€?s a visual effects film but itâ€?s not a hard core action film. It just depends what the script demands, it neednâ€?t be a film with lot of action or aliens.
Share some scenes from Dhoom 2 where visual effects have been used.
In Dhoom 2 technology has helped a lot. There are some scenes where we have used green screen, we have generated bullet effects. For e.g. the train scene in the starting, the train is a set and it has been shot against the green screen and then much later I shot plates when I went to Namibia with the correct angles and the right perspective. So, thatâ€?s how we used technology in the opening sequence.
There were some scenes where Hrithikâ€?s character was fighting and we didnâ€?t want him to do the shots for the safety matters so we got stunt people to do the shots and then we got the faces digitally changed. Then we have Abhishekâ€?s introduction scene which is also well done, he comes out of the water on a jet ski but the angle which he came out from was 90 degrees but we wanted him to come out at like a 60 degree angle so we shot on super 35 and because of technology we could change the angle and get it just what we wanted.
Then there is the fort sequence where Ash is in the minar where we couldnâ€?t make the whole fort so we just made the front of the fort and the rest was CG. The exterior of the fort where she had to escape and there is a chase happening. We just shot the sequence on the film cityâ€?s helipad and the ambience is created by Tata Elxsi, and the city which is in the background is the still photographs of Jodhpur. There is the toy car sequence in which the toy car itself is CG, also there is the holographic image of the diamond after it is stolen by Hrithik, the mechanical arm that is created. Also there is the sequence in which Hrithik is dressed up as an old man and he is standing on a manhole and a green liquid pores out of his knee to burn out the manhole. That manhole was never there when we shot it, it was completely generated.