Visualise the following:-
*Sanjay Dutt at the steering wheel of a car which sails smoothly in the skies
*Sanjay Dutt’s & Shahid Kapur’s Ghosts (That can walk right through people and walls, shake a leg at the disc and bash up villans)
*Hell & Heaven
Once you have visualised these, think of how would you execute your visualisation using software, hardware and techniques.
Easier imagined then executable, isn’t it?
That’s all in a day’s work for a VFX producer who faces tough creative as well as technical challenges everyday and that actually is one of the reasons why the VFX clan love their job so much.
And while you are reading this piece and visualising ghosts and hell and heaven and flying cars it may well be worth your while to go catch a screening of Aavishkar Films’ Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi which features a staggering sixty minutes of VFX work visualised and executed by post production and VFX biggie Prime Focus.
Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar the movie features Sanjay Dutt as a modern day Yamraaj who flies the skies in an antique Chevrolet instead of a bull and Shahid Kapur whose ghost gets a chance to return to his family on earth. The easy going film has some nice VFX work which is completely part of the narrative and that makes the FX easy on the eyes rather than being jarring or overwhelming.
Led by Prime Focus Visual Effects Supervisor & Creative Director Merzin Tavaria, a team of 40 artists including 3D artists, compositors, Matte painters, rig removal artists etc worked on the project for close to three months.
Speaking to Animation ‘xpress, Merzin Tavaria shared,”It has been a great experience working on VLHTA. The movie had a lot of VFX shots. The were broken down into categories of Cloud Sequence, Shahid & Sanjay Ghost effect, Hell Sequence, Heaven Sequence and MILO motion control sequence plus various flying car shots throughout the film. Besides there were also other regular wire shots and simple FX. The total screen time finally added up to more than 60 minutes which by far is the maximum done in any one Indian film. The Prime Focus team that worked on the film consisted of over 40 artists which include 3D artists, compositors, Matte painters, rig removal artists etc.”
Elaborating on the cloud sequence which was done in CG, Merzin stated,”The R&D started a year back. There was always an option of shooting real clouds to get the natural look but that would limit us in what shots we could do. So without ruling out that option we kept on going with our R&D. The clouds were done in Maya 3D. After achieving the desired look of the clouds the next big challenge was to process them in the most effecient way so they would not take too much time on each frame. As the production progressed we scaled up our render farm and at the end of the project there were totally 50 cpus that were deployed to do this eight minutes. plus of clouds. After generating the clouds, the lead characters had to be composited on them. This was done on Discreet Logic Smokes running on SGI Tezros. The smokes were very helpful in churning out the shots”
On being asked as to which was the most challenging work in the movie, Merzin replied,”The Shahid Ghost effect was particularly very challenging because of the sheer number of shots which was over 650 shots. It all started with frame by frame cutting of mattes for the characters. The effect as such consists of a glow along with a moving texture and smoke particles. As each shot would have a different lighting pattern, maintaining this for all the shots was a very difficult exercise. The applications used were Adobe After Effects and Particle Illusion”
“Prime Focus was involved from the initial days of shooting. It really helps in being a part of preproduction so certain decisions are made on the planning table and not during shoot. This saves a lot of shoot time besides adding value to the final product” he concluded.