VAM Summit and Awards: VFX stalwarts weigh in on the future of VFX

The VAM Awards saw a definitive interaction amongst the creme de la creme of the VFX industry brainstorming on the issues, projections and solutions. One by one, the panelists offered their comments on how they see the “Indian VFX Industry: Vision 2025”.

Weighing in on the current issues that afflict the VFX scenario, Bharati pointed out that while there is a lot of brainstorming in the aspect of VFX and previz that was accelerated by the pandemic, there is still much more of the ground that we must cover. She implored that filmmakers should plan things ahead of time and communicate with the VFX department by involving them at the script level.

Senior VFX producer Asmita Bharati shared, “Studios were jampacked with whatever was already shot. Somehow they made WFM possible. Many theatrical releases are still on hold. What is always called Fix it in Post, I really hope it becomes Fix it in Pre in the near future. A lot of filmmakers are using previz and storyboarding now. Fixing things in advance is always good.”

Makuta co-founder Pete Draper shined a light on some concerning effects of covid. He noted, “Distributors are skeptical of putting any money in so it is going to take some time. We won’t see a return to normalcy until 2023. The primary thing is whether we are going to wait until everyone is vaccinated or we have crowd immunity now. Working from home will depend on two factors. You can have all the security in the world and have them legally bound. But there is always a worry whether some third person can take out their camera and click a picture.”

Technicolor country head Biren Ghose highlighted that the multidimensionality of the VFX sphere has grown to become a key subset of motion pictures industry. He shared, “VFX has two to three dimensions; all of which helps it to grow exponentially in different ways. It has become an important subset of films. If you look at the top 100 movies made anywhere in the world, you will see that VFX is a great value addition in the process of movie making. Computer graphics and VFX are extended arms and play an increasingly important role in movie making. It is helping to create the story before it is actually created.”

One look at the percentage of budgets, Ghose believes, tell us that any storytelling that requires action need VFX. In the post pandemic future that requires scenarios and environments; what used to happen to people travelling to different locations, VFX is now providing solutions in that area

He shares, “VFX is not just for Marvel and DC movies, it is also very much a part of love story because you need different forms of water and surround the scene with different forms of life that only VFX can enable. Indian scenario is challenged but changing rapidly.”

Echoing that Indian is headed in the right direction, Digital Domain 3.0 VFX producer Praveen Kilaru shared, “Things are getting better for the industry in terms of budgets, scope and the post-production. And the work is going to increase exponentially down the lane. Hardware and software has what a lot of things possible. It is not just a wonderful experience for the audience but also the creative people because the work becomes interesting.”

DNEG VFX supervisor Tim McGovern shared that circumventing the depredations of the pandemic was easier since a lot of technology that allows remote working existed already. He shared, “When the pandemic came along, the business had actually survived because we were already doing sit ups and push ups before running that grand marathon.”

VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan pointed out that the pandemic situation has done a lot of things for the VFX industry. He informed, “At present all the local VFX studios are full and I can see a lot of growth. VFX is not just about post. It has now gone into preproduction also. A lot of kids are learning VFX and filmmaking because unlike before, parents are now encouraging their kids. There is a demand for government support. Local studios are suffering because of the lack of subsidies.”

VFX stalwarts reflected on the trends and developments in every aspect of the business and technology associated with the highlighted projects. Panelists praised the organisers for arranging the VAM summit and enabling conversations amongst every stakeholder of the value chain.

With local, national and international speakers gracing the event, the panelists heaped praise on AnimationXpress for bringing them together to brainstorm solutions. 2020 indeed hasindeed brought about a digital transformation and the traditional models and pipelines are indeed changing in favour of bigger budgets and enhanced technologies.