VAM Summit’22: Day four takes us behind the scenes of some of the most challenging and brilliant VFX involved in film and series

The VAM Summit organised by AnimationXpress showcased the making of various VFX movies and the sessions discussed the growing potential of the VFX industry, the skillset required, creative eye and many more aspects of VFX.

Day four began with a session called ‘Talent @ Technicolor: The Journey to Stardom.’ It emphasised on the future pipeline for VFX talent in India and had people from Technicolor share their journey and the experience of working with the stellar company. 

The speakers were: MPC asset supervisor Amit Sharma, MPC head of assets Sankarlal M G, MPC head of texturing Subhashis Banik, MPC head of FX Venu Victor, MPC head of creative operations Payal Vijay Selvam and some more members from MPC’s hardworking team.

The entire team could not stop gushing over how incredible a journey it’s been with MPC. “Working for a very long time within one company and then coming to one position is not only because of my skill. The organisation also makes sure that they are giving the right support, right opportunities, right exposure, and the right experience,” said Sankarkal M G. “Being an employee of this studio, I can proudly say that MPC is one of the best places to learn and excel. People who have worked here for a considerable amount of time do develop a world-class skill set,” added Subhasis.

“I wasn’t aware that such a great training program was waiting for me, which helped me understand every bit of the VFX asset pipeline before I started working in the production or in the shows. Technicolor India’s training program is the best,” proudly uttered Amit. “Be it training or mentoring, Technicolor has created a great support structure, which enables everyone to perform at their best,” expressed Payal Vijay Selvam.

Moving on to the next session which was the most awaited ‘The Making of Pushpa: The Rise‘, and Makuta division head and chief technical director Pete Draper shared the VFX breakdown followed by the nitty-gritty that went behind the VFX.

Draper shared how the movie shots were organised scene by scene shot by shot so that the requirements for the VFX work go hand-in-hand and side-by-side. “For Pushpa, we did data acquisition which is logging every single thing that happens on the set. We have got screenshot of the actual shot. We have the bottleneck, the structure of the application that we built (which means tabulate everything and collect everything) and this was done for every single take,” Draper added.

Recently they have worked on RRR whose details he couldn’t share because it was not out yet but the fun fact is that the things that they did in RRR and Pushpa had a synergy. The same artists who worked on RRR have also worked on Pushpa. So they faced couple of clashes in delivery time but the technology that they implemented actually got utilised in both platforms. Apart from that many assets which they created for Pushpa have been utilized in RRR and vice versa. Infact from the Baahubali VFX asset inventory too they have utilised some assets to enhance the beauty of the shots.

“I always say to every director and producer if you can get in camera then get in camera. Its going to look better. VFX should be used for one or three reasons – when it is not practical, it’s too expensive and when it’s not safe,” he shared.

The summit witnessed quite an engrossing panel discussion on the topic:Are we there yet?’. The speakers were: PixelD global CEO and founder Ankur Sachdev, PhilmCGI studio head Thrissur Sanjay Rajan, Framestore India CG supervisor film and episodic Prashant Nair, Stereo D LLC. & CO3 Animation executive VP and CCO Aaron Parry, and DNEG production head A.R. Seshaprasad. The session was moderated by AnimationXpress founder, chairman, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

The panel focussed on discussing whether we have freed ourselves creatively to be able to use our VFX efficiently, have we reached the international standards in terms of usage of processors and workflows, where are the gaps and how are we going to fill them up and more.

Given the growing potential as well as demand in this VFX sector, it becomes imperative to understand the growth prospects, the skill set required, the kind of work this sector has been doing, the challenges and most importantly, find an answer to the question – ‘Is the Indian VFX industry ready to take on the international markets?’ If we take any recent Hollywood release, there are chances that one would find a few Indian names in the credit rolls of the VFX section. 

With audiences now watching Indian content globally via OTT platforms and bigger releases, and Indian content having to compete for eyeballs with content from across the globe, the needs of Indian productions are rivaling those from anywhere. We use the same talent force for a project from the U.S. as one from India. The lines are blurring, and that’s what we want to see from a creative perspective. India is already on the map now, isn’t it? It’s now about high-end skills over the next few years!

Next was an insightful discussion on the ‘Making of Minnal Murali. The speakers included Mindstein Studios co-founder and Minnal Murali VFX supervisor and producer The speakers included Mindstein Studios co-founder and Minnal Murali VFX supervisor and producer Andrew Dcrus, film director Basil Joseph, co-writers Justin Mathew and Arun Anirudhan. The session was moderated by INDIA TODAY  former editor Kaveree Bamzai.

The creators shared how they deployed science in creating practical effects in the movie. They gave the audience a scene breakdown of the movie where they used to make the objects move with the help of magnets and motors.

The makers also shared how they spent their budget on VFX, and how they made the scenes as grand as possible with practical effects. They also lauded the contribution of Tovino Thomas the lead actor in the film who made things possible without using VFX. Dcrus lauded the stunt choreographer and action directors who really worked on pre-visualisation which gave a lot of input to both protagonist and antagonist.

An interesting session in the evening was titled: ‘Building his Kingdom of Dreams.’ The speakers were Famulus founder Suchit Mukherjee, Famulus VFX head Subroto Jalui, and Sky Sound Production CEO Raed Al Nuaimi. The session was moderated by AnimationXpress founder, chairman, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

Kick-starting the conversation, Raed Al Nuaimi answered why is Dubai such a popular destination from filmmakers all over the world. He shared, “Dubai attracts so many filmmakers because of the smoothness of processes and procedures used here. It is one of the reasons why most filmmakers want to come and shoot their films; not to forget the imagery and locations available and the support from the government.”

Sky Sound Production and Famulus Mumbai collaboration brought to the audiences the best of creative and technological solutions. Mukherjee and Jalui played a couple of clips for the viewers to see the visual brilliance their team brought into the making of rides in Dubai Parks and Resorts – RaOne and Final Fantasy VII. It left most of us in awe as to how they come up with such sheer creativity. 

They also shared their experiences of developing projects and designing theme parks and attractions with industry heavyweights like Disney, Universal, DreamWorks, Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures.

The final session of the second edition of VAM Summit was on the Making of Venom: Let There be Carnage byDNEG senior VFX supervisor Michael Grobe who shared the visual effects breakdown of the film. After sharing the breakdown, he spoke about the various challenges his team faced while working on the superhero film.

He shared, “DNEG delivered 750 shots across 20 sequences for Venom: Let There Be Carnage and lead the asset build for all hero assets including Carnage. This was a global show managed by DNEG Vancouver, with work also carried out in London, Montreal, and Mumbai.”

 VAM Summit 2022 was concluded with the prestigious VAM Awards which honors and recognise the magic of the creators behind the immersive, awe-inspiring visuals.

The VAM Summit and Awards was presented by Unreal Engine, co-powered by Technicolor Creative Studios and Yotta. The associate partners were Autodesk, ABAI COE and disguise.