VFX takes centrestage in Bollywood with Yashraj Films‘ Dhoom 2

Abhishek Bachchan. Hrithik Roshan. Aishwarya Rai. Bipasha Basu. Uday Chopra! The hottest movie of 2006, Dhoom 2 boasts of a sizzling hot star cast! And adding smoke to the sizzle is VFX, one of the `Heroes` of the Dhoom Franchise. The VFX produced, supervised and executed by Visual Computing Labs (TATA Elxsi) promises to take Indian FX to the next level and that`s quite an accelerated growth for VFX in the country this year with some stellar work being turned out by various Indian studios in movies including Rang De Basanti, Don, JaaneMan, KANK and the like. Yashraj films Dhoom 2 features a staggering 40 minutes (in a 147 minute feature) of power packed VFX and for VFX house VCL, this project is one of VCL`s biggest Indian feature projects for the Indian market to date, in terms of scope, length of work and complexity. The FX include high-level compositing, 3D Virtual `Set` creation, 3D character animation, CG model building and some of the most complex wire and rig removal ever. Besides there was a great amount of 3D pre visualization carried out for the action stunts galore. The movie is expected to be one of the slickest and most well-packaged movies Indian movies ever, on par with Hollywood action thrillers. Hrithik Roshan will be seen roller-blading, skydiving, sand boarding, snow boarding, jumping off a cliff (with Aishwarya) and various other extreme sports in this movie. This movie is dubbed into Telugu and Tamil Languages and ready for release on same day as Hindi version. Explaining Tata Elxsi`s role in detail, Pankaj Khandpur, Creative Director, Visual Computing Labs, Tata Elxsi, said, “In collaboration with the director, action director, and cinematographer, the team in the Visual Computing Labs actually converted traditional paper-based storyboards into real-time, full length 3D animated sequences, which were then edited to give the director and action director an exact sense of all of the action. Camera information, angles and lenses were available to the cinematographer before he actually shot the scenes. The process was spread over a year, and no sequence was shot until all parties signed-off on the pre- visualization. Thus, exact cinematic impact and length was known before the shoot, resulting in huge production savings for the producers of the film” “The `Fort Heist` sequence in the first-half of the film is notable in that there was no fort at the time of shoot! A small 16 ft x 16 ft terrace, 12 ft high was the only set actually built; VCL`s team then virtually `created`, in CG, the entire palace, fort and walls that appear in the entire sequence, and added them digitally to the live-action. The `city` that appears far below the fort is also a digital creation, adding depth and size to the entire sequence. Thus, Aishwarya`s 200 ft climb up to the top of the fort was actually a climb of 12 ft, and the final Hrithik/Aishwarya leap out over a 300 ft drop to the city far below, was also a safe 12 ft drop! Once again, huge savings on set building. VCL is proud to have pioneered this `virtual-set` methodology for Indian Cinema” added Khandpur. Other interesting VFX samples in D2 is the creation in CG, of some of the `gadgets` used in the film: the robotic arm from the remote-controlled miniature `car` that steals the diamond (including the diamond!), is computer-generated, as are the `mechanical` insects that are released to create a diversion during the `Coin-Heist` in the second half of D2. The `wire person-puller` and `magnetic attacher` as wrist-gadgets were also a combination of real and CGI imagery! K. Chandrasekhar, General Manager, Visual Computing Labs, Tata Elxsi Ltd. stated, “We are delighted at this opportunity to bring in some of the techniques and art that we have been using for our Hollywood projects in an Indian movie. The work undertaken on Dhoom 2 is unsurpassed in every area i.e. pre-visualization, 3D Virtual `Set` creation & character animation, CG model building and wire and rig removal.” An interesting last-minute inclusion was the CGI helicopter rotor-blades on the police chopper that lands in front of the tunnel in the climax. The actual helicopter model was a scale wooden dummy, with huge rotor-blades that fell off because of their weight, just before the shoot could begin. VCL then created the rotor-blades for all the shots, including the one where Hrithik and Aishwarya leap on their bike over whirling helicopter blades, and just miss them, dangerously close the catch here is there were no rotor-blades at the time of shoot. Apart from countless sparks, gunshots, smoke, metal-eating CG `acid` that helped Hrithik make a getaway via a manhole, VCL worked on over 200 of the most complicated wire-removal and rig-removal shots ever; wires and rigs that `helped` all characters perform their `death-defying`action acts, be it leaping over cliffs, bursting out of man-holes, jumping into deep waterfalls, performing atop moving trains, fighting while parachuting, leaping on bikes across boats, cars, helicopters, and roller-blading at high speeds across the streets of Bombay. Stay tuned to Animation Xpress.com as we get to you some exclusive case studies and interviews with India`s VFX wizards who are heralding a new era as Bollywood goes digital! connect@animationxpress.com

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