Vaaraahi Chalana Chitram
VFX Indian movie.
Interview for Cinefex magazine
Autor: Konstantine Meerov. Original article (Russian language).
Still some twenty five-thirty years ago the Indian cinema in our country competed in popularity with equal terms not only with Hollywood, but even with the Soviet cinema products. Cheerful movies with bright music scenes and always happy-ends collected full cinemas. "The dancer of the disco" which was looked by more than 60 million audience was the best-known Indian picture those years. For comparison: "Avatar" - the cash champion in the contemporary history of the Russian and the former federal republics film service – estimated only less than 18 million cinema-goers.
Now Indian movies practically don’t reach screens of the Russian movie theaters, which, as well as in the majority of the countries of the world, prefer to show the movies-attractions made commercially by the Hollywood dreams factory. And it is necessary to admit that fight with Hollywood for the viewer who has become more young, the Russian and European cinematographers lost on their territories with the devastating account. But it concerns Europe and Russia - in India and, for example, Japan the national cinema is still interesting to the viewer more than the transatlantic. Especially it concerns India which film industry makes several times more movies, than Americans and Europeans together. It is important that Bollywood keeps up to date and releases movies in bright packing with a good sound and decent visual effects, without forgetting also about dancing turns. So it would be absolutely natural for modern Indian cinema to show battle of the hero with the robot in one scene, and to let it, or even both, in a dance in the following episode. Hindus are very careful with their traditions even during an era a web 2.0 and dominations of digital technologies. There is full order with the last one - there are fair quantity of studios of computer graphics opened over the last ten years, but sometimes they are compelled to give parts of work to other countries because of economic and creative reasons.
video: vfx breakdown
Ulitka and «Eega»
The Moscow computer graphics studio Ulitka participated in creation of the fresh Indian blockbuster "Fly" (2012) with the budget of 300 million rupees (about $5,5 million). "We were contacted absolutely casually — art director Evgeny Gittsigrat tells. – Someone from the Indian colleagues visited Ulitka studio’s site and looked at our showreel which included character animation works for movies "Wanted" (rats) and "It wasn’t better the brother" (bees). They were very pleesed with what they’ve seen, so they decided to arrive to Moscow to get acquainted with us, to see how we work and in general to be convinced that Ulitka – is serious studio". Main VFX vendor on project was Indian studio Makuta, which management gave more than 120 shots of film on outsourcing to the Moscow experts. "We did all scenes turnkey — VFX supervisor and head of department of computer graphics Alexander Sknarin tells. – From the customer there were only comments and administrative work on the shots given to us". By the way, the plot of Bollywood "Fly" slightly reminds the well-known Hollywood movie "Ghost" with Patrick Swayze.
"As far as I know — Alexander Sknarin continues — producers even licensed the Hollywood scenario. In the Indian picture hero also have been killed and then he comes back to revenge the murderer and to protect his beloved from it. But only in Bollywood version main character is not a ghost, but a fly. He has no time to revive as human as such reincarnation means a growing, and to become a room fly is quicker and more simply. So Hindus shot the movie taking into account their own cultural features". Artists and animators of Ulitka studio were engaged in an episode in which the villain asks the magician to bewitch two sparrows for elimination of an annoying fly. Sparrows were created by means of computer graphics. On a plot they pursued a fly about the room, but every time the insect managed to slip out and compel an evil ghosts to abandon birds. "We generally worked with filmed material — Alexander Sknarin tells — but some shots were happened to make completely in 3D. So we created and animated not only characters, but also surrounding reality. The program complex Autodesk Maya was our main software for modeling and animation, for a texturing MARI was used, images was visualized in Pixar Renderman, and assembly done in Nuke".
Feathers of birds were generated using a Chevelure plug-in, written under Autodesk Maya and Pixar Renderman for generation and rendering of hair. Initially this module was developed as the internal tool of studio (UlHair). Since 2008 fork of the project under the name Chevelure developed as an independent commercial product of developer Dmitry Robustov. "One of main reason to develop our own system of hair generation became rather low productivity and absence of the important opportunities simplifying the solution of specific tasks in existing commercial solutions — Evgeny Gittsigrat continues. — Chevelure (and its early ulHair version) was applied by Ulitka studio to creation of computer graphics in movies "Wanted", "Interceptor", "And there was no better brother", and also in a large number of commercials. Besides, the forks made at different times and Chevelure plug-in itself were successfully used and continue to be applied in projects of other studios, such as "Wolfhound” (DrPicture), "Belka and Strelka" (ЦНФ Anima), "Masha and a Bear" (Animakkord)".
видео: модель воробья
In addition during visualization the shader of own development was used. "UlitkaPlastic shader — development of our studio — tells Evgeny Gitsigrat. — It is a big combination of various notes. He allows to adjust any material, beginning from human skin and finishing metal. The shader is capable to give out 15 channels, plus to it a large number of masks. Also normal pass, occlusion and shadows are included in the package". "Except an episode with birds we got initially — Evgeny Gittsigrat continues — we took part in work on couple of tens shots with a fly. This model was sent to us by the Indian colleagues who set it up under Mental ray. We have a small render-farm, only 20 nodes therefore the hours-long rendering of model pleased us not, and we adapted a fly under rendering in Renderman. Hindus very much liked result therefore they sent us some additional scenes for a render". "On visualization of a fly with Mental Ray with hair and motion blur went sometimes up to eight hours — Alexander Sknarin supplements — in Renderman one shot rendered about 15-20 minutes. Thus shots was notable for complexity because an insect showed as macro plan, with defocus, motion blur and with addition of geometrical specification (displacement mapping)".
The production group constructed scenery of the apartment of the eccentric film villain. But there was no option to shoot circular panoramas in these scene, therefore cinematographers also decided to finish such shots on the computer. For example, artists of Ulitka studio replaced a ceiling because lights which was mounted over all the ceiling often got into frame. "Model of a ceiling was created also in Autodesk Maya — Alexander Sknarin speaks. – It took a long enough to approve - because the apartment of the main villain, the designer by profession, the art director issued in a certain style with a complex combination of the Indian and European esthetics". In one of scenes the fly, pursued by mad sparrows, flies over a bar counter and flies about the placed bottles and glasses. "At same moment were decided to model all the ware in 3D — Alexander Sknarin tells. – Director of cinematography filmed an empty bar counter. Subsequently the director wanted to give to the camera other movement therefore it was necessary to address to means of computer graphics. As it was almost macro with strong defokus, we didn’t need to model a scene in 3D entirely, it was sufficient to create a panorama from the photos made in advance on a stage which projected on the geometry, the elements of scenery recreated in graphics".
About interaction with Hindus. During shootings of these episodes on a stage all the time there was a supervisor of Ulitka studio Alexander Sknarin. "No difficulties in sence of communication arose — Alexander Sknarin tells — because all Indian cinematographers who make decisions, speak English. Besides they have a wide film-making experience as the film industry in India improbably powerful, and faultless subordination — if necessity of filming something in addition to finish shooting for effects arose - such opportunity of the colleague was given without problems. As a rule we made a shooting then I had on the average half an hour on shooting of reference-photos, light tests, carrying out measurements and so on".
Before filming Alexandr Sknarin had a meeting with director of a movie and discussed each shot with VFX. Episode, on what Ulitka artists was working on was previously previsualised in moscow studio «Basa», but further animatic was cardinally redone, and aclually filmed frames very different from that was decided initially in previs. «If in shooting time there was no any difficulties, — shares his experience Sknarin, — but on post-production stage we faced with features of Indian cinema production. Looks like Indian directors are most productive in a world. «Eega» director — S.S. Rajamouli, who now very popular in India, is making about five movies in parallel, so he not always physiacally could comment our work in time. Finally it took 9 month (instead of initially planned 6). But anyway as result our customers was hapy and movie had great succes in India».
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+7 495 691 64 98