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Creating Celluloid Fantasies

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DQI Bureau
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style="font-weight: bold;">1.

Chandni Chowk to China (CC2C) style="font-style: italic;">--Flying Over Shanghai



It might have been a turkey at the box office, but this Akshay Kumar
starer kung fu comedy that marked Warner Brothers' entry into India had

close to 1500 computer-generated href="http://dqindia.ciol.com/content/dqtop20_09/IndustryAnalyses/2009/109081309.asp">VFX

shots, comprising almost 40% of the film's length, arguably the highest

for any Indian film till date. According to Merzin Tavaria of Prime

Focus, unlike most Bollywood movies, CC2C involved VFX artists from the

very beginning, the special effects scenes being shot simultaneously

with the regular shooting of the film. VFX was deployed in hyper-real

shots (realistic looking but improbable shots) like Akshay Kumar and

Deepika Padukone jumping from a high rise building and floating over

Shanghai city using an umbrella as a parachute; the entire Shanghai

skyline was built in 3D. Logistical difficulties in shooting scenes

like Akshay Kumar hanging from the Great Wall of China also demanded

the use of VFX; also, aerial shooting over Shanghai was impossible as

it was mostly covered with fog. One of the more challenging VFX shots

was the jetty fight sequence, in which the main character unleashes a

Kungfu move called the “Cosmic Kick”. This causes a

huge tidal wave to shoot up out of the water more than 100 feet in the

air - all created by the Prime Focus CG experts.






2.
Raaz—The Mystery Continues
-- style="font-style: italic;">Creating Evil with VFX



Mahesh Bhatt's Raaz 2 was dubbed as Bollywood's most-expensive horror
film—post-production studios href="http://dqindia.ciol.com/content/dqtop20_09/CompanyRanking/2009/109071137.asp">Prime

Focus and href="http://dqindia.ciol.com/content/industrymarket/focus/2008/208042101.asp">FutureWorks

helped with extensive VFX to bring out the movie theme of 'evil within'

the human psyche and how it manifests itself. There was a bull sequence

in the movie where a group of bulls attack Emraan and Kangana's car.

With no permission forthcoming to shoot with the animals, computers

generated bulls after studying their complete movements from head to

tail, muscle reactions, walk cycles, running processes and interaction

with live objects. Maya was used for modeling and animating the bull.

The most thrilling sequence in Raaz 2 was the mirror sequence with

Kangana. The effect of her getting surprised by her ghost and gripping

the audience was a brainstorm. The VFX aspect of the sequence started

where Kangana bends to pick something up and her reflection remains in

the mirror. Later, fog was added to the glass created because of the

steam coming from the hot water and after the fog gathered, the water

droplets were created to add realism to the mirror and shots. Even the

factory shown in the film was completely created on CG. That involved a

lot of Matte painting, which is a painted representation of a

landscape, set, or distant location that allowed director

Mohit Suri to create the illusion of an environment that would

otherwise be too expensive to build or visit.






3.
Paa
-- style="font-style: italic;">The Aura of Auro



If you thought that prosthetics was all that went behind making Paa,
think again. As was the trend in Bollywood in 2009, Prime Focus

delivered 664 VFX shots and full DI for this sensitive Amitabh Bachchan

starrer dealing with progeria. There were close to 400 shots in the

film where the make-up needed to be digitally touched up frame by frame

to create a seamless look of Auro's head matching the skin tone of the

prosthetic with the real skin tone. Extensive rotoscoping was carried

out on these shots followed by color correction to get the final

seamless look. The unconventional and realistic storyline necessitated

extensive VFX use mainly for a lot of prosthetic makeup augmentation on

Auro and an array of TV news channel PIPs. The VFX team designed the

look for the various news channels including logos, ticker bands and

breaking news. They were then composited on to various screens across

all types of locations, mainly homes, offices and business

establishments. The look for various television screens like LCD

panels, CRTs and older televisions were kept in mind when the various

looks were assigned. VFX was used to present the three looks the film

encompassed—the past, which revolves around Abhishek

Bachchan's and Vidya Balan's love story, for which a nice romantic feel

was given; the present, which had to be a little bleached and

desaturated;  and the climax sequence, which was a highly

emotional shot in the hospital, for which the palette was set to cold

and soft.






4.
Tum Mile
-- style="font-style: italic;">Benchmark of Bollywood

Deluge



Mukesh Bhatt’s Tum Mile takes a calamity that hit Mumbai
during the 2005 monsoons and tries to recreate the horror that the July

26 deluge brought with it. The protagonists played by Emraan Hashmi and

Soha Ali Khan are stuck in the deluge, as is the whole of city and

through their eyes the film tries to convey what Mumbaikars went

through when time ceased to move. According to Abhishek De of

FutureWorks, it was important for the VFX to look as though they were

shot on real location on that rampageous day in the middle of actual

weather conditions and not take on a gimmicky visual-effects look. The

production team used a hi-resolution still camera for shooting

references and frames for creating the matte paintings of the Mumbai

skylines. By shooting in digital hi-resolution format, they could

capture a lot of actual life like details; to support the hi-resolution

matte paintings with the number of atmospheric and particle effect

layers, the studio then had to work on the latest Flame machines. The

skyline was recreated with atmospheric effects of looming clouds and

lightning and for tracking the studio used boujou, PF track, flaming

tracker and a proprietary photogrammetry toolset. Mumbai's deluge story

failed to move Mumbai or the rest of India (probably the simultaneous

release with 2012 affected it), but it became the VFX benchmark for

Bollywood disaster movie.






5.
Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani
--Ghazab

FX For Ajab Prem



Riding high on its box office success, this Ranbir – Katrina
starrer got excellent response for its hilarious script, the

performances and its entertaining and lively jokes. But being more than

just staple Bollywood masala, the flick had some extraordinary VFX

executed by Prime Focus. Sequences like the spinning effects, set

extensions, chroma key shots, the laddoo sequence, electrocution shots

and water coming out of Ranbir’s mouth and ears blend

seamlessly with the film and add a little more value to the feel of the

movie. The shot where Katrina holds Lilliput in her hand was shot in

two different layers. Layer one was Katrina picking up a hanger, while

the second layer consisted of the actor rigged with wires flying in the

air. Later both these layers were merged, the wire and hanger were

cleaned-up and the background was replaced with a matte painting. The

scene where Ranbir-Katrina’s gang travels in Goa on a car was

actually shot in a studio against a chroma background. The task was to

key out the net which Katrina was wearing. Apart from compositing,

motion blur was also added to the background to give a seamless look

and feel to the background and the shot. In another shot, when the

villains fell in a pool, Katrina puts an electric wire in the pool and

all of them get electric shocks. The VFX team added CG sparks over the

body of actors which made the electrocution look real.






6.
Delhi 6
-- style="font-style: italic;">Merging Chandni Chowk

with Times Square



Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra's Delhi-6 might have failed to woo the audience
at the box office, but if one were to talk about the VFX work in the

movie--done by a couple of Indian studios, Prasad EFX  of

Chennai and Prana Studios of Mumbai--the effort is really commendable.

The terrace shots of Delhi 6 were shot in the Jaipur sets. The biggest

challenge for Prasad EFX in this was extending the genetic terraces,

building the geo landmarks of the area like the Jama Masjid, Red Fort

and the Hindu temple with their respective geographical positions. The

VFX supervisor Craig Mumma created a 360 degree Delhi geo environment

in 3D with the Delhi terrace photographs. Then the shots were tracked

and geos were placed in their respective positions. About 164 terrace

extension shots were executed by EFX for this film. The heaven sequence

shots were designed on the basis of the real Delhi terrace with

heavenly white look. Prana Studios worked on about 50-odd shots,

primarily the New York sequences. The inside Taj Mahal sequence was

actually shot in green matte owing to permission issues and was later

composited with the actual Taj and manipulated backgrounders. The

entire cow birth sequence was shot in green matte. The challenge

involved 3D tracking of these shots, matching static BG plates. The

Prasad EFX team stitched the Bgs in 3D, composited the environment and

matched them to the shots.






7.
Aladin
-- style="font-style: italic;">Genie's Khwaish Creation



Story of Aladin is legendary and the characters of Genie and Jasmine
known worldwide. Film maker Sujoy Ghosh lets his imagination run wild

and spins a tale that ends up relating the past, present and future of

these characters. No wonder, Amitabh Bachchan turns out to be true rock

star in this VFX-filled entertainer (over 1600 VFX shots), though it

could not cause enough movement in the turnstiles.  The magic

elements of the film are obvious important VFX shots but the sets are

made many times larger by the use of invisible work, difficult to spot

for lay viewers. The visuals created by Charles Darby are quite unique

in Bollywood annals, especially the ones where Big B is shown repenting

about his misdeed followed by lightning taking away his powers. The

flashback sequence is extremely well done too while reminding of 'fall

in the deep' as evidenced in the Hollywood flick Journey To The Center

Of The Earth. Most of the film is shot against a green wall which makes

Aladin quite heavy on VFX with the imaginary world of 'Khwaish' create

by EyeQube Studios giving a visual appeal to the film. The entire shot

of Genie appearing was generated in CG. The special moments includes a

donkey’s head replacing that of Riteish’s, his

guitar turning into a frog and he being thrown in the air either after

turning into a balloon or due to electrocution.






8.
De Dana Dan
-- style="font-style: italic;">Creating The Flooding Hole



Visual effects were needed for a key scene in Priyadarshan's De Dena
Dan where the main characters  (Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty,

Paresh Rawal, Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy) cause the flooding of an

entire luxury hotel (Pan Pacific Hotel), with water surging through all

levels of the tall modern structure. Since flooding a real hotel was

clearly not feasible, Red Chillies VFX decided to get their feet wet

with Houdini, using its fluid tools to add water without the fear of

drowning the production team. In the shot, the audience has a

bird’s-eye vantage point of the hotel, overlooking its modern

triangular shaped atrium. Each floor needed to be overtaken with fast

moving water complete with suitcases and hotel guests getting whisked

away in the wet mess. Much of the water also needed to cascade over the

sides of each floor. According to Harry Hingorani, VFX Production

Director at Red Chillies, the top five floors which are closest in view

were set up with multiple water layers moving at various speeds in

order to make the shot look realistic. The layers included a base water

layer, a surface foam layer and then a layer for foam at the edges as

it meets with walls and objects floating in the water. The climactic

flooding sequence was graded using the latest version of

Lustre—the software's color-grading, keying, tracking, and

automated dust-busting tools greatly assisted the DI project flow.






9.
Blue
-- style="font-style: italic;">Raising the Bar for

Bollywood



The allegedly costliest ever Bollywood movie had little to show for
itself except amazing underwater and marine sequences in Bahamas

(leaving aside the amazingly toned body of Lara Dutta in a skimpy

bikini), thanks again to more than 1200 shots that passed through VFX

pipeline at Prime Focus. According to VFX supervisor Reupal Rawal, this

big budget visual effects wonder allowed a great deal of latitude for

aesthetic creativity in plenty of fabulous VFX shots. For the

underwater shark fight sequence, the VFX team studied the shark action

and a lot of textures and skin reaction to light. The behavioral

elements of the fish such as their dispersal when the shark and Akshay

come towards it were also considered. The shark was shot live along

with Akshay. However in one shot of the same scene Sanjay Dutt puts his

hand in the water and a shark emerges from the water almost biting his

hand off. This was achieved by generating a CG shark. The model and

texture was painstakingly detailed but the real challenge was to get

the wet feel of the skin and have the water rolling off the body of the

shark. The bike actions (both in Bangkok and Bahamas) too had a lot of

conventional wirework and some dangerous stunts which needed the help

of compositing to achieve a convincing shot. But within all that action

there were a few 100 % CG shots. One such sequence was of Zayed and the

goons riding bikes, landing on a running train and turning them. The

shots required one of the goons to actually crash right onto a moving

train and have his body slide near the camera to highlight the drama.

This shot was achieved by generating a CG double of the character.


















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