'Indian VFX industry needs Hollywood supervision, education'
New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) The $2-billion Indian movie industry is conducive to the growth of visual effects and good education and right guidance from Hollywood specialists will work wonders for it, says international VFX expert Peter Chiang, who has worked on films like "John Carter" and "The Bourne Ultimatum".
"I believe India will grow and become a viable option for VFX work as they gain more experience and tackle more projects. You have the aid of a very creative film industry within your country," Chiang told IANS in an e-mail interview.
VFX means creating such scenes with the help of computers that cannot be set up or shot on camera. The concept has become prominent in Indian films only in the past few years. With projects like "Robot" and "RA.One", both made at a budget of Rs.100 crore, the Indian film industry has shown promising growth on the front.
But it has a long way to go, says Chiang, who visited VFX companies in India way back in 2007.
"Because your film industry is the biggest in the world, I see more directors exploring the use of visual effects. It is important for India to attract Hollywood supervisors to teach the Indian VFX industry their work methods, and for the industry to adapt the methods for their own purposes," he said.
The key to growth also lies in due education.
"This is a vital step for the industry to grow. Youth are the blood of the future and it is important to present to them the possibilities so that they can make a conscious decision to try and study VFX. Again Hollywood supervisors should be attracted to lecture in colleges so that they can pass on their experiences," added Chiang.
As opposed to Hollywood, which splurges on its visual effects, Indian filmmakers are wary of the risks involved.
The ratio is wide and visible -- if the makers of "Avatar" spent Rs.1,100 crore ($230 million) on the sci-fi thriller, Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan's "RA.One", said to be Bollywood's most expensive affair so far, had to pack everything into a budget of over Rs.100 crore.
However, filmmakers should rise above budget constraints, suggested Chiang, saying: "Budgets always limit the scope of VFX shots, but it is the inventiveness that makes a small amount of budget stretch into the right areas. The design is always key to meeting the creative, using the right technology for the right amount of money."
The situation of the VFX industry is not all that gloomy in India.
Studios like Prime Focus and Reliance Mediaworks have worked on international films like "New Moon", "GI Joe" and "Harry Potter" franchise and earned good revenue.
Nevertheless, "the need for education as well as the need to attract supervisors to show them how it is done" is indispensable, according to Chiang, who believes it is getting tougher to fool the audience by the day.
"Audiences are now much more savvy to the way visual effects are created and it is becoming harder to trick them. What this means is that VFX companies need to stay one step ahead of the audience, pushing the boundaries to produce more amazing images.
"It also creates a very high standard for the work and more competition," explained Chiang, thereby asserting the rate at which the Indian VFX industry must grow.
As per the FICCI-KPMG 2011, VFX and post-production segments grew 42 percent and 17 percent in the total of the Rs.23.6 billion worth industry for 2011. And it is now poised for better growth.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)