Hollywood VFX Expert Phaneendra Gullapalli at AISFM

IMG_2260

AISFM had a Master Class with Mr. Phaneendra Gullapalli, a Hollywood VFX expert, and a member of the team that won an Oscar for the Hollywood film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for visual effects. Phaneendra  has also worked on visual effects for movies like 2012, Mummy-III, Transformers-II, Tron: Legacy, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and many more. Students enjoyed the interactive and engaging session with the expert greatly.

IMG_2331

Speaking about his journey from Vijayawada to Hollywood, he recounted how he fell in love with animation & visual effects early on in his life. He kept pursuing his passion inspite of being rejected four times for internships at famous Hollywood studios. The secret to his sustenance and success? He says “One third of your life is spent at your workplace and I didn’t want to pursue something that I was not happy with. I wanted to pursue my passion, so I took up animation. Some people give up after a setback. I didn’t because there is a thin line between winning and losing.”

What level of artistic instincts and capabilities, and how much technical skills should a person have, asked a student to which he said that “it is good to have both backgrounds if possible; artists and technologists together is a good combination.”

IMG_2287

Speaking about the process of visual effects in a typical film, he gave a walkthrough of his role of expertise in the process of filmmaking. He demonstrated how with Halon virtual camera, wherein you shoot your film before you shoot your film live. This method was used on projects like Bahubali, where by this previsualizataion, lot of production cost can be saved as the director can pre-emptively make changes to his visualization, rather than trying out his ideas on expensive sets.

IMG_2286---Copy

‘When do you come into the picture?’ was another question posed. “VFX and post production are collaborators right from Stage 1 and on a daily basis,” he said and cited an example of Bahubali, “We would shoot 10 to 12 shots for the scene and Director Rajamouli would pick one for the final scene.”

Talking about the role of a VFX supervisor, he said that he ensures that each scene is shot as per the requirement. “In Mummy III, the green screen was blue instead of green, so it is the supervisor’s job to ensure such things don’t happen.”

IMG_2275

Phaneendra also shared tips and tricks used in the industry and said that to tackle the challenges of lighting conditions, a chrome ball can be used and software like Nuke, Maya or Houdini. Talking about the work culture in Hollywood, he said “the culture is a lot different in Hollywood and there is no hierarchy per se but it is more about the role/job description of each individual on the team.”

IMG_2272

What happens towards the end of a shoot, how does an editor receive the scenes? To this, he said that actors have reference points and so do the VFX artists. “For example in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, we wanted to show an old man’s body and Brad Pitt’s face, so we shot two different portions of the same scene and Brad’s face was superimposed on it.” He went on to add that directing actors is also a fundamental requirement for VFX artists and said “In Mummy III, there is a scene where the demon is holding a sword, to make it more powerful, we made the hand holding the sword shake, which was the improvisation of the VFX artist.”

Sharing his thoughts on the current entertainment industry in India, which is growing at a rapid pace, he said, “These are certainly exciting times as the industry is evolving with new platforms for storytellers like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Example: Mr Rajamouli embraced virtual reality on his last feature film Bahubali2 and you can check it out here http://baahubali.com/vr/

IMG_2315

Content vs Technology, your take on the right balance required to succeed?  To this, he said, “Working on various tent-pole Hollywood feature films I have learnt that story is paramount. Every Hollywood director that I worked with used technology as a tool to create visual experiences that stand out which I believe is striking the right balance.”

What is your favorite movie in terms of animation/VFX and in the ones that he has worked? For this, he shared, “I’ve spend almost two years of my life working on Tron Legacy which is no doubt my favorite feature film till date that I worked on.”

Sharing his thoughts about AISFM and its facilities, Phaneendra said, “I’m impressed with AISFM’s facilities during my tour and believe AISFM is second to none. AISFM is in good hands with Mr. Bala Raj steering the ship with his phenomenal Hollywood industry & academic experience. I hope students will leverage the AISFM’s facilities, resources and personnel.”

IMG_2323

His advice to aspiring professionals in this field, “Focusing on foundations and fundamentals will enable students to adapt to the ever evolving industry and help them be at the forefront at any given time. For example: Virtual Production never existed prior to feature films like Avatar and today it’s pretty much the standard and integral part of film-making process.”

Closing the master class, Phaneendra gave some words of advice, “Job opportunities in other areas like virtual reality and augmented reality are now there to connect to the consumers. If you are up to speed with these latest technologies, then you have more chances. There are lot of applications in diverse areas – like Apple X has IR tech etc. The gaming industry is also garnering a lot of interest, and training in these areas is a good idea.” He further added, “Networking and working hard is very important and of course there is no stopping to your learning curve.”

IMG_2295

Things You Didn’t Know About The Minions!

dm

Minions, minions everywhere! The minions of Despicable Me have become so popular that it spawned its very own movie. You see them everywhere, all over social media feeds, T-shirts, toys, you name it!

Playing a lead role in the movies is Pierre Coffin, the director, who voiced all the hundreds of minions in the movie. There are so many minions serving Gru in the Despicable Me movies that it would be impossible to actually stop and count each individual one. But, if you had to, you would find out that there are actually 899 minions. This is just one of the facts packed into this article!

director

Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known about Minions. We expose Gru’s mischievous, fun-loving, goggled little helpers and the secrets behind their creation. Read on to find out facts that you most likely never knew about Kevin, Bob, Stuart and the rest of their banana loving, overall-wearing crew.

  • What exactly is the ‘Minionese’ language? Well, it is actually a mash up of multiple languages and not just gibberish. Some languages featured are English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Filipino and Italian. Most o the words that they say actually are names of foods in different languages.
  • The minions developed their eclectic language because they are ‘supposed’ to be an ancient and prehistoric race that has served various masters from around the world for centuries.
    dm4
  • Some words in the minion language are taken from Bahasa Indonesia. For example, “kemari” and “terima kasih” mean “come here” and “thank you,”
  • A minion from one of the movie’s early trailers says, “C’est banana. Miam miam!” after picking up a banana. That’s French for “It’s a banana. Yummy!”
  • Kevin frequently uses the phrase “se pa la.” It’s also a Spanish expression that means “who knows.” The minions also say “gracias,” which means “thank you” in Spanish. Interestingly enough, the minions say “thank you” in multiple languages throughout the movie.
    dm1
  • A sign that says “Abbey Road” is a reference to The Beatles’ 1969 album, Abbey Road. The album’s artwork is also referenced when the minions walk across the street.
  • Sandra Bullock generally plays a nice role in her movies, but this is the first movie that she’s depicted as a villain. She is the voice of Scarlett Overkill.
  • The movie is set in 1968, or 42 years BG, which means “Before Gru.” What happened in 2010? The first Despicable Me was released, when the minions made their debut.
  • In order to sound a lot more accurately like how Mr. Perkins would normally sound, Will Arnett put on weight! Talk about dedication!
    dm2
  • In this scene from The Lorax, if you look closely, you’ll find a minion inside a junk drawer!
  • Did you know that the number Gru used to contact Lucy is actually a real phone number?
  • Look closely at Gru’s collection of paintings and you will see that there are a lot of famous paintings in his collection! These paintings were most likely obtained by stealing, back when he was still a bad guy. Some of the paintings in his house include The Mona Lisa and A Starry Night.
    dm3
  • The minions were supposed to be the same size as humans or even bigger, but due to budget issues, they had to scrap the idea and create smaller versions of what was planned. This turned out better for them as the little minions were a huge hit!
  • Sleepy Kittens story in the movie that Gru was forced to read for the kids as they go to sleep became very popular and the same book was turned into a real children’s story that was published around the world.
  • As seen is the first movie, Gru’s speed dial list had the names Dave and Stuart, two of his minion workers.
    dm5
  • Following the immense success and gigantic popularity of the two-eyed and one-eyed creatures, a spin off movie was made for the minions and the latest one Despicable Me 3 released in 2017.
  • The minions’ design was inspired by the Jawas from Star Wars and the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
  • All the minions are male and have been given standard English-style names. Dave, Carl, Kevin, Steve, Phil, Jerry, Tim, Bob, Lance, Stuart and Norbert are just a handful of the ones that have been mentioned by name.
  • Stuart, Kevin and Bob, the three main minions featured in the new film, were designed to resemble the traits of Gru’s daughters, Edith, Margot and Agnes.
  • Purple equals bad, yellow equals good. Evil Minions are purple because purple and yellow are opposite to each other on the colour spectrum. Yes, here good and evil minions are literally exact opposites. Evil minions were inspired by old Looney Toons cartoons where Tweety Bird would drink a potion and turn into a monster.
    dm6
  • The minions were designed to have only five different hairstyle options, one of which is completely bald and every tall Minion has the same sprouty hairdo.
  • The directors originally had created minions to help make Gru more likeable for audiences and surround him with childishness and incompetence.
  • Minions only have three fingers packed into those little black gloves.
  • Despite several hundred minions existing, there are only about 48 possible design combinations of height, build, hair, and eyes of the minions.
  • Unlike most evil masterminds, Gru genuinely likes the minions, shows appreciation for their work and somehow knows every one by name.

Things you didn’t know about Bahubali!

blog_header_3

Bahubali, a movie that has created and rewritten history in the annals of Indian cinema and how! The most awaited film, SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus Bahubali: The Conclusion surely kept its word as the biggest film made on Indian celluloid and the massive, stupendous and record-breaking response it received on its opening weekend is more than valid proof enough. It has strengthened its hold at the box office like never before and cooked up a storm, witnessing a mad rush at the ticket counters with numbers reaching new heights by the day.

Did you know that the magnum opus, entered the Rs 100 crore club on its release day and no other Indian film has ever entered the Rs 100-crore club on its opening day. It was also the widest ever worldwide release in close to 9000 screens, no less! Want to know more about the epic movie, then read on to find out about the things you didn’t know about Bahubali!

blog_header_7

  • Bahubali: The Beginning and the sequel Bahubali 2: The Conclusion together are the most expensive Indian movies ever made, with an approximate budget of nearly 450 crore.
  • Out of 100 years of Indian cinema Bahubali is the only movie to be featured in a BBC documentary. And The Rise of Sivagamiis one of the books of Bahubali fiction trilogy.
  • More than 800+ technicians, including the special effects team of Jurassic world, were hired for the making of the movie. Bahubali involved a lot of complex computer-generated imagery (CGI) and VFX shots which comprise almost 90% of the movie, that is about 4,500-5,000 VFX shots in 3 hours!
  • Prabhas worked with his local trainer to build his body. He visited the US and interacted with WWE wrestlers to understand their training regimen. He was so impressed with the infrastructure that he got the equipment, costing INR 1.5 crore, and built a personal gym imitating the set-up of the WWE wrestlers.
    blog_header_6
  • Prabhas would work out for 6 hours daily and start training early in the morning. His regime would start with about one-and-a-half hours of cardio, with focus on muscle building. In the evenings, to strengthen his body muscles, he would lift weights for about one-and-a-half hours.
  • Prabhas gained a whopping 20 kilos for his part as Amarendra Bahubali and his diet consisted of fish, egg whites (40 half boiled eggs and egg whites), vegetables and almonds. The actor would eat a meal every two hours, and had a total of six meals every day, which did not include rice. The total calorie intake of Prabhas while shooting for Bahubali was between 2000 to 4000 calories a day!
  • Prabhas did not sign a single movie for the past three years so that he could focus on Bahubali and sink into the feel of it.
  • It is the only Indian movie to be made in 4D and many of the movie halls had to adjust their projectors just to show this movie on their screens.
    blog_header_4
  • This is the first Indian war movie which has stood in the category of Hollywood war movies such as Troyand 300.
  • This is the first time any regional movie is getting outstanding applause in the world market.
  • The movie took more than three years to get completed and the pre-production and scripting took one year, while the live action shooting took two years. Post production took more than six months.
  • The production crew consisted of 25 National Award Winning artists and technicians.
  • About 20,000 weapons were designed and used in the entire move and it had 50,000+ VFX shots spanning both the parts.
    blog_header_5
  • 110 acres of space was reserved at Ramoji Film City for the shooting of the war scene.
  • Bahubali: The Beginning is the biggest VFX film in Indian film history with around nearly 90% of the final output achieved through various visual effects techniques such as rotoscoping, chroma removal, wire removal, 2D and 3D tracking, matchmoving, color correction, live action shooting and CG (3D Computer Graphics) integration, matte painting, camera projections and compositing.
  • Around 2000 junior artists were in live action shooting.
  • A total of 17 VFX studios and 600+ 3D animation and visual effects artists worked to finish the post production of the movie.
    blog_header_3
  • Bahubali poster entered into Guinness Book of World Records and Limca Book of World Records – the production team held an event in Kerala where they revealed a movie poster measuring 51,968 sq ft and gained entry as the biggest poster of motion picture in both the books.
  • Another record set; SS Rajamouli tweeted on March 17: “50 million cumulative views of our trailer, across all languages, on YT & FB. The most viewed Indian movie trailer in 24hours. #BB2Storm”.
  • The climax of Bahubali: The Conclusion was shot with a whopping budget of Rs. 30 crore, which was almost double the budget of the climax shot of its prequel Bahubali: The Beginning.
  • The waterfall scene in Bahubali – The Beginning that took almost one-third of the total shooting time of the entire film.
    blog_header_1
  • To get their bodies fit for the role they were playing Prabhas and Rana Daggubati were on a strict fitness regime, including diet and workout. They were even trained in martial arts by Vietnamese trainer Tuan. Both actors gained over 30 kilos to get into the skin of their characters.
  • Reportedly, director SS Rajamouli plans to make Bahubali 3.
  • It is said that Rajamouli took about more than 100 days to get the waterfall shot right. Being the most important scene in the movie, the team shot the sequence at three different waterfall locations to give it a grand effect.
  • A new language named ‘KILIKI’ was invented for the terrifying Kalakeya tribe in the movie. A completely new language was developed, with 750 words and 40 grammar rules!
    blog_header_2
  • It will be the first Indian movie to have its own museum. The museum being made will house all the weapons, armours and costumes that the actors sport in the film.
  • ‘Bahubali’ has surpassed ‘300’ in IMDB ratings and is ranked at 9.4 out of 10.
  • A leading ticket-booking website revealed that they sold one Bahubali ticket every 12 seconds, breaking records there too!

Digital Domain: Leading Hollywood VFX Company visits AISFM!

collage1

Digital Domain, is known for VFX on about 200 blockbuster Hollywood movies like “Titanic”, “Maleficent”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “Iron Man 3”, “TRON: Legacy”, “Furious 7”, “Pixels”, “2012” and many more. Providing an exciting new future in storytelling and content creation technology, from Digital Domain; Austin Armus, Director – Business Services Integration, Lala Gavgavian – Vice President, Human Resources/Recruiting/Training, and Sudhir Reddy – Head of Digital Studio (India) were at the campus addressing the students along side Bala Raj (Dean, Academics) and Amala Akkineni (Hon. Director, AISFM).

collage2

The Master Class included the representatives of Digital Domain showing us their work reels as an introduction to display their creative techniques and talking about the content that they have been making. The session then commenced from being an introduction to turning into a informative Q/A between the representatives and the students.

As VFX is one of the most indulged courses at the institute, art/animation enthusiasts were present amongst the students and faculty members. During the Q/A, the concerned representatives, according to their expertise, answered questions put up by the students in depth. With a vast number of movies in their roaster, they have worked with the best of the directors in the industry including Steven Spielberg.

Talking about the rapid pace at which the technology is evolving, Digital Domain mentioned that they fully utilised the potential of the advancement in their equipment, over the years. With High Definition viewing, HD has also paved it’s way for VFX and animated content to be seen by the audiences in HD.

As they plan to expand to India, working alongside the offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver they want to diversify in terms of creativity by having a presence in different countries. Austin also spoke about the scale of planning and collaboration with the director that goes into the pre/post production stage before they start on a film project.

IMG_4492

As technology is advancing day-to-day, Digital Domain tries to keep up with the best technical resources to get the desired output for their films/commercials. As high definition viewing has become necessary for the quality of the product, Digital Domain has expanded to areas of Virtual Reality, and are currently working on movies made especially for VR.

Founded in 1993, Digital Domain is one of the largest and most influential visual effects studios in the world. The company and its artists have produced industry-leading work for movies, commercials, video games, music videos, concerts, and virtual reality projects. The company has been at the forefront of innovation for over two decades and pioneered the creation of internationally famous Digital Performers including Virtual 2Pac (the “Coachella Hologram”) and Teresa Teng. Digital Domain was also a co-producer on the feature film “Ender’s Game”.

During that time, its artists have earned multiple Academy Awards in the Visual Effects and Technical Award categories. Digital Domain has evolved in its artistry to hundreds of commercials, video games, and music videos, from “Become Legend” game trailers, to Nike’s virtual reality “The Neymar Jr. Effect”, to the ground-breaking Ronda Rousey fight trailer “Revolution” for the UFC.

From setups in California and Vancouver, including its own state-of-the-art performance capture studio, Digital Domain continues a tradition of creating extraordinary imagery and productions for entertainment and advertising purposes.

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

The trusted friend, the partner in crime, the inner voice or just the comic relief; whatever their role might be, they’re a very important part of the film. Every hero needs his/her sidekick. We present to you a list of sidekick duos from everybody’s favourite Disney/Pixar films!

  1. Olaf & Sven

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

The adorable snowman and the goofy reindeer from Frozen are the perfect sidekicks. Olaf’s character has a “big role to play representing the innocent love in the scale of fear versus love” says the director of the film. He is first seen as an inanimate snowman during Elsa and Anna’s childhood, and later on when he is recreated by Elsa during ‘Let it go’.

Sven is a carrot loving reindeer who has dog like traits. He is Kristoff’s best friend, conscience and sleigh-puller кредитная карта росбанк. With a childlike outlook on life, he makes a perfect companion to Olaf, who holds a similar personality, allowing the two to bond rather easily.

  1. Flounder & Sebastian

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Sebastian is the royal court composer who is given the task of looking out for Ariel by the king, her father. He is, at most times, grumpy because of Ariel’s stubbornness. Flounder is the total opposite of the crustacean. He is Ariel’s companion for all her adventures in the deep blue. He might be one of the most stressed sidekicks to have been created by Disney, while Sebastian is probably the one with most mood swings. Whatever the case may be for the two, they do not think twice when it comes to helping Ariel when she is in danger.

  1. Genie & Abu

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

According to Disney’s official description, Abu is Aladdin’s pet monkey, who is obsessed with shiny items. Unlike his owner, Abu doesn’t steal for survival, but because he is a kleptomaniac. However he may be on the outside, he has a soft heart and is one of the most loyal and compassionate sidekicks. Genie on the other hand, is an all-powerful spirit residing in a magical oil lamp hidden within the ‘Cave of Wonders’, meant to only serve the “diamond in the rough”. His character is known to break the fourth wall, which is seen when he mimics people from the real-world, outside the universe in which he resides.

  1. Maximus & Pascal

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Pascal is Rapunzel’s chameleon roommate in Mother Gothel’s tower, while Maximum is a Palace horse who at first has a tiff with Flynn Ryder, but later befriends him, thanks to Rapunzel. The duo were created to add comic relief to the film and also act as companions, in whatever form they might be, to the two leading characters. The duo later go on to become ring bearers to the couple at their wedding, in the sequel to Tangled. Pascal and Maximus were very well received by viewers and critics alike, and have even been called ‘scene stealers.’

  1. Cogsworth & Lumière

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Cogsworth and Lumière are two of the helpers many at Beast’s castle, who get turned into a clock and a candelabra respectively, when the castle gets cursed many years ago. Lumière is kind-hearted, liked by all, and has a very charming persona, while Cogsworth is bossy, serious and prefers to abide by the rules stated by the Beast. The contrasting personalities of the two, combined with their loyalty towards the Beast is what makes them well, them!

  1. Timon & Pumbaa

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

A meerkat and warthog friendship might seem like a weird thing for us, but it sure is not in the world of Disney! The two find Simba and save him when he was a cub, and the three remain best friends for life. When somebody says ‘Hakuna Matata’ one automatically relates this to The Lion King; this is all thanks to the duo Timon and Pumbaa. They teach Simba to not worry about little things in life, and live life to its fullest; something we all can learn from the two.

  1. Jaq & Gus Gus

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Cinderella would not have been able to do over half the things that led to her getting the prince of her dreams, were it not for her little helper-friends Jaq and Gus Gus. Jaq is shown to be the somewhat leader of the group of mice. He is sharp, brave and loves troubling the house cat, Lucifer. Gus Gus on the other hand is Jaq’s best friend; he is compassionate, but rather dim-witted. He is the main target of Lucifer, who prefers Gus Gus out of all the mice because of his plump size and slow speed.

  1. Ray & Louis

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

A jazz-loving alligator and a romantic Cajun firefly pair up to help Tiana and Naveen in Disney’s Princess and the Frog. Despite his size and ferocious appearance, Louis is a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He is very fond of his trumpet and his dream is to become a famous jazz singer and perform in front of a human audience without scaring anyone. Friendly and helpful, despite being the smallest creature in the movie, Ray has the biggest heart. Some of his loves include music, singing and entertaining guests of all kind. The firefly was also shown to have no real fear.

  1. Flit & Meeko

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Flit is a ruby-throated hummingbird who is a friend of Pocahontas, along with Meeko, a racoon. Meeko is sly and loves stealing from others, which is rather annoying for Flit. Meeko is Pocahontas’s confidant. The duo adds much-needed excitement and fun to the film, and without the two, the film would have been a tad boring. Flit and Meeko prove that everybody needs a hummingbird and a racoon by their side.

  1. Baloo & Bagheera

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Bagheera is like a guardian for Mowgli while Baloo is like more like a getaway in Disney’s The Jungle Book. Bagheera is presented as level headed and intelligent, while Baloo is presented as aloof and carefree. In spite of his loyalty to his “bare necessities”, Baloo is not above abandoning morals and disregarding the safety of others for himself, or what he believes in. The juxtaposing between the two characters allows Mowgli to combine the traits of both his companions and succeed in defeating Sher Khan.

Special Mention

These Sidekicks are no sidekick!

Seven Dwarfs

Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey are the seven dwarfs. They take pity on Snow White when she tells them the story of how she got into their home, and they allow her to stay on the condition that she would take care of the house in their absence. The dwarfs save the protagonist’s life time and again, indirectly foiling the Evil Queen’s plans to kill her, which is why we feel they deserved a special mention despite not being a ‘duo’.

Beauty and the Beast over the years

featured

The tale of loving somebody for who they are and not for their physical appearance is what French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s fairytale, Beauty and the Beast taught all of us. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont rewrote the story and published it, giving us the story that we hold dearly. Our childhood would seem a little incomplete had this story not been made into the Disney animated film that we all love. This version, thought the most popular, is however not the only adaptation of the tale. With Emma Watson and Dan Stevens starring in the latest version of the fairytale, we thought we’d take a look at the different adaptations of ‘Beauty and the Beast’!

  1. La Belle et la Bête (1946)

belle_et_la_bete_1946
This French version of the traditional fairy tale, written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1757 was directed by French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau; the film stars Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as Beast. This was the first film adaptation of the story. The set designs and cinematography were intended to evoke the illustrations and engravings of Gustave Doré and, in the farmhouse scenes, the paintings of Jan Vermeer.

  1. The Scarlet Flower (1952)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
This film is a 1952 Soviet feature-animated version of the tale. The film is an example of the Socialist Realism period in Russian animation, which lasted from the 1930s to 1950s; it featured heavy use of ‘rotoscoping’ as well as a focus on adapting traditional Russian folk tales. Nearly all of the character animation was first performed by live actors or animals and then traced by the animators. It was restored at the Gorky Film Studio in 1987.

  1. Beauty and the Beast (1962)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
This was the first English language adaptation of the tale! The film was directed by Edward L. Cahn and starred Joyce Taylor and Mark Damon in the lead roles. The film was shot in Technicolour and was a “fairytale for everybody – no messages, no menace,” according to the film’s executive producer, Edward Small.

  1. Beauty and the Beast/Die Schöne und das Biest (1987)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
This was an American/Israeli musical film, part of the 1980 film series Cannon Movie Tales. It is a contemporary version of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. The movie was shot in Israel and popularized the taglines: “The monster they feared was the prince she loved” and “The classic fairy tale about seeing with your heart”

  1. Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
This was the 30th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and the 3rd in the Disney Renaissance period, and the 1st English language animated version of the film. The Disney version also names Beauty “Belle” and gives her a handsome suitor (named Gaston) who eventually plots to kill the Beast. What many do not know about this very popular version of the film is the fact that Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Beauty and the Beast into an animated feature film during the 1930s and 1950s!

  1. Blood of Beasts (2005)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
How would Beauty and the Beast be if it was set during the time of Vikings?! Well, Hollywood has an answer for that in the form of the 2005 film Blood of Beasts. Freya (Beauty), a warrior and the beautiful daughter of a Viking king, is held prisoner on an island castle by a Beast who has been cursed by Oden. The film however has received negative reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes rating it at 24%.

  1. Spike (2008)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
Spike is a gorgeous and haunting meditation on love and death, childhood and fantasy. Director Robert Beaucage’s adaptation can be described as a dark fantasy version of the film set in modern times. The plot of the film goes like this: Through a series of dreamlike images, a girl (Sarah Livingston Evans) and her three friends find themselves stranded in a dark and surrealistic forest by someone; or something (Edward Gusts) who has obsessively loved, watched, and waited for the girl ever since childhood.

  1. Beastly (2011)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
Yet another modern rendition of the film finds its way onto our list. This Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer starrer is also said to be loosely based on Alex Flinn’s supernatural novel of the same name (2007). It tells the age-old tale in a modern-day New York city setting. The story places the basics of the original fairy tale in the context of a contemporary American high school. The film also features Neil Patrick Harris as Kyle’s blind tutor and Mary-Kate Olsen as the girl responsible for cursing Kyle and causing his subsequent transformation.

  1. La Belle et la Bête (2014)

Beauty and the Beast over the years
This is a Franco-German romantic-fantasy version of the traditional fairy tale. Written by Christophe Gans and Sandra Vo-Anh and directed by Gans, the film stars Léa Seydoux as ‘Belle’ and Vincent Cassel as ‘Beast’. The film was nominated for the People’s Choice Award for Best European Film at the 27th European Film Awards. It also received three nominations at the 40th César Awards, winning Best Production Design.

  1. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty_and_the_beast-2017
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens starrer is the next film to join the long history of film adaptations based on this fairy tale, stretching back to the earliest days of cinema. Principal photography began at Shepperton Studios in May 2015, and ended on August 21. The film is to be released on March 17, 2017, in standard, in RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D!

The bare necessities of animation!

blog_header

Ah, the magic of Jungle Book! It is such that it transcends across generations, genres of art or mode of cinema-telling! This classic story by Rudyard Kipling continues to capture the attention of everyone. Whether it was the age-old archetypal book, published in 1893 or the most recent movie version, which has only one actor to its credit in it; the story is truly a marvel and a perfect example of what classics are made of!

The latest offing features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals, a feat of magical animation and technical brilliance. Director Jon Favreau pooled various animating techniques into a faultless, exquisite experience of the jungle. In fact, the animals look so realistic that it is hard to believe that they are, but, computer-generated animals! And by the end of the movie, the animals’ seem as natural as their fur, hide or feathers. The new live action remake is the latest in a long string of reboots, six in total!

The movie recorded a massive $103.6 million opening weekend and has grossed a worldwide total of $776.2 million so far! Talk about appealing across all genres, this one sure hits the mark!

neel-sethi_blog01

The new ‘Mowgli’
The young child actor, Neel Sethi, barely a teen yet, holds the movie strong on his shoulders. The little one who landed a breakout role as Mowgli in the classic tale had also starred in Diwali (2013) earlier. He was selected for the role of Mowgli among thousands who auditioned across the globe.

Did you know that Neel had read the book just before the audition and after reading a part of it; he liked it so much that he bought it from a book fair? Makes us wonder, what would have happened, if he didn’t like the book!

The actor who was born in 2003, the same year that the 1967 film’s direct-to-video sequel The Jungle Book 2 (2003) was released, loves playing football, basketball and baseball and his favourite actress is Priyanka Chopra in real life and Baloo the bear is his favourite character from the movie in reel life.

Unknown details about the latest sensation in Hollywood, here are some interesting ones:

  1. His favourite dish is Lobster Ravioli.
  2. He can throw a perfect spiral with the football that Bill Murray gave him.
  3. His favourite TV show right now is
  4. He can eat all three Hagaan Daz bars that come in the pack, in one sitting!
  5. Uptown Funk is one of his favourite songs.
  6. When he is not in the concrete jungle of NY, he loves being in the Berkshires.
  7. His favourite car is the Lamborghini Countach 25 Anniversary Edition in red!
  8. He got to fly on Mickey Mouses’ private jet.
  9. He has over 100 apps on my cell phone, and he uses almost all of them!
  10. He loves school and hopes to be a dentist one day.

Little known trivia about the movie:

  • The film released in India on April 8th, a week ahead of its U.S. debut, to pay tribute to the Indian environment of the film/novel. The film released in 2016, to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the original Disney animated classic masterpiece The Jungle Book(1967).
  • In the 1967 version, King Louie was an orangutan; in this film, he’s a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan whose range is believed to have included parts of India. This change in species was made to make the film more fantastic and since orangutans are not native to India.
  • While the film is a live-action adaptation of the 1967 version, the filmmakers decided to include elements from the Rudyard Kipling novel to make the film more adventurous and dangerous.
  • The talking animals in this film were created using animal behaviour, then having the actors copy those movements in motion-capture VFX. All the locations in the film are computer-generated VFX.
  • The CG character Baloo is so large and furry; he took almost five hours of rendering time per frame.
  • Ben Kingsley described Bagheera as a militant character; “He’s probably a colonel, he is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is.”
  • Remote jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference for the jungle environment in the film.
  • Whilst the animals are all native to India, Ben Kingsley is the only voice actor to be of South Asian origin as he is ethnically Anglo-Indian.
  • The wolf pups in the film are named after motion capture actors and other crew members.
  • Giancarlo Esposito who voices the wolf Akela, was featured in a commercial for the video game Destiny (2014) where he narrated a part of the poem ‘The Law of the Jungle’. This poem appears in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Second Jungle Book’.
  • Actor Neel Sethi said that since he never actually worked with real animals’ onset during filming, director Jon Favreau would on occasion stand in for where the animals would be present, one most notably as Sher Khan lunging out from the tall grass.
  • Despite not being a musical, several songs from the 1967 animated film, including ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ were included in this film. The songs from The Jungle Book(1967) appear as bits of dialogue in this film. Kaa speaks ‘Trust in Me’, and Baloo sings a bit of ‘The Bare Necessities’.
  • Actors Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s sons Sasha and Kai make their film debut in the movie as little wolves! Director Jon Favreau’s children also appear in the movie.
  • The sounds you hear when Mowgli goes underwater when on Baloo’s tummy are generated through high powered underwater speakers made by oeanears.

Take a look at what goes on behind the scenes and how animation comes alive on screen!

A ‘walk-through’ of The Walk!

TheWalk02

High-wire training undertaken by the film’s star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, lengthy pre-vis, a green screen studio in Montreal, simul-cam setups, stunt doubles, face replacements, meticulous replication of 1974 New York and the Towers (including hand-animated traffic!), innovative cloud rendering, and well-planned out stereo – at a “very responsible” budget. We take you, step by step (pun intended) as to how Atomic Fiction, led by visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie, reproduced Philippe Petit’s daring high-wire act between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7th, 1974 for Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk.

TheWalk_VFX_MakingOf (1)

To portray Petit’s death-defying walk convincingly, several methods were adopted. Gordon-Levitt was trained by the actual wire-walker himself just prior to shooting, and continued training during photography. For scenes on the wire, production utilized the actor, or his stunt double, on a real wire, on special planks aka the Canadian Bar.

One challenge faced during shooting was the cross-over between the pre-visualization, actual partial set-build and assets that Atomic Fiction had begun the film’s digital construction on. “We had pre-vis (pre-visualization) assets from the original pre-vis that was done,” notes Baillie. “But then we realized they weren’t the same as the set build that had been done off of blueprints of the towers. We had to figure out where the differences were, take the pre-vis assets, tweak it to match the simul-cam just enough so that we could rely on it on set. Then in the post-vis (post-visualization) there was another round that went into it, but Atomic Fiction had started building the hero assets by then and could contribute some of those dimensions to the post-vis team. By the end of the process we had a model that was a dead nuts match of the set build and the entire building.”

Zemeckis leaned heavily on the 3D side of the final image to help immerse the audience in Petit’s world, both between the towers and in many other moments, during the film. To do this, he shot in mono. “I think that’s a very important distinction to make, and we had several meetings early on to make sure that everybody from Bob through to set construction were clear on what the rules were on 3D for this film. Bob really respects 3D as a tool and wanted to make sure we got it right, even though we were doing a conversion, that he got the film-making and lighting and focus, and what compositions worked. He also had to consider how he would cut the movie, he was thinking about editing while shooting.” Legened3D handled the conversion work, taking packages of final comps from the VFX vendors and layering them together within the desired stereo budget. “Interestingly,” notes Baillie, “there are only 826 shots in the movie in total. Some blockbuster films have 2200 visual effects shots. But Bob wanted to make sure that for the 3D to work he would give the audience time to take in the environment and feel it, which works better in stereo.”

the-walk-vfx-3 (1)

Although this article concentrates on the main wire sequence, The Walk also included significant visual effects contributions from two other vendors – Rodeo FX and UPP. Rodeo delivered effects for several Twin Towers ground level scenes that had been filmed only on partial sets, as well as the shots of Petit narrating the film upon the torch of the Statue of Liberty. UPP handled Paris sequences that were filmed in old Montreal, Petit’s early wire performance at a park in France (filmed almost entirely on green screen), and his walk between the towers of the Notre Dame cathedral (again a green screen stunt).

vfx (1)

“India will be among the top content creators”

toonz

Established in the year 1999, Toonz Animation India Pvt. Ltd is the state-of-the-art animation production facility of Toonz group. The 18,000 sq feet facility is nestled in Technopark, India’s largest IT Park located in the South Indian state of Kerala, one of the must see destinations of a lifetime as described by National Geographic Traveller. From the creation of India’s first 2D animated TV series & 2D feature film, to India’s first 3D stereoscopic theatrical, the studio boasts of an envious pedigree that saw many successful coproduction partnerships with the likes of Walt Disney, Turner, Nickelodeon, Sony, Universal, BBC, Paramount, Marvel and Hallmark.

Today, the studio has emerged as the leader in the Indian animation industry with a host of successful productions for the domestic market and one of the most admired studios in South East Asia. The studio has been heralded by Animation Magazine as ‘one of the top ten studios to watch’ and also been chosen as one among India’s top ten ‘cool’ companies to work for.

Toonz Animation is now our placement and intern partner.  Mr. Jaya Kumar, CEO shared his thoughts on the animation industry.  Read on to find out what he has to say about the right recipe for a successful profession in the world of animation, what wins when it comes to content or technology and much more.

What do you think is the proper recipe for being a successful professional in the animation industry?
Lots of passion, lots of practice, constant learning, always updated and last but not least, an entrepreneurial attitude.

Regardless of an ocean of creative minds working in the Indian Animation Industry, why do you think our industry is not booming (Intellectual Property creation as compared to Outsourcing) in the international market and what can be done to bring us to spotlight?
This is not entirely true. First of all we need to understand that Indian Animation Industry is in a transitionary stage from a destination for outsourcing because of cheap labour to a participatory creative activity since people abroad have started believing in the creative power of India. While India is not fully recognized as a resource for successful IPs originating from India, the fact is that we have already started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. India is emerging to be the largest young population with lot of appetite for animated entertainment content in various platforms. Some of the new concepts getting developed are able to travel across the world. India is at the threshold of crossing over to quality content from quantity. Quantity at a lower cost, even at the cost of quality was a need during the last decade. It was more on the Indian content that could connect with the Indian kids. There are ample examples of successes for that. Now it is slowly turning to quantity AND quality. We will be seeing a flood of quality Indian content from India for India in the immediate future essentially due to better money and the better appetite for Indian kids for quality.

Now coming to bringing India to the spotlight in the international market, we believe, the world has changed and so did we. Now we are looked at as a destination not only for getting the work done at a better cost but India is also looked at as a very strong partner both creatively as well as production-wise.

As far as Toonz is concerned our playground has already become more global. Another important matter in today’s market is the overall demand for content for digital platforms. And that is not local. It is international. The boundaries have started to blur big time. It is the innovation, technology and the creative power that is going to rule the immediate future. Henceforth there will not be the concept of specific region or country when it comes to Digital Platform. The content will still rule even in the regionalism. We need to come up with localised content and spread across the world. And there is no escape from this if one wants to remain in this industry.

Where do we stand in the Animation Industry in CGI/Visual Effects and where do we find ourselves ten years from now?
Technically and creatively, we are quite there in comparison to international arena. Feature films like Kung Fu Panda 3, are examples for this. A look at the credit list will prove that. So it is not the question of talent or skill. It is the question of opportunity and that is fast opening up in India. As far as VFX is concerned, there have been only a handful of films that demanded heavy VFX. And the use of VFX to tell the story or to enhance the visuals has already arrived and it is here to stay.

Talking about ten years from now, it is too difficult to predict as the technology and the appetite are fast changing by months. One clear thing that is emerging is that people have started believing in VFX for feature films. When it comes to animated features, it is a little different. Indian population is not yet tuned to see a story told with animate characters. Chances of success have been less due to the expense vs. the potential revenue. But by nature, Indians are way too smart to find ways to reduce the production cost and still tell a story effectively. This is proved multiple times with live-action feature films. Even if we have to really predict, in ten years from now, the technology and the viewing experience is going to change drastically and as it has proved in the last few years, India has caught up with the international technology pretty swiftly and we will be among the top content creators and consumers in the entertainment field, for sure.

Content versus Technology, what should be given relevance and why? Please share your views.
Content is the King and will be the King always. While technology can keep changing, if the focus on content is not strong enough, there is a huge waste of time and money by over-using technology. Yes, technology can hugely change the viewing experience. But content is always going to be a challenge to quench the appetite of the people in all ages.

What advice you would like to offer to aspiring creative people.
Hold on to your passion and find novel ways of telling stories to keep the world entertained. Never allow your passion to die due to the environment. Exploit the best technologies available at that time to make the viewing experience special. Never compromise the content for technology. Technology will follow your passion.

 

Indian animation, a huge force for the future

featured

Gaming and animation are two areas now that are seeing a high demand for talent. Not only are they very exciting and newer fields to work in but are also one of those few fields which are witnessing tremendous growth very quickly, thereby creating great career opportunities for trained and talented people.

What was more so relegated to the sidelines until a decade ago is now fast becoming the mainstream in film entertainment, television and of course the internet. That trend is changing now and how! Animation is fast becoming the hottest career to pursue. The young artists who once faced the criticism for being different and choosing a path not trodden by many, are now being seen as the torch bearers for taking the industry to a global level of recognition and hopefully awards.

Thumbnails
A few sketches from a story, done by one of our students.

The country’s animation brigade has made great strides in Hollywood (Life of Pi and Prometheus) and the bigwigs of the industry believe that this signals their arrival on the global stage in a small but significant way. Though they have been working for many Hollywood films for years, working on majority of the 3D conversion work, it is not until now that they have received their due.

With the growing demand for well-trained people, many animation studios and companies have come up in cities across the country, with Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum becoming the hubs. Many of them are equipped with the latest technology to tackle the demands of services, be it 2D animation, 3D animation, storyboards, product demos, illustrations, logos, banners, portraits, caricatures or customized ones. Famous for their work in post-production and 3D content development, this field has high-paying jobs for many digital artists and other technical specialists.

robot
3D rendering of a robot, as imagined and done by one of our students.

Reasons why global entertainment firms are flocking to India are a many. It is because of the low costs (cost of animation production in India is one-fourth the cost of what it costs in the West). Not just that, India been the second largest entertainment industry in the world, our studios provide a large pool of high-quality software engineers who are familiar with and on par with the latest trends and technologies. Added advantages are that the English speaking workforce overcomes the language barrier.

lineup_characterdesign
A few of the characters, in one of our students’ story.

To put things in perspective, here are some facts: India’s animation entertainment sector has experienced a major boom in the recent past, employing over 80,000 people, and the current size is estimated at US$ 247 million and expected to grow at 15-20% per annum. According to the latest report by NASSCOM the animation industry in India will grow at 22 percent every year. How is that to beat?!

Character Lineup

Imagination coming to life, in this student’s character lineup.

Many animation studios and production houses in the country are packed with work be it outsourced from abroad or in-house projects for the market at home. Which is why, the animation industry faces a talent crunch, and trained and talented people are the need of the hour.

The ice seems to have broken and the reach and popularity of animated content has crossed all barriers and is something that the larger audience is familiar with. This could be the best time to enter this industry!

how-to-guide-for-animation-1