Ra.One: India's Iron Man
HH: We have developed and used a lot of proprietary software, plug-ins & pipeline tools. Besides using everything off-the-shelf, we have done a lot of sequences through scripting to fasten the process.
MN: Keitan, what kinds of challenges have you have faced?
KY: The challenges faced are firstly the huge scale of the project, working with multiple studios both locally & globally, complexity of the shots & sequences, syncing the entire production pipeline and keeping tab of the progress and finally quality control.
MN: What about you, Jeff?
JK: It has been an exciting journey. Generally, I have been in a position to provide the solution where the solution doesn't exist. There has been lots of collaboration. And most of the time we have written our own software.
MN: What it's been like working with SRK, director Anubhav Sinha and redchillies.vfx?
JK: It's very exciting. SRK takes filmmaking quite seriously; very friendly and humble; he gives so much attention despite his busy schedule. Director Anubhav Sinha has a wonderful vision of the film and has become a good friend during the production. We have developed a very close relationship that allows for the design of 130 shots being executed by my company, Synthespian Studios, as well as the thousands of shots being executed by redchillies.vfx.
MN: Harry, what software are used in the making of?
HH: Houdini, Maya and 3ds Max. For composting, Nuke, Shake and Fusion. We have setup a few plug-ins to export the 800 suit Matchmation shots from Maya to Houdini to render everything procedurally, hence making the whole procedure automatic. In regards to compositing, we have used the same procedure using Nuke scripts.
HH: Yes, 3. Well, that's the fact. Most of the faculties that are teaching in institutes have been trained by their institutes. That's why VFX falls into a loop. We need to learn a lot apart from this. In the case of Ra.One, we have Jeff, who's the lead vfx supervisor and we need more collaboration like this to be on the global map. Budget is a big constraint; if we have higher budgets, we can dig more.
JK: Well, I can't answer this question because I haven't gotten the chance to visit any of the institutes. India has lots of talent, which requires nurturing and I would like to help initiate the Indian chapter of the Visual Effects Society.
MN: Harry, do you see Ra.One advancing the Indian VFX industry?
HH: Yes, some of the big VFX movies didn't do well. But I do see Ra.One as a turning point. The Indian industry has started recognizing the value of VFX. Still, we need higher budget films with a focus on VFX.
MN: Jeff, personally how you see the future of Hollywood plus Bollywood? Will there be a true amalgamation?
JK: Yes. I will definitely spread the word to whomever I meet in Hollywood, especially at the studios, that there is very good talent in India that should be brought in to work with Hollywood productions.
Mamta Narang is founder/director of AAshmam, a company that provides high-end software solutions.