NVIDIA Spices up Bollywood VFX Creation
Other Hollywood production companies and studios are using modified offshore models that illustrate the truly global nature of the film industry. DreamWorks, for instance, has struck a strategic partnership for Indian production that might best be described with a flow chart. The DreamWorks Animation Unit in Bangalore is a dedicated unit of Paprikaas, which is majority-owned by Thomson. Thomson invested in Paprikaas to build up its Technicolor Content Services division. Altogether, Technicolor has four divisions operating out of Paprikaas, which in addition to the DreamWorks Animation Unit, include Paprikaas Animation, Paprikaas Interactive-Video Games and Paprikaas Visual Effects for Moving Picture Company, London.
Paprikaas Animation, as a separate Technicolor division, maintains its own offices in Los Angeles and Bangalore, in a more "traditional" offshore production model. VP of Business Development Sanjee Gupta represents Paprikaas Animation in Los Angeles, meeting with clients to discuss using the Paprikaas Animation production staff in Bangalore.
The same way that most Hollywood deals are done, most of Gupta's business comes via relationships and word of mouth. "Given the nature of production, it relies heavily on freelance artists and producers." Gupta said. "They tend to move from project to project as the production schedules ebb and flow. Quite a few of those people have now dispersed onto other projects and our name has just proliferated through the marketplace."
The increasing influence of Bollywood is evident in another trend, a kind of reverse offshore production model. One high-profile example is the purchase of Post Logic Studios, a prominent post house with offices in New York and Los Angeles, by Prime Focus Group, an Indian post production powerhouse. Another sign of the times is that the first Indian production at Hollywood's Universal Studios is being shot, KAMBAKKHT ISHQ (INCREDIBLE LOVE) -- with Sylvester Stallone in a starring role.
Although India has many talented digital artists, the rapid expansion of the industry demands ever-increasing numbers to keep up with demand. Consequently, one of the most important ongoing initiatives is training and supporting artists. "There's a lack of training, and such a tremendous desire for it," said NVIDIA's Dohrmann. "The challenge is the animation and effects industry in India is fairly young. Many artists and animators working in Los Angeles have 20 or more years experience. We don't have people who have been in the industry with that much experience, unless they are transplants to India."
There's a shared commitment to training and educating among all the key companies in the Indian film industry, including competitive companies. Dohrmann works with companies such as Big Animation (India's second-largest studio), Rhythm & Hues, DreamWorks, Autodesk, and local companies to advance the cause. "We're really all trying to be involved in it together," she added.
Dohrmann spends a lot of time arranging for product training sessions, such as a recent mental ray event that was filled to bursting. "There is such a demand for this, I've been I've been juggling balls all week trying to placate people," she said. "I've got people begging to get into the class."
Other events are more oriented towards community building, such as Women in Animation, which NVIDIA has supported through its Women in Technology group. "We've done two really great events," Dohrmann said. "We had probably 2,000 people show up for the two events combined. They were great and really well received. We also do CG Meet-Ups, which are monthly meetings where people come together to talk about modeling, texturing or rendering, or production challenges."
There's also a concerted effort to establish educational curriculum standards. "We want to help establish core competencies in digital production, including what the exit competencies need to be from a training program, what the entrance competencies need to be, and how much emphasis needs to be placed on art," continued Dohrmann. "Anyone can learn software, but being an artist isn't something you can learn. You either have the inherent skills, or you don't. There is no gray area."