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FutureWorks Tackles the VFX on ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’

The global visual effects studio partnered with Dharma Productions and DOP Manush Nandan to deliver over 1,300 shots, including set extensions, composites and motion graphics on numerous shots of phones, TVs, and iPad screens, and a CG car in a frantic chase sequence, on Director Karan Johar’s dramatic love story. 

Global VFX studio, FutureWorks, partnering with Dharma Productions and Director of Photography Manush Nandan, recently delivered over 1,300 shots for director Karan Johar’s dramatic love story, ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’.

Visual effects work on the film made use of a variety of digital tools for creation of set extensions; CG confetti and rain; composites and motion graphics on numerous shots of phones, TVs, and iPad screens; a greenscreen window composite from a background plate; and incorporating CGI vehicles in a chase sequence.

The studio shared that Maya took center stage in crafting CGI assets and set extensions, thanks to its versatility and robust capabilities. It was the key tool in seamlessly integrating intricate and realistic environments into existing footage.

Johar relied upon high-quality VFX to effectively tell the love story of Rocky and Rani, two individuals from different backgrounds. Despite their differences, their love sustains as the story unfolds against a backdrop of family opposition and societal challenges. Using VFX to aid and enhance visual storytelling is one of FutureWorks’ primary strengths. “In this project, VFX played a subtle yet pivotal role in enhancing the story and conveying complex emotions within the narrative,” says Vinay Chuphal, VFX Supervisor at FutureWorks.

While the movie was not inherently VFX-heavy, the scale and narrative tone of the production demanded a technical solution to match. Nandan utilized wide-angle shots to effectively capture the grand scale of the sets, which were seamlessly extended using digital matte paintings, providing a visually immersive experience for the audience. “With digital matte paintings, we entrusted the industry-standard software, Photoshop,” Chuphal notes. “Its rich set of tools and features empowered our artists to craft intricate and breathtaking matte paintings seamlessly blending with the film's visual aesthetics.”

Set extensions used to create captivating and elaborate environments were key to the musical scenes, not only adding aesthetic appeal but also contributing to the emotional depth of the songs, enhancing the audience's connection with the characters' feelings.

“It’s one thing applying VFX to existing live footage but it’s another challenge to integrate VFX with CGI shots,” which Chuphal found both “fascinating and rewarding.” “The challenge lies in transforming an incomplete set into something visually captivating. CGI shots have the power to completely alter the viewer's perspective, making the final result all the more impactful. It's the complexity and creativity involved in these shots that make them my favorites – the result, where the CGI elements seamlessly blend with the real world, is a testament to our team's expertise and dedication to our craft.”

FutureWorks teams have been involved in over 1,000 projects, navigating project requirements with whatever toolsets are required. In this project alone, in addition to Maya and Photoshop, they used Foundry’s Katana for lighting, Foundry’s Nuke for compositing, and ShotGrid to ensure the project was managed effectively.

The ongoing collaboration between FutureWorks and the Dharma team attests to its unwavering confidence in FutureWorks' capability to consistently bring the director's vision to fruition with precision and excellence.

According to Chuphal, for the precision-driven task of illuminating scenes, Katana was used for its stability and efficiency in handling recurring sets across multiple shots, enhancing visual consistency, and optimizing the workflow for both artists and the audience. “Nuke was our go-to for compositing,” he adds. “Its accolades as an award-winning software were well-deserved, providing our artists with unparalleled flexibility and confidence to create visually stunning effects. Nuke's speed and efficiency played a pivotal role in the project's success, delivering film-grade results. And for VFX editorial and review, the dynamic duo of Nuke Studio and ShotGrid ensured a comprehensive and streamlined post-production process.”

Summing up FutureWorks’ results on the film, Chuphal concludes, “This familiarity with our clients' working style proved to be invaluable during the post-production process. The ease of communication, understanding of preferences, and shared creative language streamlined our workflow. The collaborative environment, where ideas and references were exchanged freely, facilitated the process of achieving the precise and captivating results that our clients envisioned.”

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.