How Indian VFX Artistes Creating Special Effects Waves in HollywoodHollywood News

July 22, 2019 12:39
How Indian VFX Artistes Creating Special Effects Waves in Hollywood

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Indian visual effects artistes’ getting their hands on Hollywood films as the workforce behind special effects in films is making strides. From Thor: The Dark World and Avengers to more intimate films like The Shape of Water and The Handmaid's Tale, the Indian imprint on Hollywood is acquiring new dimensions.

The reason for hiring Indians in Hollywood include the comfort level of communicating in English, the ability to get work done and reasonably priced costs.

"Indians are known for their hard work, dedication, and cheap labor which attract the industry to hire them. Most of the people can speak and communicate well with clients and bosses, which gives them an upper hand compared to other countries," said Harsimmar Singh, who has worked on Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) biggies like Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok and the award-winning show The Handmaid's Tale.

Singh, who works with Take 5 Productions Inc in Toronto, recalled his experience of working on Man of Steel when he was in India at the time.

"It was meant to be a big deal for us because the Hollywood studio approached us for labor. We used to make only 5-10 percent of what the artistes used to make in the U.S. and that too with no overtime pay," the 29-year-old told PTI.

Countries like Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore have emerged as major hubs for employing VFX artistes, as they are equipped with animation and VFX schools that offer advanced education in different streams, explained Mumbai-based Shreeraj Nair, Senior Technical Executive, Frameboxx Animations and Visual Effect.

In Canada, the Vancouver Film School and Vancouver Institute of Media Arts are some of the institutes that give Indians with an avenue for advanced studies.

"The same goes for New Zealand where there are education centers such as Media Design School, Massey University, etc. These centers help them find employment all over the world. Singapore too has its fair share of VFX studios," Nair told PTI.

Hollywood may have been going in for a diversity push with its content, but many VFX artists believe that it is not all about inclusion.

Indians manage to get these jobs, which require extensive training, skill, precision, and talent, courtesy cheap labor and smart and hard work, they said.

Indrajeet Sisodiya, who works as a compositor at Pixomondo's Toronto branch, said a lot of names from other races and nationalities cropping up in the end credits is just another phenomenon in the industry.

"It has been happening gradually over the years as Indian artistes slowly started getting accepted for overseas VFX study courses leading them overseas work opportunities.

"Others who are immensely talented in VFX in India get jobs offered directly from overseas studios and that's another way of entering Hollywood," Sisodiya said.

He has worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Fate of the Furious and is currently working on director Roland Emmerich's Midway.

Another reason for more Indian names out there is because many of these artists are not overseas but are working in India with international VFX studios opening up branches in cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru.

For instance, Thor: The Dark World was outsourced to Prana Studios Ltd in Mumbai and Bengaluru-based Mr. X digital studio contributed to 2018 Oscar winner The Shape of Water.

"This gives a lot of talented Indian artists the opportunity to work for big Hollywood banners. And, if they are good enough, they are even given an opportunity by the VFX companies abroad," said Montreal-based Sumit Panchasara, who works with Moving Pictures Company.

According to Panchasara, whose credits include upcoming Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Dumbo, many of the Computer Graphics (CG) assets of Academy Award winner Life of Pi were developed in India, while Disney's Tinkerbell series was completely created here.

Pranjal Choudhary, of Toronto's Mavericks VFX, said the number of VFX shots in movies has gone up, with VFX companies in the West opting to outsource a lot of work due to India's advantage in terms of turnovers.

"A lot of these big Marvel movies are just not possible to make without employing thousands of Indian VFX artistes. It also allows the artistes in Hollywood to focus more on the creative aspect of the project," said Choudhary, who worked on 2014 Best Visual Effects Oscar winner Gravity.

Last month, many Indian and Indian origin names, including Hichki fame Sherry Bharda and Srinivas Mohan, best known for his work on 2.0 and Baahubali: The Beginning, were invited to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS) to represent the Visual Effects department.

Nair said it is about time Indian artistes in this field got their due.

"It's amazing to know that such talented Indian VFX artists have been invited to the AMPAS. Indian visual effects artistes are getting their much-deserved recognition," he said.

"It's also an indication of exciting times ahead for the Indian visual effects sector," he added.

By Sowmya Sangam

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