By NAOMI GOLDMAN
The award-winning definitive authority on all things visual effects in the world of film, TV, gaming, virtual reality, commercials, theme parks, and other new media.
Winner of three prestigious Folio Awards for excellence in publishing.
By NAOMI GOLDMAN
The VES’ international presence gets stronger every year, largely because of our regional visual effects communities and all that they do to advance the Society and bring people together. While most VES sections are concentrated in one main city center, the VES India Section encompasses the country’s four VFX industry hubs in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Now six years strong, VES India is thriving with 75+ members from VFX studio backgrounds, cinematography, gaming and production, and drawn from across the Asian subcontinent.
Abhishek Krishnan, VES India Chair since its inception in 2020 and Head of Studio & General Manager at Mihira AI, offers perspective on the state of the regional industry: “India is a growing market for animation and VFX, driven largely by increasing demand for top-quality effects in film, television and gaming. Indian and international studios have elevated their standing in the last few years by providing services, as well as their own IP content, and an increasing number studios have established hubs in Mumbai, most recently ILM and Framestore. Given our thriving industry and a great talent pool of highly skilled artists and technicians, we are proud that our country has become a global center point for visual effects.”
“The Indian film industry is embracing visual effects to create visually stunning content,” said Rutul Patel, VES India Co-Chair and CEO of Digital District India. “Indian VFX artists – many of whom are now among our VES Section members – are driving this trend, elevating the profile of our local talent on the global stage and showcasing our country’s role and potential as a true hub for VFX and animation.”
The geographic span of the membership is approximately 60% in Mumbai and about equally dispersed in the other three hubs. While most of the in-person events have been held in Mumbai, the section has worked to hold simultaneous events with Bangalore and hopes to hold more events in the coming year in Hyderabad – including potential involvement in the annual VFX Summit in Hyderabad, which is one of the pioneering VFX conclaves in South Asia.
The VES India Section aims to reach 100+ members by the end of the year and recruits VFX professionals through meet- and-greets and events, where prospective members have the opportunity to interact with the close-knit group of artists who form this vibrant community. Word of mouth and personal net- working to identify and welcome in potential members is also a strong ongoing thread contributing to the Section’s expansion.
Co-Chair Patel shared what it’s like to be a woman in visual effects in India and how she is using her platform: “When I joined the VES in 2017, I was one of only two women, and now we comprise closer to 10% of our Section members, which is aligned with the ratio in the industry. Most of the bigger studios, even if they have more women in their ranks, are in coordination or production and just about 10% in creative roles. It’s tough because of the culture, and harder for women to convince their families this could be their job. More education needs to be done to explain the importance of persevering in this hard industry, which yields so many great things if you stick with it. I like being part of the 10%; it feels special. I view my role with pride as I work to reach out to women and encourage them to join the VES – as I am teaching my friend’s 13-year-old daughter to use Blender and lean in to her love of stop-motion and graphics!”
When it comes to the Section’s programming: “COVID was tough on everyone, and we adopted to go online, which was the safest and quickest way to stay connected,” said Krishnan. “We organized training sessions on the latest and greatest in Unreal. And we had sessions from various regional and international studios who provided key insights on the making of those films.”
One of the virtual events was a “behind the scenes” program with Co-Chair Patel, who shared her experience as part of Epic Games’ ‘Women Creators Program’ fellowship, serving as both an educational event and membership drive. “In our cohort, there was a woman from Afghanistan who barely had internet, and we all took turns helping her with connectivity as she could really only get online for minutes at a time. This was an amazing community of women, and I was proud to represent India and the VES. Bringing this transformational experience back to the VES was very cool.”
Back to hosting live events, the Section held a nominating event for the 2023 VES Awards at Netflix India, which was an opportunity for members to come together and use their expertise and build community – which was VES India’s first event back in-person and a great success.
Krishnan continued,” We have restarted physical screenings, which were shut for a long time due to COVID, and we now have two new venues to do our screenings in Mumbai and plan to explore more venues to support our regional hubs. We hold regular physical and online meet-and-greets to discuss current topics or how we can improve engagements with the rest of the members and draw in new members. We are also planning to collaborate with companies for educational events and restart the physical ‘The Making of’ series of events where studios across India participate to show and tell how they achieved VFX and animation shots in a showcased film.”
The Section Board of Managers is focused on keeping the engagement and spirit high. They believe that every member is of high caliber, and while each of them is occupied with their professional and personal lives, the goal is to find the right balance to ensure everyone moves forward and stays connected.
Remarking on his tenure in the VES, Krishnan noted, “As a member, it is so easy to approach anyone in the industry, as they always make you feel welcome and at home. It’s all one big connected family.”
Patel shared, “Keeping our professional competition aside, we come together under the name of the VES, and it makes all of our interactions more human and personal. All of the people we get to know and understand – that is the real gift and value of being a part of the VES.”