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October 15
2020

ISSUE

Fall 2020

VFX in the Heart of Bollywood

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

VES India celebrates its launch in December 2017 at Red Chillies’ VFX Studio in Mumbai.

The VES India Section is 50+ members strong and growing in one of the most dynamic and populous VFX markets in the world. VES India was formally established after years of hard work by passionate VFX artists and innovators in the industry to rally the community, working in concert with the VES Outreach to Developing Regions Committee to successfully launch in 2017.

The film and TV industry is spread across the country. And while all regions and states have boutique studios catering to animation and visual effects, the majority of the work for local and international projects originates from four main hubs: Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Due to India’s diversity and regional boundaries, the VES Section is uniquely positioned to bring studios and practitioners together to network, socialize and build community – critical to meeting client deadlines and fostering ongoing professional development.

“I see VES India scaling new heights with the best of the domain experts leading the way and fostering a tight-knit community,” says Abhishek Krishnan, Chair of the India Section Board of Managers and Marketing Manager at AMD. “We are confident in our plans to spread awareness about our huge talent pool, not just in India but internationally as well.”

The young Section’s well-respected members come from various backgrounds, and many are considered respected leaders in their disciplines. Most of the members have strong VFX and animation expertise spanning 15+ years in the industry, with a mix of experience in VFX for films, OTT content and animation. Members also work on gaming and technology and represent the creative, production and management fields. Professionals come from leading studios including Red Chillies Entertainment, NY VFXWAALA, DNEG, MPC, The Mill, 88 Pictures, Prana Studios and Phantomfx, among others.

“I have been involved with the VES since 2012, when I became a member in Toronto,” says Pankaj Verma, member of the VES India Section Board of Managers. “Upon my return home to India, I realized that VES could be the medium to get connected with like-minded professionals and meet the big need to develop a sense of community. It was a very prideful moment for me to be a part of building another VES Section.”

The Indian film industry is serving all genres of movie making, including feature, episodic, advertising and streaming medium in both live action and animation. The Indian VFX market is divided in two streams, one that caters to the local/regional OTT content demand and the other to serve the outsourced work from all over the world.”

To serve the demand, the Indian VFX industry has a strong creative and technical workforce – a big pool of artists who have been trained at various institutions abroad and in India. “This, with adaptation of English as a business language,” states Verma, “makes India the best choice for the international market. This is very evident as major production houses/VFX studios, including DNEG, MPC, Mill Films and Framestore, are opening their arms to us. And this is creating a unique blend of work culture by mixing foreign and Indian culture.”

VES India’s formation was announced in December 2017 at Red Chillies’ VFX studio in Mumbai, where an inaugural party was hosted to celebrate the Section and welcome the new board and its members. Since then, the Section has embarked on a robust program of events to provide valuable benefits to members and cultivate new prospects.

Before the advent of COVID-19, film screenings organized by the VES headquarters were held almost every week for VES members and families in India. Mumbai does a lot of screenings, and once it is safe to resume in-person events, the team will explore bringing screenings to other cities and expanding activities across the whole region.

Additionally, the Section had been hosting a steady stream of regional meet and greets led by members locally in every major city, and has hosted successful online and offline meets in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. Going forward the Section will continue to host virtual events, with an eye towards increasing the schedule to ease connectivity between members and prospects.

“It’s a great experience hosting these meetups where existing and potential members have a chance to socialize,” says Balakrishnan Rajarathinam, member of the VES India Section Board of Managers and VFX Head of Production, Basilic Fly Studio. “New members really seem to enjoy the camaraderie and the intensive knowledge sharing in a chilled environment. And it’s gratifying that most of the participants who attend our events feel a strong sense of community.”

VES India celebrates its launch in December 2017 at Red Chillies’ VFX Studio in Mumbai.

VES India hosted a highly successful “The Making Of” behind the scenes event with AMD. This photo is of Tim McGovern, VFX Supervisor at DNEG, and Chair of the Outreach to Developing Regions Committee.

VES India hosted a highly successful “The Making Of” behind the scenes event with AMD.

VES India members and prospects gather for festive meetups throughout the year. This one is in Bangalore.

VES India meetup in Mumbai.

VES India also co-sponsored events with other organizations to help increase awareness and learning about VFX/animation films. This was typified by the behind-the-scenes event “The Making Of” held with AMD, which was largely done to share information of both regional and international VFX/animation work being done in India by regional studios.

The Section leadership has a forward-looking vision and clear goals for enriching its programmatic offerings. “We are planning to conduct master classes in our Section as platforms for pioneers in our industry to interact with VFX students and aspirants,” says Rajarathinam. “Not only students, but young professionals and budding artists, as well, to get the benefit of interacting with VFX legends. Our goal is to engage the VFX community through frequent meetups and events. We aim to do these events across multiple Indian cities by engaging VFX studios in respective regions.“

“Moving forward, we are planning to host informative/educational events to help people learn, share and collaborate via webinars and seminars,” says Verma. “We are finding new ways to reach candidates to recruit, and targeting small boutique studios to explore the possibilities of engaging eligible professionals to apply for VES membership.”

In reflecting on the trajectory of the Section, the leadership team shared their thoughts on the significance of belonging to the Society and its impact on the visual effects community.

“Being a part of the VES is so rewarding,” says Krishnan. “The Society is the epitome of talented and hardworking individuals. It’s great to be recognized for these efforts and be a part of this global platform, which also allows you to contribute and make it better every day. We will be working together to bring the community closer and make it stronger in the coming years.”

“We have the chance to be VFX ambassadors,” says Verma. “People around the world can look to the VES India Section not just for knowledge and idea sharing, but to collaborate and learn about India and the Indian VFX industry.”

“As members of the VES, we’re able to take a lot of initiative for the industry’s well-being and evolution,” says Rajarathinam. “It also gives us satisfaction to represent our industry’s aspirations within our community and to be leaders across India. Being a part of the Society is a privilege and a great experience. And as our plans for more intensive activities are executed, we foresee the Section making a significant impact on the regional VFX community and the industry as a whole.”


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