By Sam Thomas, MD, Golden Baritone
Headquartered in Bengaluru, Golden Baritone is the unique digital collaboration center offering end-to-end solution to feature films, documentaries, music albums and advertisements by clubbing media and IT skills.
Remember the highest grosser of 2016 Bahubali - The Beginning and the visual grandeur of the magnum opus in almost every scene, be it the waterfalls, the song sequences, the castle scenes or the war field visuals? The movie certainly created a new yardstick for VFX in Indian cinema and was a solid answer to the likes of Hollywood blockbusters like 300 and Lord of The Rings. Indian 100-crore budget projects like Robot and RA.One are also telling examples of the promise the country’s post-production scenario holds. While the industry is growing steadily, to be truly realistic, one must admit that we still have a long way to go to compete with global standards.
There is no denying that visual effects used in Bollywood have become quite seamless but the realm as a whole still lags when it comes to performing visual effects in troves. So, if a movie demands a lot of effects, certain parts would end up looking slightly fake and often even over-the-top. But what are the reasons behind these loopholes? The quality of VFX in a movie is driven by major contributing factors like time, effort and investment. Rather than considering it as an add-on during post production, it should be given equal space in the set-up. You would be surprised to know that VFX of popular Hollywood blockbusters like Life Of Pi, Skyfall, Avatar, Twilight: New Moon, TLOTR: The Return Of The King, Transformers 3, Expendables 2, Interstellar, Rise of The Planet of the Apes, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Kingsman: The Secret Service and The Amazing Spiderman 2, were all done by Indian production houses. This clearly suggests that it is not India which is lagging, but Bollywood, which is dealing with the issue of insufficient budgets and lack of focus on the post-production side.
In contrast to Hollywood, which splurges a lot on its post-production and visual effects, Indian filmmakers are cautious of the risks involved. The ratio is widely visible when one considers that the makers of Avatar spent Rs.1,100 crore ($230 million) on the sci-fi thriller, while King Khan’s blockbuster RA.One, known to be the industry’s most expensive affair so far, had to wrap up everything into a budget of over Rs.100 crore. Budgets tend to limit the scope of VFX shots, but utilizing the budget stretch in the right areas can also change the game significantly.
On the positive side, the year 2015 was an influential year in many ways for the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry, sparking hopes and excitement. We witnessed the size of the animation, VFX and post-production space growing tremendously from 31 percent CAGR in 2011 to 51.1 percent in 2015. Moreover, there was quite a bit of quality outsourcing work done by Indian studios for international movies like Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe and X-Men Apocalypse. Currently, India boasts of nearly 300 animation, 40 VFX and 85 game development studios with more than 15,000 professionals working in this space.
Although, not as popular as the global post-production industry, India has certainly started gaining momentum in this space. The VFX industry in India at present is being pegged at Rs 43.5 billion and is expected to grow significantly by 2020 to Rs 87.1 billion. This indicates that the movie-making value chain is moving towards a transformation and the Indian media and entertainment industry is set to realize enormous possibilities opened by VFX, both for domestic films as well as for outsourced projects from the West. Most filmmakers have started expanding their horizons by thinking and writing scripts around VFX. Witnessing the rising confidence of both Indian and international filmmakers in Indian post-production studios, the future seems brilliant for domestic VFX artists and the industry at large.