Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies VFX team breaks down shooting in times of Covid 19 and the way forward

Ever wondered about the role of technology in making films? Keitan Yadav and Harry Hingorani from Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies VFX break it down in an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla.
Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies VFX team breaks down shooting in times of Covid-19 and the way forward Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies VFX team breaks down shooting in times of Covid-19 and the way forward
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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the style of filmmaking with technology coming to the forefront and reducing the need of 100’s of people from multiple departments from spot boys to light boys, assistant directors and actor staff on the film set. The pandemic also resulted in travel restrictions, which put a question mark over the possibility of shooting outside India.

However, technology is the solution to every problem and Keitan Yadav, Chief Operating Officer, Red Chillies VFX, believes that the future of cinema lies in the use of virtual production. “The film sets are not going to be the same anymore and everybody will have to adapt to the new world such that you cut down on number of shooting days and people required on the sets,” he informs adding further that films like The Lion King and the Mandalorian series were shot using the virtual production technology.

Chief Creative Officer and VFX Supervisor at Red Chillies VFX, Harry Hingorani adds “We used it a bit in Zero as well. The entire Chimpanzee sequence, which is set in the US in Zero, was actually shot in Mumbai. The director (Aanand L Rai) wanted the visuals of what a Chimpanzee would do, so we created it all using the technology and he could see what the Chimpanzee is going to do in the US using the motion control technology ‘Techno Dolly’ here for Zero.”

The entire Chimpanzee sequence, which is set in the US in Zero, was actually shot in Mumbai
- Harry Hingorani

Keitan reveals that virtual production has been in action for a while now, and will come in the forefront in the post COVID world. “The visual effects companies are the ones who will be able to help the producer and director adapt to these changes. Using virtual production, the producers and directors will be able to save time and money, as it requires lesser people on the set and also lesser dates from the actors,” Harry shares, and goes ahead to inform about the world of virtual production. “We got a call from a producer saying that they were half way through the film before the lockdown was announced and had some 50 plus days of shoot remaining, including a big sequence that requires them to go out of Mumbai. But they couldn’t do that, so we got into virtual production with them.”

Explaining the process, Harry shares, “To shoot in the US, all you need to do is load the US background on the virtual LED screen.  You can scan the geography of different locations, make sets in the computer and feed everything on the screen such that you can see stuff around as if you are present at the location. It’s a good 3 to 6 months pre-production process. Real time projection can also help you change the set as per convenience. I think the entire world will use this technology now.”

According to Keitan, virtual production demands a lot of discipline in shooting. “People need to be clear when it comes to the kind of shots they need. This technology enables the core production team of Director, Producer, DOP, Production designer, VFX Supervisor and even actors to come together and pre plan the shoot even before stepping onto a shooting floor. It will bring everyone on the same page and give clarity on execution like how much of a real set needs to be built and how much of it should be a virtual set. It needs months of planning in advance as you can’t just walk into the set and decide the scene,” he sighs.

People worked on Avatar sitting at home in New Zealand and it’s going to be the biggest film ever made in the coming time. So, if Avatar can be launched working from home, I don’t see why any other film cannot
- Harry Hingorani

In the lockdown, the team of Red Chillies VFX worked from home on multiple films and web shows. “We have created a system where employees could work from home. We had over 200 artists working from home force,” Keitan smiles. And is it difficult to work on visual effects from home? Harry shares “People worked on Avatar sitting at home in New Zealand and it’s going to be the biggest film ever made in the coming time. So, if Avatar can be launched working from home, I don’t see why any other film cannot,”. Adding further Keitan says, “It’s all about adapting to the new work culture and accepting the technology. People have to enhance and upgrade their skills. Everyone has to be tech-savvy to use technology to their advantage.”

Keitan however reveals that the processes did slow down a bit as the teams worked in isolation from their homes. Artists took longer than normal to finish tasks as compared to physically working in the facility. “It’s a lengthy and cumbersome process because it takes longer to pass on the communication and plan things due to limitations of technology, Internet bandwidth etc. But, as necessity is the mother of all inventions, we too have invented a remote working pipeline, which pre-COVID would not have been possible in the VFX industry.” Harry concludes, “The process is faster in the office as you can make notes, have meetings. But here, you need to download the files, make calls and also need the internet speeds, which is still an issue for a lot of our artists. We haven’t faced any quality issue, but things have slowed down a bit.”

Keitan signs off speaking about Shah Rukh Khan, describing him as a tech-savvy guy. “In-fact, he is the one who actually introduced us to LED technology and asked us to look into it for the company. While he doesn’t interfere into the day to day functioning of the post production company, he is aware of all that’s happening. He knew how things were moving forward in the lockdown phase too.”

In-fact, he (Shah Rukh Khan) is the one who actually introduced us to LED technology and asked us to look into it for the company
- Keitan Yadav

Adding on, Venky Mysore, CEO Red Chillies Entertainment, said, “These are tough times but the pandemic has created opportunities to innovate and taught us to utilize our resources better and more efficiently. The team at Red Chillies VFX has always been at the forefront of innovation and are poised to offer innovative solutions by leveraging technology and cutting-edge ideas to producers across the globe.”

Interestingly, a lot of Hindi films in the last few months have been shot using the virtual production model, and going forward in the year, some big budget action films too are going to adapt the same. Covid 19 pandemic has indeed brought about significant changes in the film production world, bringing all the more importance to technology.

Also Read| Shah Rukh Khan makes up for late New Year wish in a witty way; Teases 'See You all on the big screen in 2021'

Anonymous 3 months ago

Hi

Anonymous 3 months ago

I heard YRF has better VFX studio

Anonymous 3 months ago

SRK always try to improve the Bollywood industry with new technology with his own pocket and people criticize him ! How ridiculous ?

Anonymous 3 months ago

nothing can replace the real locations. Audience rejected SRK's recent movies due to too much VFX

Anonymous 3 months ago

Most of the India watched Avatar as cartoon movie not song and dance romcom, not all fruits are citrus.

Anonymous 3 months ago

let bollywood make 10% of what Avatar was and then we'll talk. Bollywood will talk of Avatar and then go and make Gerua.

Anonymous 3 months ago

So, how Avatar did that tremendous success using only VFX ?