Being in the visual industry for the past 18 years, Mr Biren Ghose is credited with having established India as the hub of the computer graphics animation business that is aimed at the movie, gaming and animation industries. He is presently the country head for Technicolor, which develops visual effects and animations for big budget Hollywood movies and president, ABAI. Mr Ghose talks to DC about the changes the industry needs in India and his path-breaking projects like The Jungle Book, which he considers to be a watershed in the world of computer graphics. Aksheev Thakur reports
If the Hollywood film, The Jungle Book, won the coveted Academy Award in the visual effect category in 2017, it has Bengaluru’s Moving Picture Company (MPC) and a group of technicians in London to thank. The man behind it all, Mr Biren Ghose, country head of Technicolor, the parent company of MPC, is understandably proud of the achievement. Exulting that The Jungle Book project is a watershed in the world of computer graphics, he says animation and live action VFX converged to create a story with tremendous realism. “Our group company MPC in Bengaluru produced an entire world , an immersive exploration of India’s jungles, digitally, " he notes with pride.
MPC's FX artists had to simulate physical phenomena such as fire and water, as well as interactive elements such as debris, dust and atmospheric effects with their imagery. Involved were a group of 300-odd designers in Bengaluru and a group of technicians in London. But The Jungle Book is only one of the many Hollywood projects that Technicolor is a part of. The 2015 money raker, Terminator Genisys, too has its expertise to thank. “We had to get the old and young Arnold Schwarzenegger right. We were told that the mannerisms of the actor have changed and the young Arnold that we had created was not convincing. So we had to make him imperfect enough to be accepted,” he laughs.
Observing that good stories require visualisation, which has to be impeccable if they are being adapted for the silver screen, Mr Ghose says, “Cliché happens when the storytellers are not deeply involved. Of the 900 movies that are released, 700 are clichés and that despite the involvement of great technology.”
In his view, stories are greater if they are personal. “One needs to master the genre. If one makes a horror movie, one cannot have an item number in it. The identification and perfection of the genre are important,” he explains.
He goes on to note that every culture consumes stories that resonate with its local culture and storytelling appetite. "Horror, battle films, sci-fi etc are just a few of the categories that do not have the same fan base. Stories that communicate but don’t connect are flops!” Having been in the industry for the past 18 years, he says that nothing is as satisfying as seeing a good story unfold on screen without realising the complexities of the behind- the- scenes work that goes into making the final output.
“Our animation and visual effects teams relentlessly immerse the viewer into visual imagery without letting them distinguish between the reality and the artistry involved. The teams are in a relentless quest to heighten the marriage between the audio-visual arts and sciences,” he explains, his passion for the medium obvious. As for the world of VFX animation and computer games in India, he says it is seeing an early maturity and now needs a new curriculum, new ideas and new artists and technicians to embrace the field.
"Almost 12 different skill sets go into making every frame of a VFX or animated film. It’s an industry whose time has come and the profession will become even more ubiquitous in the world of simulation with the advent of VR and other emerging immersive imaging technologies," he predicts. Mr Ghose believes there is a huge difference in the budgets between most VFX movies in India and the high budget productions that Technicolor gets invited to work on. "The VFX industry is galloping at a CAGR of about 30+ per centage. While this is largely driven by service for international work, it is likely to become even more pervasive as large producers and local studios attempt to mount productions that have a large canvas requiring computer graphic characters, environments and props," he says. In conclusion, he notes that visual imagery pumps life into stories that exist only in the imagination of directors. “Everything in the mind is a movie as one thinks in colour. Hopefully, no one thinks in black and white,” he smiles.