Visual effects (VFX), which has been a Hollywood wonder for long, ventured into the Indian market when Shankar incorporated the technique into his 1993 Tamil film Gentleman. Post 2000, Indian movies witnessed a huge VFX leap; movies such as Krrish, Ra.One, Baahubali and the most recent 2.0 stand testimony to it. Last week, when Aquaman hit the screens worldwide, the DC hero movie was showered praises for its impeccable VFX. Among the artistes who made the film a visual treat is Arun Krishnan from Thiruvananthapuram, who has worked with some of the prolific movies in Hollywood and Bollywood.
Arun, who works for Method Studios, was a part of the VFX team of Aquaman and Christopher Robin, both of which are shortlisted for this year’s Oscars for visual effects. “Oscar is considered as the biggest award for movies. Our movies getting shortlisted for the Oscar race is itself an honour. I’ve had the chance to hold the award two times in my career (for the VFX of The Jungle Book and Life of Pi); it’s an inexplicable feeling,” says Arun, who might be one of the few Indians who had the chance to grab the prestigious Oscars.
Currently settled in Melbourne, Arun recalls the challenging work that went behind the making of Aquaman, “In Aquaman, there’s a fight sequence involving Aquaman and Mera. The live actions needed to be converted into computer graphics; it’s never an easy task. We worked even in weekends; it was a really tough project,” he says.
“Getting shortlisted for the Oscar race is a great appreciation for our efforts.” he adds. However, the film is yet to release in Australia.
It has been 12 years since he embraced the world of visual art. “After completing graduation in commerce, I had no idea about my future. That was a time animation was getting popular in India and I decided to give it a try. There were only two institutions in Thiruvananthapuram offering animation courses. I joined a six-month 3D animation course in Toonz. As I used to draw since childhood, my creative side came to my aid. Soon after the course, I landed up in Prasad EFX, Chennai. That was how I started off,” he recalls.
Arun’s lucky streak kickstarted when he was roped in to a project by Warner Bros Where The Wild Things.
In the next four years, he went onto associate in nearly 100 movies. “I got the chance to work in big Indian movies like Enthiran, Yamadonga, Magadheera, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, etc.” After a brief period working in Muscat, he returned to join Tata Elxsi and later, he joined Red Chillies VFX and worked in Ra.One, which went on to win the National Award for Best Special Effects.
Arun’s next stint was with Reliance Mediaworks, where he got Hollywood exposure by working in movies like Expendables 2, G.I. Joe, Oblivion, Rock of Ages, etc, but he asserts that moving to Moving Picture Company (MPC) was the biggest turning point in his career. “My career best movies happened there. Being an international studio, the exposure I got from there was immense. We had access to latest software, so I could always update myself. It was a great learning experience.” His first project there was X-men: Days of Future Past. He was also in the VFX team of Amazing Spiderman 2, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Guardians of Galaxy, Martian and The Jungle Book.
As a part of Method Studios, he had the opportunity to work behind Game of Thrones, which won the Emmy award for best visual effects. His dream is to work in an Indian movie as part of the team there. “There were discussions with many directors, but nothing has materialised so far. Most of the directors and producers are not well aware of VFX which is why we see a lot of flaws in the effects in Indian movies. In Hollywood, the story is the backbone of the movie and they do the VFX according to it. Here, many movies are promoted by VFX content; that’s not the proper way to do it. VFX needs to be planned well and should be given ample time for execution. We have improved a lot, but there’s a long way to go.”
Arun is married and his wife Deepthy works as a business analyst. He is very happy with his career. “Like any job, this job too has its uncertainties. But being a creative field, it’s very enjoyable. We just have to make sure that we keep ourselves updated.”
Signing off, he says, “Animation field has a lot of opportunities, but one needs to make sure to earn a degree and to enrol an animation course, if you have the budget, do a course abroad to widen your career and get exposed to latest software and advancements. It’s a really good career.”