first concept of motion pictures was incepted in 1879 with a device called
Zoopraxiscope by Eadweard Muybridge in the United States of America. Who knew at
the time that this little device will evolve into a spell binding, jaw dropping,
pupil dilating source of pure fantasy on a 70mm wide screen. Cinema has rapidly
evolved since then and it has come a long way.
Father of animated films, Mr Walt
Disney, invented Mickey Mouse and multi - plane camera in 1928 with his debut
film Steamboat Willie. Popularity of Mickey Mouse gave a new turn to the
animation business in movie industry. In eighty two years time, the animation
industry has more than quadrupled in its growth. We are a proud generation to
witness the magnificence of the digital animation through movies like, Avatar,
Matrix, Jurassic Park, Star Was, Blade Runner, etc,
Animation has added fun and fantasy to
the movie business. Thanks to today’s high technology that has added a much
higher scope to this business with the introduction of digital technology. Today
we have movies crafted with digital / computer animation technology, such as,
Flash animation technology, and the latest 2D, 3D animation.
The industry demands highly creative and
dedicated professionals who feel strongly passionate about this industry to the
extent that some are even willing to sacrifice their well paid, stable and
secured jobs in order to contribute their highly creative skills to create a
magnificent world of fantasy for the cinema goers.
We are proud to have our next column
guest, a young budding film maker who decided to leave a well established career
in architecture to follow his creative flare in digital film making.
a young passionate and highly creative technical director of Oscar winning
movie, Happy Feet, is our feature guest for this month. Anshul is one of
those success stories who followed his heart and in a short span of time proved
that success sees no bar but only a higher one.
Anshul, as part of Australia’s most
prestigious digital visual effects company, Animal Logic, also managed a
creative team of 25 people from across the world for a brilliant project,
developing a ground breaking technology for the First full 3D animated film "Legend
of the Guardians" which was released in 2010 and was produced in Australia.
Following that success, Animal Logic,
(with assistance from NSW government), has recently secured work on a number of
high profile international projects including a new 3D series “Walking with
Dinosaurs” for BBC and full stereo conversion for the final instalment of
the Harry Potter movie series “The Deathly hallows – part 2”.
Here’s Anshul in his own words:
“My family comes from New Delhi, where
I did all my schooling and immigrated to Australia in the mid nineties. I
originally started out my career as a trained architect in 1999 and worked for
architectural firms in Melbourne on a range of projects for about 3 years.
I soon realized that the career wasn't offering me the creative flare I was
looking for and having always loved feature films I decided to pursue a career
in the dynamic visual effects industry. In 2002, I was accepted at Sheridan
College in Toronto Canada, considered to be amongst the top colleges in the
world for specialised visual effects training.
After returning to Australia in 2004 I managed the 3D department at a boutique
post production house in Sydney and was involved in producing digital content
and TV commercials for leading Australian TV channels and advertising agencies.
In 2006 I was involved with the team at Animal Logic in Sydney, considered to be
one of the world's leading visual effects company, on production of "Happy Feet"
which was also awarded the academy award for best animated feature in 2007.
Since then I have also been involved with large scale award winning productions
for leading Hollywood Studios in the UK and also Australia including "Legend of
the Guardians" released worldwide earlier this year in September”.
Tell us when you first decided that you will be leaving your well established
career as an architect and will move into the film industry, was there any
opposition from your family or did you have any doubts or fears of not meeting
success in your chosen path?
I have always been driven by creativity and a passion to try new things since I
was growing up. I remember watching a documentary back in 1993 when Steven
Spielberg’s ground breaking Jurassic park was first released. It really was a
turning point in what could be achieved using computer generated digital
characters, which was previously done mostly using mechanical real life models.
A number of key people who worked on that film also came from artistic
backgrounds like art and architecture. I was thinking to myself “wow! It would
be cool to work on something like this one day”.
Fast-forward to 1999 when Australian vfx industry really jumped into the
limelight when Sydney’s own Animal Logic contributed to the sci-fi blockbuster
“The Matrix”. At that point I was still at university and was once again really
inspired by creative and dynamic nature of the industry. In 2002, after having
worked as an architect for 3 years I had decided that it was time to make a
I would say that
architecture proved to be more of a catalyst than a “fear of not meeting
success” in the sense that it gave me the artistic and creative foundation to
launch my career into feature films and visual effects.
Movies is a very powerful media and I haven’t met anyone as yet (except my mom),
who is not under the spell of this magnificent, spell binding source of pure
fantasy. Do you think this powerful weapon of raiding human minds has a
responsibility towards society?
Absolutely! Feature films not
only offer a great source of mass entertainment but can also prove to be both
positive and negative stimulus to a human mind. In fact over the years numerous
brilliant feature films have successfully provoked
deeper thought on many sociological
issues like poverty, racism, relationships and environment.
I once heard Steven Spielberg saying in his interview that “a film maker is a
story teller”. What is your take on it?
A good story still drives a great
film even today but if you look at the some of the most successful films of the
past decade, they have also set new standards in use of technology to tell a
great story. James Cameron originally envisaged the highly successful Avatar in
1994 but he admittedly had to wait another 10 years for 3D technology to develop
enough to enable him to tell a great story.
industry has really prospered in the last decade in enabling filmmakers to tell
great stories through cutting edge technology.
Tell us more about Dynamic Visual effects in films? What is the basic technology
and how does it work to create special effects? Can you give us some examples
from a known movie?
There are a number of different facets to creating visual effects for feature
films. It essentially involves using specialised software to create what we
call computer generated imagery or CGI. This could range from photo real virtual
characters, environments, cars, planes, natural effects like rain, snow, storms
and almost anything you can imagine!
“live-action” feature films involve filming real actors in real locations and
then creating digital characters, environments and effects using computer
graphics, which would otherwise be too expensive or even impossible to create in
real life. The next step generally involves integrating real life elements with
computer-generated elements to create a seamless image.
Avatar from 2009 is a perfect example of such a process where a virtual
characters and digital worlds on the fictitious planet “Pandora” were created
purely using computer graphics, which would have been impossible to create in
The other facet or
genre is what we call “animated features”. These types of films normally do not
involve any real life filming or locations and everything seen on screen is
created using computer graphics from scratch. Some of the great examples are
films like “Shrek”, “Madagascar” and “Toy Story - 3”.
How do you read the difference in Australian film industry compared to Hollywood
and of course now fast becoming world’s favourite Indian film industry, so
Australian film industry is
highly professional and offers some of the best working conditions for film and
VFX artists but it is still very much a small and somewhat limited market as
compared to Hollywood, which caters to a wide global audience, or Bollywood,
which caters to a very large and passionate local audience. For this reason
talented Australian film professionals are often easily lured to Hollywood,
Europe or Asia in search of sustained success.
From a visual
effects perspective local companies like Animal Logic and Rising Sun Pictures
have already proven that we have the talent and capacity to produce world-class
feature films (Matrix, Happy Feet, Harry Potter, Legend of the Guardians etc)
but we cannot rely on local productions to sustain the industry and must be able
to offer broad scale incentives similar to Canada and the UK to attract large
scale overseas productions back to Australia.
What is your ultimate goal growing in this industry? Are you aspiring to be a
film director eventually?
I always aspired to work on an
Oscar winning production since the time I saw Jurassic park winning an Oscar for
its ground breaking visual effects work back in 1994. I have somewhat achieved
that through Happy Feet in 2006 which is always a great feeling.
Ultimately I plan
to establish joint ventures partnerships with upcoming studios in countries like
India and China, to offer my expertise and to help them develop great production
systems and infrastructure to produce world-class features and visual effects.
What is your insight into this glamorous but tough industry to break into? Is it
a tougher industry to break through in comparison with any other?
It is a very competitive industry
due to the sheer number of companies now offering services across the globe. On
the flipside it also offers more great opportunities than ever for anyone
looking to break into the industry.
At the end of the
day just like most specialist industries it is very much a talent driven
industry and talented professionals always command great jobs no matter what
level you may be starting out at.
Would you like to share with us your career plans moving forward? Are you
staying here with Australian film industry or do you have plans to move to
Hollywood productions already
comprise majority of the visual effects work we produce here in Australia. I
very much still see myself based in Australia but operating globally, offering
independent production consultation to companies across the globe, especially
emerging markets in Asia.
What would you say to people who are aspiring to be film makers? Personally I
started off my career as a copy writer in an ad agency in India back in 1990s
and had a flimsy dream of becoming a film director then, but did not follow my
dream. I am sure there will be people like me for whom it’s a bit late but how
would you advise young aspiring people who want to enter this industry?
Visual effect industry offers a
number of exciting opportunities in many individual niche areas for e.g. art
direction, modelling, animation, lighting or software development.
My strongest advice
to anyone aspiring to enter the industry is to really explore and establish
which area interests you the most at an early stage in your career and then try
and specialise in any one given niche.
You can of course
enter the industry as a generalist or someone who can do bits of everything but
specialisation is the key to long-term success.
And last but not
least. Be persistent and follow your dream!