|Sneak peak into Magadheera VFX|
R.C.Kamalakannan started his career as an ENG cameraman and U-matic editor. He later got in to Computer Graphics and got further trained at Frankfurt University, Germany.
In his career span of 15 years Kamalakannan has worked on numerous films as Visual Effects Supervisor and some noteworthy ones are Kushi, KadalarDinam, Dhool, Ramana in Tamil, Garshana, Tagore, Anji in Teleugu. He has also supervised number of commercials including the ones for Sterling Resorts, Rasna, BPL, MRF, Amrutanjan, TI-cycles, Fair & Lovely and Milo.
He recently worked on Magadheera as a VFX Producer with Prasad EFX and Firefly studios, along with individual artists Adel Adili, 3D Technical Director from Iran and Pete Draper of UK as Pipeline Technical Director. A total of 890 shots and 400 shots were worked upon by Prasad EFX and Firefly respectively for the movie.
R.C Kamalakanna gives an insight on the much appreciated VFX and CG sequence of The Stadium and Udaygadh City in Magadheera....
For a CG shot, everything should start on paper as concept drawing. But for the Stadium, Marco Rolandi, an Italian concept artist, started as a cad-drawing. In 5 days he made his first 3D concept
It took five months for Marco to reach the following design as per the Director‘s imagination.
Simultaneously Adel Adili of Iran, 3D Technical Director of Magadheera, was working on the 3D Udaygadh city.
Adel is a unique 3D artist. He was involved in my earlier projects namely Anji, Yamadonga, & Arundathi. He started the Udayagiri City with a city-plan. Streets, buildings, mountains, temples, palaces, water bodies and its connections, huge waterfall, its sources, river, its streams, gate, moat, trees, all were perfectly planned and got the Director‘s approval in stages, and was executed. Adel redesigned Marco‘s 3D stadium to suit Indian aesthetics and made it fit perfectly to the city. It‘s Adel‘s stadium that has given the visual grandeur of Magadheera.
The stadium-set, based on Adel‘s design was built under Art Director Ravi‘s supervision at Ramoji Film City. Several technical difficulties were faced during the shoot. For example, the ground was uneven, especially near the King‘s seating; steps were 2 ft higher than the ground near the entrance tower. This posed a major problem when we composited real & CG later.
Erected Set - King‘s seating area & waterfall mountain
In India, most CG is happening in 8-bit colour depth, which is much inferior to the colour depth of film negative. That‘s why, when we composite live & CG, the CG looks separate from the live "plate". The only way to do a perfect composite is to follow the same colour-bit depth of the film negative. It needs an experienced, dedicated team to do so. As the VFX producer of the film my job is to find suitable studio/freelancer to deliver utmost quality at proper budget on time. So, we brought in Pete Draper of UK as our Pipeline Technical Director. Pete had worked with me in Ghajini (Hindi). His knowledge in Pipeline setup, Renderfarm setup, 3D particle flows are impeccable. He has also penned many 3D technical books. With the right mix of theoretical & practical knowledge, Pete landed at Hyderabad during the stadium shooting, which was happening under EFX Prasad‘s supervision.
I was in Iran during the schedule, finalising the CG stadium and City with Adel. The major portion of the film was shot in Anamorphic but to minimise the distortion, super 35 camera gate & lenses were used for the stadium episode. The Post-Production of the stadium was given to Prasad EFX, Chennai.
The producer gave me enough encouragement (and budget) to set-up our own Renderfarm in Chennai. The pipeline Pete set up for the post is the "heart" of the process. EFX was lucky to have got him as TD. They won‘t go back to 8-bit comp ever.
The post process was in several stages, after the scan. 3D-tracking, (or blocking for steady shots), export/import the tracked camera in the 3D-software, setup the light to match the live plate, render the back-ground plates, composite it and deliver. The live stadium had only 7 steps, in which live people were positioned in 6 steps. The remaining 12 steps are CG extension. Adel has done the 3D CG people to fill the CG steps and their actions, in a library of 3000 frames.
So a typical composite will have live layer, stadium layer, 3D people layer, sky layer, flags layer, digital soldier‘s layer & bird‘s layer. (All in several 16-bit file passes.) Pete has designed the Birds (particles) in two flows, one "flow" kept on "flying" around the stadium and the other flow takes off from a position dome and lands on a target dome. Director had used the birds in several shots effectively. Also the huge balloons over the live set denote where the CG structure to be positioned later in post and served as a reference for the 3D lighting.
It all went like clock work. On finishing stages of the stadium composite, I ventured to Iran again to work with Adel for the 3D city shots. The city-shots created entirely in CG. The shots where the two horses enter the city gates and the one fly-thru, which travels along the city and ends on top of the Lion‘s wings are treat to watch. When we started the city-shot renders, it has taken several hours to render one frame. But Adel re-corrected the geometry and applied several path breaking ideas, so just in the last week before the film release, we were able to do corrections, render and submit. Adel designed the 3D horses with hero & villain and Pete designed the 3D people flocking behind the horses. It was a perfect team work.
Images Copyright M/s Geetha Arts & Marco Rolandi