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There is definitely scope in VFX field, you just need to have the burning desire to do it.

“It’s all about upgrading yourself, learning new techniques and being curious consistently”

The VFX industry though a niche market is quite vast with a number of technicalities and depth of information involved. The more you dig, the more you can find out. Prime Focus, India’s major VFX studio mastering the VFX work for all major Bollywood films, has placed India on the global map in terms of VFX and CG creation.

AnimationXpress got in touch with VFX veteran Mahesh Baria who has been serving Prime Focus since the past 14 years and Baria has a basic funda which can inspire, encourage and boost your morale.

He believes, “It’s all about constantly learning new things, gaining information to upgrade your knowledge and being curious about anything that happens around. Always find out what is the best way to do anything, be it something simple or of paramount intensity.”

“I never had an inclination towards VFX”

Emerging from a technical background with a Diploma in Electronics and Engineering degree in Computer Science, Baria never even thought that he would land up in the VFX industry. “I just went about learning new technology and was fascinated with innovative creation. In our time, we were not fortunate enough to have everything on the internet. So, I would read books and learn from people around me.”

When he finished his course he went about talking to people, reading and getting information as he was keen on learning Computer Graphics (CG). Trying his hands on various softwares, his first job was at Sahara Television followed by Star TV wherein his role was majorly in the packaging and production line.

“I joined Prime Focus in 2002 as a Compositing artist”

He worked on softwares like Flame, Inferno and Fire. Constantly climbing up the ladder, Baria who started off as a compositing artist ventured in on set supervision of various Bollywood films. Gradually, he started overseeing a bit of DI work and finally became a full fledged VFX supervisor. “I tried my hands on everything that came to me and figured out how to give the best possible result.”

Till date he has worked on around 88 Bollywood films with some major titles like Gayab, Patiala House, Love Story 2050 and Housefull series. He recollects, “Gayab was the first project I worked on and at that timet here was no term as VFX. We just knew CG and had to create the director’s vision to make it look believable.”

“Every film has some kind of VFX”

According to him, each film has its own challenges and the VFX team has to be ready to tackle the odds and achieve the desired result in the specific span of time. “Like in Housefull 3 we had to create an entire CG castle, while Patiala House had crowd multiplication. We shot a major portion of Rocky Handsome in Hyderabad and converted it to Goa. Each project had its own constraints of budget, time and feasibility so we always had to keep a plan B ready in case nothing works out.”

“VFX has become an integral department in filmmaking”

As Baria was involved in a number of on set shooting for various Bollywood films, he imparted both his technical and creative inputs to help the director, art director and DOP tell the story in the best possible way. “Earlier onset VFX supervision was like keeping a watch, to check whether green screens are lit properly so that we don’t have any issue in production on our machines. Now the scenario has change. VFX supervisors are a part right from the scripting stage as VFX has become an integral department and can no longer be ignored. Almost every film today – be it of any genre – has some element of VFX in it in some form or the other.”

“A VFX supervisor should produce the director’s vision in the best possible way “

According to him, the important job of the VFX supervisor is to accommodate the director’s vision. You can do a precise planning before going to shoot on the sets. But when you are on the set everything can change. The weather can change, lighting can change, view can be hampered and all the planning can go for a toss.
When the situation is ideal you need to take maximum information from the set to the execution team. Baria supports this with an example, “A supervisor should take back lighting information if a particular CG character is going to be added in a live action setting. The character to be added should be in sync with the setting and also look like a part of it.”

“The VFX industry in India is on par with the one abroad”

“India is ready for a complete VFX heavy film. The techniques used are of the same level. In fact, a lot of Indian artists have worked on various Hollywood films and India has increasingly been outsourcing various projects. Producers and filmmakers want to invest money into VFX films only if the returns are high. They prefer getting a big star and then use VFX so that they gain profit and their film run for a long time. Thus, an intelligent merger needs to happen wherein the script should support the VFX.”

The techniques, softwares, talent and skill set are same but budgets and years of expertise is different. India is still naive in this industry for it has just been only around last 10 years that this industry has witnessed a boost.

“It is a good career, but you need to have patience and passion”

For the upcoming artists, Baria advises, “The upcoming artists should have their basics right. Learn the science behind VFX because you might know a lot of things but whether is it right, whether it can be applied or is it feasible is something that you need to learn. Keep learning new softwares, new information, reading new techniques and evolve consistently but patiently. Our time was different and we were the first ones to enter this industry in India but now the competition is too high. There is definitely scope, you just need to have the burning desire to do it.”

With Regards
Mahesh Baria
Prime Focus, VFX Supervisor