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Baahubali 2 – The New Standard-Bearer for VFX in India?

baahubali the conclusion

Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion proved yet again that with a strong storyline, state-of-the-art VFX, boundless creativity and a solid team, nothing is impossible to achieve. Here’s a sneak peek into what the VFX supervisor, director and producer have to say about the enthralling visual effects.

SS Rajamouli’s epic period fantasy film series saw its second part hit theatres across India on the 28th of April 2017. Since then, Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion has become the first film originating from India to gross over Rs. 1500 crore in worldwide takings (as The Indian Express reports).

Regardless of whether you are a hardcore Baahubali 2 fan or firmly on the “it isn’t as good as people claim” side of the fence, there is one thing that fans, haters, critics, and regular movie goers can agree on.

The VFX in Baahubali 2 is absolutely phenomenal. In fact, these visual effects are one of the primary reasons for the movie’s astounding success across the globe.

If you haven’t watched the film yet, here’s the trailer to give you a little idea of what the hype and massive global success is all about:

How Baahubali’s magical VFX came to be

Now that you’ve got a little taste, you can see that the movie packed stunning visuals and eye-watering effects. Let’s take a deeper look and see how this came to be.

As the quint reports, RC Kamalakannan took the reigns as the film’s VFX supervisor in October 2015, and managed to extract all that VFX goodness that you see in the movie in the limited time-frame of less than six months that he was given to work with when first brought on board. With such a small window to operate in for a project so big, Kamalakannan had his hands full.

After all, as the article suggests, the film contains approximately 2500 VFX shots, shots that required close to 13,500 tasks in order to be screen-worthy. In order to achieve his deadline and deliver quality work, he decide to delegate and spread the work around. This meant that close to 35 VFX studios were brought on board to handle various parts of Baahubali 2.

Delegation of work across VFX studios

Why the choice to spread the work around rather than assign a single studio or VFX company to handle it?

The article quotes Kamalakannan on this very topic: “When you give entire scenes to VFX studios, they won’t say no to it; however, one must remember that each studio specialises in something. If they are given other work, then they’ll take plenty of time for R&D (research and development) and the final output might not be of top quality. I decided that I won’t give any studio R&D time to work on the tasks. A shot can have multiple tasks. So, we chose studios based on what task they specialise in. If someone was good at cloud or liquid simulations, then they were only given that. This process helped us to get the best out of each VFX studio and also saved us a lot of time and money.”

Before we go any further, here’s a short video just to give you an idea on the type of VFX work that was put into this film.

Interesting tidbits from the makers

AnimationXpress has more quotes from Kamalakannan and provides a fascinating peek into the kind of work that he and his team put in.

He provided some insight onto the project management software and timelines: “VFX shot division was given to stunt choreographer, Lee Whitaker, as early as possible. On the post front, Cerebro, the project management software was decided upon the other ones. Since Germany has good security and fast response features, all post related data storage was decided to be over there. Pipeline was laid, work-flow was in place by the time we started the shoot.”

He also spoke about what type of effects the film used, and the team structure in charge: “I decided to use Miniature Practical FX, and that too with a previously unknown studio in Denmark. I had the whole team’s co-operation. Prior to filming major sequence, there used to be a full team meeting which had to be attended by all the ADs, ACs, art, stunt and VFX team. In certain shots, if I felt it required sharper images, I used to ask the DoP to change the shutter-angle without any hesitation. In many cases, the director himself used to decide on the VFX prop, with Sabu Cyril sir. Overall it was a systematic work environment, totally in the line producer’s control.”

Talking about the magnitude and scope of the work put in by the Baahubali 2 VFX team, he says, “It is teamwork. My VFX producer, comp supervisors, line producers and I were constantly travelling to meet all those working directly on the VFX shots in Baahubali 2. The pivotal artist had the data needed for all 2000 odd shots in Cerebro. The ‘inputs’ were majorly Arri files, with CC files from DI shared via Cerebro. The match-move for ALL shots were outsourced to two studios, with one of them handling 70 to 80 per cent of the work. Lidar data was provided to make match moves seamless. Roto and prep work were handled by separate contractors, and the assets, textured and rigged from other studios, were also in Cerebro. The production had a 10 system render-farm installed, so, initial render tests could be submitted by ANY studio via virtual private networks (VPN). We-render, from Pune, was roped in to offer render farm services. All the studios could use We-render, free of their contract-cost. These liberal decisions from producers facilitated timely delivery.”

Now that you have an idea of the sheer effort that went in to making a project as massive as this come to life, here is one last video. This detailed clip carries interviews with producer Shobu Yarlagadda, director Rajamouli, VFX artist John Griffith, and Kamalakannan himself answers any lingering questions you may have about how the films gorgeous visuals came to be.

‘Wow’ is the word. Isn’t it inspiring to see such great work executed so beautifully? Do you want to follow in RC Kamalakannan’s footsteps and help create the next visual effects masterpiece to emanate out of India? If the answer is yes, then check out all the professional VFX courses we have to offer here at Seamedu and begin your journey towards achieving this dream today.

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