'We lack awareness on how to incorporate VFX'
Academy Award-winning VFX company, Double Negative, now has a branch in Chennai.
When Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) in Interstellar slingshots his Endurance spacecraft and glides into the event horizon of a black hole, it’s all I could do not to stare wide-eyed at the magnificent visual in front of my eyes. The VFX company that brought this scene to fruition, Double Negative, won an Academy Award for its work. It wasn't its first time winning it though--the company had previously won it for Inception (2010) and Ex Machina (2015). And now its second facility in India will be open at our very own Chennai in August. An excited Merzin Tavaria, the creative director of Double Negative India, tells us more about what the company does in India: “This is our global centre for Roto/Prep and camerawork. The Chennai chapter will have about 500 people working on this, in addition to stepping in with other asset building, including modelling and texturing. We have a huge talent pool in this field in India and having Chennai as an additional center to Mumbai made logistical sense."
The decision is also motivated by how rapidly the industry has grown in the last two years. He says, “The industry has been changing for the last two decades, but it has taken dramatic strides in the last two years. Take Kochadaiyaan, for example, which was a beautiful and bold concept. A company like ours can really pitch in with assistance with respect to execution." Is it only a lack of funding that’s causing us not to come out with the same quality of VFX as Hollywood does? He replies in the negative, “No. A director's vision is the primary driver. Once a concept is designed, discipine and process is important. There is a distinct lack of awareness here with how important VFX is embedded into a story and into the main storytelling process. VFX is as important to a film as location, costume and sets are. The traditional notions of budgeting need to be relooked."
The solution, he says, is for filmmakers and VFX companies to work together. “A person from the VFX side and one from the production side must work on a cost management exercise and guesstimate the budget. After this, we would have a fluctuating budget called a bid that would be updated based on the requirements of the film.”
It has been a year since Double Negative launched operations in India, and thanks to the burgeoning work, the company has announced a new branch in Chennai. They have already bagged a biggie: 2.0. “We are proud to be working on that film. For the moment, we haven’t really taken on any more projects,” he says. “While I can’t really reveal the nature of our work on 2.0, I assure you that in about six months time, that is all we will be talking about.”
There’s also an interesting explanation behind the title of the firm: “The name is based on a film negative. But two negatives make a positive, and that is how we want filmmakers to feel at the end of each work cycle with us.”