How Padmaavat 3D came to be 

The brains behind the 3D conversion of Padmaavat talk about their experience of working on the project
How Padmaavat 3D came to be 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat was talked about for a lot of things, pre and post release. Perhaps the biggest talking point after its release concerned the marked visual differences between its 2D and 3D versions. We talk to the company behind the film's 3D conversion, Prime Focus, and those in it who executed this ambitious project: Jimmy Philip, 3D Stereographer, Gaurav Jain, Executive Producer, and Niraj Sanghai, Business Head.

Excerpts from a conversation follow:

What was the brief given to you by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali?

Gaurav Jain: The key was to bring out the essence and authenticity of that era. Bhansali wanted to recreate that period by presenting it in a more immersive 3D format, while not disturbing the emotions surrounding the events in the film. The idea was to focus on and enhance the beauty of visuals, while being extremely respectful of the aesthetics. 

Jimmy Philip: During the initial test run, we converted 120 odd shots and presented it to Bhansali and the production team for review. They were quite happy with the results and decided to give us the green light for complete 3D conversion. 

The film was originally shot in 2D. What was the process of 3D conversion like?

Gaurav Jain: 2D to 3D video conversion, also called stereo conversion, is a process during which images are created for each eye, from simply being one 2D image. For Padmaavat, we employed Prime Focus' proprietary View-D technology to carry out the conversion. It helps the filmmakers to efficiently create stereoscopic 3D films from source material shot on virtually any medium (film or digital). The same technology was used for our Hollywood projects like Gravity, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and more recently, Beauty and the Beast.

Was there a lot of pressure, given the scale of the project?

Jimmy Philip: We had our work cut out as we had over 2,000 stereo shots which we needed to deliver within just two months. At its peak, we had over 2,000 artists working on the project simultaneously with our global team. As we were short on time, we had a limited margin for error. 

What would you say were the chief challenges you faced?

Jimmy Philip: When working on a film like Padmaavat, our key objective is to make sure our entire team aligns with the vision of the filmmaker. Our approach was to preserve the essence of the photography, whilst introducing a subtle depth and dimension to the images. One of the challenges of the 3D conversion was the size and scale of the scenes captured, including the Mongolian fight scene, the Jauhar sequence, and the climactic battle between Ranveer and Shahid. In the climax scene, we see a lot of sparks and embers from the torches and the bonfire. We spent a lot of time placing and animating these embers, filling up the volume on screen to create an immersive experience. These scenes required lots of attention to detail and heavy rotoscoping, in order to allow the View-D artists to create the necessary depth. 

Gaurav Jain: There were also sequences throughout the film, like the introductory jungle sequence, which were very complicated. Due to the nature of the shots, the layers of vines, texture of the woods, and the character of Padmavati dancing around in the foreground, this sequence required an amazing amount of roto and paint work.

Could you talk about the economics of making a 3D film in India? 
Niraj Sanghai: We haven’t seen many Bollywood films releasing in 3D as opposed to the West, where you’ll see all the major studio projects releasing in 3D format. Also, 3D conversion takes a lot of time and requires an efficient post-production team that understands the purpose it serves to the story. As 3D tickets are justifiably higher compared to 2D, it helps producers maximise their returns and add more to their overall profit. We hope that the audience’s massive response to Padmaavat encourages other filmmakers to conceptualise and execute more such projects. In fact, after Padmaavat, we also have Welcome to New York and 2.0 releasing in 3D during the first half of this year.

How do you envision the future of 3D in India?

Gaurav Jain: As Niraj mentioned, post Padmaavat's success, we can expect more announcements of 3D projects this year. With emerging technologies and new trends in VFX, makers can now explore and play with various dimensions in filmmaking. 3D technology uplifts the film experience, especially in the case of period dramas and sci-fi films. As more and more producers invest in 3D technology, it will help take Bollywood to international standards. 

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