| Artists at work at Filaments Visual Effects studio. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Aug. 29: Quick quiz question. Which Indian city connects Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol, I Robot 3D, The Legend of Zorro, The Happening, Titanic 3D, Battleship, Piranha 3D, Immortals, Spy Kid 4, Pirates of the Caribbean and Water for Elephants?
If you answered Patna, take a bow.
A dusty road in Kidwaipuri locality leads to a small, nondescript building which is the rather unlikely address for Filaments Visual Effects studio. Inside the building, crack techies give finishing touches to Hollywood movies, many of which, like Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol, have gone on to become blockbusters.
The Patna studio specialises in rotoscoping, digital painting (wire-rig removal/clean plating), 3D matchmoving and has worked on major Hollywood productions, including the Tom Cruise film and The Legend of Zorro.
Headquartered in California, Filaments’ production facility was started in the Bihar capital in 2004 by Amit Dhawal, a Patna boy now based in Los Angeles.
“We started the studio in Patna as a team of four members after I gained some experience while working as animator with some Hollywood production houses. I saw that many visual effects artists working in the country and abroad are from Bihar, so I thought why not tap them there, in their homeland. This is how it started,” Dhawal, 35, told The Telegraph over phone from the US.
“Initially we mainly focused on the right talent with lots of planning. We started to do the research and development and experimented with the workflow. We struggled for about a year to hand-train a few very good people. Once we had a strong team and started delivering consistent, A-grade work, we began carefully hiring and training more people,” he said.
Once the studio was set up and projects started trickling in, there was no looking back. Now, around 50 highly specialised 2D/3D artists, compositors and creative leads work on three to four feature films, commercials and several music videos — all international productions — annually.
“The work we do is very tedious and time taking. It takes anything between three or four hours and three or four days to give visual effect to one particular shot that you see in a movie for a flash of a second. Hollywood production houses are very particular, they give a lot of importance to post-production work and want the work done to perfection and within tight deadlines. It is not easy,” said Parimal Sandhwar, one of the directors of the studio.
However, the studio that was set up to tap youngsters from Bihar with a knack for animation now mostly employs people from Delhi, Meerut, Mumbai and South Indian cities.
This, Sandhwar explained, is because while many Biharis choose to study and work outside, people from outside the state are willing to come and work with the studio in Patna after completing their animation courses.
“I am proud to be associated with the firm which provides high quality VFX (visual effects) services to international projects. When we finally watch the movie in theatres, it gives us so much satisfaction just thinking that we have contributed significantly to many of the shots. We feel so proud when we see the name of the studio appear in the credits of such mega Hollywood blockbusters. Though I do not like the city much, I am happy here professionally,” said Ajay Sen, a 3D artist from Meerut who has been working with the studio for the last three years.
The studio has recently opened another branch at Ranchi in neighbouring Jharkhand and is planning to start one more facility in Mumbai next year where the focus will be on Bollywood films.