The post-production segment is poised for stupendous growth as Indian filmmakers discover the magic of digitisation. Experts share their views onthe trends and challenges in this rapidly evolving sector.
Few films are complete without a brush with technology and the wizardry it can unleash. And we don’t mean just stunning special effects, which has virtually stolen the show.Technology has revolutionised the very process of filmmaking,especially post-production. This has given rise toa plethora of digital labs and studios in India, first on the back of out sourced work from overseas as films started using more and more VFX (Visual Effects) content, not tomention 2D to 3D conversion projects. It didn’t take longfor Indian filmmakers to surrender their films to new-ageediting, VFX, Digital Intermediate (DI) and other amazing digital processes. And then, finally, we had our own VFX game-changer, the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer RA.One.
The Indian post-production segment is not only alive and kicking; it’s growing by leaps and bounds. According to theFICCI KPMG Media and Entertainment Report 2012, the sectoris currently pegged at Rs 15.8 billion and is expected to growat a CAGR of 17.33 per cent by 2016. The number of movies that use high-end VFX has steadily increased over the last few years.
The key contributors to this growth are segments like VFX and DI, and newer ones like Restoration and Conversion.Additionally, the digital revolution has made the video editing work flow process immeasurably quicker – from time-consuming(tape to tape) linear video editing to online editing suites and to computer hardware and video editing software such as Adobe Premier, Final Cut Pro, as well as incorporation of Cloud technologies for storage and technology/software access.
We spoke to prominent personality – Krishna Shetty, COO of Film Post Services at Reliance Media Works and Yogesh Chhag, Head Sales, Feature Films at Pixion Studios and asked them for their views on how the post-production sector has evolved and the changing trends in this segment. Here’s what they had to say…
Evolution Of The Post Production Segment
The entire focus of the post-production space has moved from analogue processes to new-age digital processes in feature film post-production. Colour correction via telecine on tapes for edit has replaced the traditional rushes printing process in the processing lab. The Steen beck method of editing analogue rush prints in a linear manner has given way to film editing on non-linear software-based systems like AVID/FCP. Film analysergrading in the processing lab has progressed to digital colour grading in a DI suite. DI processes have moved up from2K resolution to 4K resolution for greater detail and quality.
Visual Effects procedures like compositing,3D, matte painting, motion graphics,wire removals, crowd multiplication etc have increased manifold in recent years, and with projects like RA.One and the upcoming Krrish 3, this industry will evolve further.
While most of the above developments are associated with the visuals of motion picture films, audio post-production has also seen upgrades from mono sound tostereo to Dolby 5.1, Dolby Surround EX and now 7.1.
The final deliverables for film out put shave increased from only analogue 35mm prints to Digital DCPs, High-Definition tapes and web deliverables and 35mm prints too.
Challenges Over The Years
Filmmakers faced a number of challengesduring post-production beforethe advent of digital studios. Linearprocesses of creating rushes and viewingthem in the lab along with linear editing on Steenbeck didn’t provide flexibility to filmmakers.
Also, colour grading in the analyser would be an intuitive process with the DoP relying on the judgment of a lab technician for the final result after photo chemical processing. Any sequence that involved shooting special effects would be very tedious.
But these challenges have been overcome as our industry has had some of the best minds and talents working behind the scenes all these years.
Impact Of Digitisation
Digitisation has had a major impact on all three areas of the film business– Production, Post-Production and Distribution.We can look at each of these individually.
In distribution today, we have cinemas that have been converted to digital with 2K digital equipment. Full film DCP (Digital Cinema Packages) are sent to cinemas via hard drives, satellite and fiber optic for digital projection. There is a cost advantage for digital prints over analogue prints reducing distribution costs while improving overall image projection quality.
Post-production is the first area to have gone digital in the digital imaging space.Visual Effects for feature films and digital intermediate have helped filmmakers realise their creative vision, which wasn’tpossible by live action shoot.
Films are being shot on digital cameras alongside film cameras and the numbers are increasing by the day. The decision for digitisation is mainly for cost-saving at this point as the debate on film VS digital has been ongoing for a while now.
Benefits Of Digital Labs/ Processing Studios
The film industry has experienced a greater fillip after authentic high-end digital labs and processing studios came into the picture. The overall quality of imagery in Indian films has moved many notches higher. Some of the visuals are of international standards, thanks to the splendid work of our cameramen andpost technicians. Our films are looking better and our role as processing/digital lab can only be to further enhance the vision of the director and the DoP. We can provide them the tool sets to realise their creative pursuits on film.
The 14th National Award we received is testimony to the continued good work our processing lab team has been doingfor the last 30 years. Our film processing lab is a Kodak Image care accredited laboratory, with a record 100 per centrating that we received this year. We have been audited by Kodak Australia as an image care lab for the last eight years in a row too.
Our main clients are creative personnel like cinematographers and directors. It’s a client servicing business and is a very demanding job since every client wants this project to be of the best visually. It is my job to work with my team to ensure we deliver the best looking images for all the films we work on with quality and timely delivery.
The lines between production and post production are converging. Today, it is possible to shoot an entire film/sequence on a set without actually being on location in, say, another country. This does involve a lot of planning by involving VFX crew at the pre-production stage itself with previz software.
3D acquisition using 3D rigs and Digital Cameras, 2D to 3D conversion for 3D projection are also gaining popularity with the Indian film community. Mobile Data Management systems for digital camera acquisition, On Set DITs (Digital Imaging Technicians), On set solutions for digital dailies and VFX pre-visualisation will gain more relevance.
It is interesting to note here that all this has been made possible due to cutting edge technology. It is a constantly evolving, technology-driven, customer services business, which also makes it exciting with something new to be learnt on the job every day.