Magik' at the Cannes film festival
There will be sheer 'Magik' at the 59th Cannes feature film festival, which will be held in south France between May 17 and 28, '06. As the visitors scout around for lucrative investment opportunities and creative projects and plan to tap into the much-talked about Indian entertainment domain and 'Bollywood', Media Factory India (MFI), a new age entertainment Indian company, offers an attractive proposition. Film business aficionados will get a never-before chance to partner a novel project --- India's first 3-D character animated children's film, 'Magik' to be unveiled at the Cannes film fest.
This prestigious and ambitious pioneering project is conceptualized by MFI, which while spearheading modern India's global march in the entertainment domain, is seeking global alliance partners for its plethora of commercially enticing projects. At Cannes, visitors will get an opportunity to directly interact with the multi-faceted and extremely talented Young Turk, Aashish Chanana, CEO, MFI, who is perhaps the only trained animator - director-actor in India (talk about 'an unfair advantage')!
'Magik' is being created on the same lines as major Hollywood projects ('Shrek' and 'Finding Nemo') will have a universal appeal as it can be dubbed in any language.
MFI's Animation Studio is headed by Biju, a well known name in the animation and special effects business. The company already has an integrated animation studio for all kinds of special effects as well as 3-D animation. 'Magik' is the timeless saga of an 'underdog' child, who rises above circumstances, due to a quirk of destiny. This results in the child-hero obtaining magical powers but he uses his 'powers' for the benefit of society at large and earns eternal glory. Since 'Magik' is a complex proposition with an international audience, the company is looking at global marketing and exploring areas of in-film placements/character creations all the way to product merchandising.
Chanana who is an animator himself and has been in the post production, graphics and film business for the past ten years says, "We have been working on the pre production of 'Magik' for the past one year and only after we had a bound script in hand and character designs ready, did we get into production which has recently begun. The storyline revolves around five kids and their adventures, their aspirations and how they solve problems together and there's a lot of magic too. Our target audience includes kids from all around the globe will identify with the theme as well as treatment which is universal."
Chanana also comments on the need for better film marketing mechanisms in India, saying "The film marketing space needs a lot more experienced players to get in. As a company Digital Media Factory is good in creating the content, but we'd like to work with a strong mediator who could identify the exact TG, and market the product in the most strong way to them. Crores and crores of Rupees are spent in Bollywood on creating content and on the technical part, but there is a strong need for developing an evolved film marketing mechanism for films." "I hope that the Shringars and PVRs of the world will further increase their thrust on areas such as these" he adds.
The animation production is being done by Media Factory Graphics, which is the animation and VXF arm of Media Factory India. Animation and visual effects veteran Biju D, who has helmed affairs for projects like 'Jajantaram Mamantram' as well as 'Friends Forever' is heading the entire CG production, while Aashish Chanana will direct the feature. The story is written by Sanjiv Puri.
A very interesting aspect of this project, which has a production schedule of 18 - 24 months, is the fact that the CG production team will consist of only 35 ' 50 main artists.
The very experienced (by Indian CG Standards) Biju points out, "I am very confident that we can do a very good job as well as pull off this project with a small team. Rather than taking in freshers as well as semi experienced people we have already contracted some of the most experienced artists in the country. The point I am making is that when you have a mix of freshers, semi experienced and experienced artists, there is a lot of hand holding required which affects the output rate of the artists."
"The team comprises of brilliant people and most of the artists are expected to join in a couple of months. All of us look up to each other," he adds.
"Besides, just as the Indian animation industry which has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, animation technology too has come a long way and today the tools as well as the hardware have made things much easier to accomplish in much lesser time" he further added.
Elaborating on the technology part Biju shares, "Today machines are fast. What we have used so far are Xeons and Optrons. The new multi core processors are 50 per cent faster than the single threaded ones, therefore the turnaround time is much lesser to see the work in progress and that's a cumulative effect. Besides, faster previewing means more cohesive approach."
As part of the strategy to meet production deadlines with a small team, the core pre production team is working very closely together. Weights of models will be lightened wherever possible. The look dev has also been done keeping rendering times in mind. "The idea is to stylise yet simplify, we are not going in for 100 lights kind of scenes, most scenes would have 8 to 10 lights. Polycounts would be optimized in the models and we will be playing around the textures. Being a feature the film is of course being made in 2K resolution," says Biju.
"Producing it on time with a small team, or achieving photorealism are not our challenges. All that can be done. The challenge is to get the characters to perform. All of us have photo realistic faces, but there are very few Shah Rukh Khans and Saif Ali Khans or Johnny Levers. It's the story telling and performance that will be our key focus," he adds.