HOLLYWOOD’S DREAMCATCHER

Entrepreneur Namit Malhotra, the brain behind the special effects of several Hollywood movies, on how Indian animators are changing the movie watching experience across the world

I understood at a very young age that computers would one day change the way films are made. Today, as part of Prime Focus World, one of the world’s leading firm in VFX, animation and stereo (3D) conversion, we’ve transported you to the magical land of beasts with Newt Scamander (in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), battled giant robots (in the Transformers franchise) and sailed the seven seas (in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales).

Humble beginnings

The first film that opened my mind to the endless utilities of computer-generated graphics, and had a profound impact on me was Jurassic Park in 1993. I was amazed as I watched dinosaurs come to life, and realised that the way films were made was going to change. That led to the development of the company. From then on, I started observing the domain of sci-fi movies. I began to see a clear shift in the way technology was taking over. Just as the typewriter was being replaced by the computer in offices, we discovered that the analogue and complex process of filmmaking could be made easier and more flexible with the advent of computers. We were the first to launch the Digital Intermediate (DI) process in the Asia-Pacific region, which put us ahead of our competition and on a par with the West. My team and I believe that the filmmaking process will become even more digitised in future. Soon, Indian movies will utilise all the state-of-the-art technology that is available in the industry to create larger-than-life experiences.

Making a mark in Bollywood

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black (2005) went through our digital process and showed the industry how the use of digital technology could help bring a filmmaker’s story alive. This created a wave of opportunities and led to greater awareness in Bollywood that digital technology can substantially enhance the quality of films.

Setting up in India

When we started out, we faced the dual challenge of bringing in the latest technology and putting together a group of artists and technicians who could use it. The other challenge was to get filmmakers to accept a new way of doing things in an industry rooted in tradition. Today, almost every Indian film is shot on digital cameras and goes through a 100 per cent digital process. This has become commonplace in the industry.

India shining

We believe in bringing together the technological capabilities of the West and the talent of Indian artists to projects such as Beauty and the Beast and Transformers: The Last Knight. Our business model is not just about our facilities in the US, the UK or Canada. It’s about how we can collaborate and create something that leverages the best of what the world has to offer – that is our focus, and India is a big part of it.

Hollywood calling

While we feel we have made inroads across Hollywood and Bollywood, we need to continue to grow and provide more integrated solutions to the production community worldwide. Recognition is gratifying, but we feel our opportunities have just begun. We can now leverage the credibility that we have earned to really transform the way the future of the global film industry is perceived.

– As told to Shrabasti Mallik

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