May – June 2010

Production/ Post

  • WHAT TO EXPECT

    BroadcastAsia returns to the Singapore Expo on 15 - 18 June with new technologies, solutions and equipment for the entire value chain, from content creation to delivery. This year’s theme, ‘Intergrating Technologies, Experiencing Content’ features new 3D and digital signage clusters as well as the latest digital and high-definition equipment and integrated workflow solutions for the broadcasting, production and post productionzindustries. Asia Image highlights key products that will be on display.… Read More

  • BRANDING STRIDES IN BROADCAST DESIGN

    Broadcast design across Asia is making waves as designers use globally accepted conventions infused with vernacular elements to make their mark and reach out to audiences… Read More

  • FICCI FRAMES: DIGITAL DIRECTION FOR FILM WORLD

    “The creation of digital distribution networks such as video on demand services, satellite airing, and the launch of technologies such as Apple’s iPad, which offer high-definition video viewing experiences, would create potential for films beyond theatrical releases”, said Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment. Roy was speaking on a panel session entitled ‘The Future Of Film Marketing: Growing Ancillary Revenues’ as part of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Frames 2010 in Mumbai. FICCI Frames is the annual convention which features three days of debates and discussions on various issues faced by the media and entertainment industry in India. “This isn’t the far future; this is a reality now, which is likely to change the entertainment landscape,” Roy said. “Digital devices can allow for interactive content and scrollers, which impart tidbits on the movie being watched - services for which a consumer is likely to pay a little extra.” The panellists included Kapil Agarwal, joint managing director, UFO Moviez India; Sanjeev Lamba, CEO, Reliance Big Pictures; Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures; and Sandeep Bhargava, CEO, Studio18. Going digital would also provide a solution against the problems of piracy. “Digitising movies not only counters piracy, but also helps achieve a widespread movie release, without print and other related costs,” Roy added. Bhargava of Studio18 agreed, citing an example where the digital world helped enhance entertainment. “We have realised in our experience that even if movies with smaller budgets don’t have theatrical releases overseas, people want to see them on DVDs. This often leads to piracy,” he said. To address this challengefor the release of the film Striker, Bhargava and his team tied up with YouTube to make the film available on its platform in markets other than India. As YouTube was officially partnering this initiative, no pirated links to the movie were allowed on its platform, thereby ensuring minimal piracy. While Roy and Bhargava were enthusiastic about the growing importance of digital in contributing to a film’s revenue, Lamba talked about some of the key problems plaguing the film industry in India, in particular, the issue of rights management. “The rest of the world works on ‘all rights’ releases, which means tying up with one company for all these rights,” he said, “but in India, the tendency is to break up the selling of rights by tying up with different partners. This has its limitations, as opposed to obtaining everything under one roof/banner.” The success of film marketing begins by managing its rights successfully. As a prediction, Lamba said that just like in Hollywood, consolidation would soon enter the currently fragmented production industry in India; and a handful of studios would soon command 60 per cent of the market share, much like in Hollywood. This year’s edition of FICCI Frames highlighted various issues such as piracy, proliferation of Indian fi lms to new avenues, better collaboration with foreign films, new formats, and more. India’s media and entertainment industry has gone through tough times in the last two years as its mainstay advertising industry suffered due to the global financial slowdown. The industry as a whole registered a modest growth of around 1.3 percent in 2009 compared to 12 percent in 2008. A session that attracted a lot of interest at FICCI Frames 2010 was one that examined the topic of censorship. Babu Ramasami, the regional officer of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) revealed that a proposal has been made for a separate certification of digital movies, which could be different from theatrical releases. Ramasami explained that the CBFC kept guidelines vague to keep creativity alive and to allow fi lmmakers to explore progressive ideas. Moderator, Kamal Hassan who is also the chairman of FICCI Media & Entertainment Business Conclave, suggested filmmakers could submit their scripts for review to enable CBFC to foresee if films would be cleared at the final stage. The convention culminated with the FICCI-Frames Excellence awards. Rajkumar Hirani`s Three Idiots was awarded Most Successful Film of the Year with Hirani receiving the award for the Best Director of the Year. R Balki`s Paa swept the Best Actor categories with Amitabh Bachchan winning the Best Actor of the Year – Male award for his portrayal of a 12-year-old Auro, afflicted by progeria (rapid ageing in children). Actress Vidya Balan, was named Best Actor of the Year – Female for her role as Auro`s mother. Shah Rukh Khan was named as Global Entertainer of the Year while composer A R Rahman was presented with the Global Icon of the Year award in recognition of his musical creations. Ranbir Kapoor won the Best Entertainer award; Pritam Chakraborty was presented the Best Music Director award for his work in Love Aaj Kal. The television industry had its share of accolades with Colors recognized as the Most Successful TV Channel of the Year and Zee TV reality dance show Dance India Dance declared the Most Successful Non-Fiction Show of the Year. Daily soap Uttaran was named the Most Successful Drama Series of the Year, actor Ayub Khan scored the Best Actor of the Year, TV, Male and Ulka Gupta of Jhansi Ki Rani received the Best Actor of the Year, TV, Female. ------------------------------------------------------------------ FICCI BEST ANIMATION FRAMES AWARDS 2010 One of the largest and most technically advanced visual effects facilities in Asia, Prime Focus, took two awards at the prestigious FICCI Best Animation Frames Awards 2010. Prime Focus was awarded the Special Jury Award for Chandani Chowk to China (CC2C) and VFX Shot of the Year for Tum Mile. Merzin Tavaria, chief creative director, Prime Focus and VFX supervisor on CC2C and Tum Mile said, ”We are extremely honoured to have been associated and to have contributed to the success of Chandani Chowk to China and Tum Mile with our visual effects. I would like to thank FICCI BAF and the makers of the film for trusting our creative expertise. In the years to come, we will continue to strive to push the boundaries of visual entertainment.” For the fi lm Chandani Chowk to China, Prime Focus delivered an array of post services and over 1,000 visual effects shots. Co-produced by Warner Bros, the fi lm notched some notable firsts including the first Bollywood fi lm to be distributed by Warner Bros and the first Indian production to be shot in China. In fact, Chandani Chowk to China is the biggest internationally distributed film in the history of Indian cinema. The movie was worked on by a team of 150 artists led by VFX supervisor, Reupal Rawal under the creative supervision of Tavaria. The project was spread across India over a two month time frame, with shots and sequences delivered simultaneously by Prime Focus artists at facilities in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. “Chandani Chowk to China required a lot of planning to achieve the quality of visual effects within the time frame. It feels good to be appreciated for ones effort,” said Rawal. Prime Focus team for Tum Mile comprised of 79 creative professionals, led by VFX supervisor Ritesh (Ricky) Aggarwal, also under the creative guidance of Tavaria. The film required Prime Focus to recreate the July 2005 Mumbai floods and realistically project it with effective live-action effects, complete CG shots, compositing, matte painting, etc. “We are thrilled to receive not one but two awards at this year’s FICCI BAF. It was quite a challenge for us to create the infamous Mumbai floods scenario for Tum Mile. This recognition is a result of the joint effort of the entire Prime Focus team and the makers of Tum Mile,” said Aggarwal. Prime Focus was also nominated under VFX in a Commercial category for its work on the Coffy Bite commercial.… Read More

  • AUTODESK PANORAMA ANIMATION CHALLENGE

    Tancho comes out tops in the inaugural animation challenge, which saw keen competition with 57 entries from seven countries in the region, proving there is an abundance of talent waiting to be tapped.… Read More

  • HONG KONG FILM AND TELEVISION MARKET (FILMART) 2010

    Collaborations with China and new technologies took center stage at this year’s Filmart in Hong Kong, where attendance was strong and both buyers and filmmakers were optimistic. According to the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a record 540 exhibitors from 29 countries attended the four-day 14th Hong Kong International Film and TV Market, and all eyes are directed across the border to mainland China, where the box office is expected to top US$1.5 billion this year. There was a bigger presence all around from countries like Taiwan, Philippines Malaysia, Thailand and Korea. Europe was also well represented at Filmart, with big delegations from Germany and France, while Austria, Croatia and Latvia were also at the fair. Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who received an Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema gong at the Asian Film Awards, said Asian movies were gaining traction in the world and making more of an impact. “But Asian filmmakers still have a lot of work to do before they can truly turn their movies into a medium through which ordinary people in other parts of the world can acquire a good understanding of Asian culture,” he said. The film industry is important to Hong Kong, and stopping piracy was an essential way of keeping it thriving, according to a report commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft - Greater China (IFACT-GC), which represents the Motion Picture Association in the territory. The Hong Kong film and television industries contributed HK$33 billion ($4.25 billion) to the economy and created more than 32,000 jobs in 2008. The report was commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft - Greater China (IFACT-GC). “The report provides useful quantitative figures for us to evaluate the contribution of the film and television industry and an opportunity to look beyond to see what should be done to facilitate the further development of the industry,” said Sam Ho, executive director and general manager, IFACT-GC. As part of FILMART 2010, this year’s event handed out cash prizes to several projects which were vying for the 8th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) Award. The Enchanter by Kwok Tsz-kin, a project originating in Hong Kong, and Twins (The Philippines) by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, originating outside of Hong Kong, were awarded seed money of HK$150,000 (US$19,319.41) each. The award shorlisted 25 selected film projects from 17 territories, including 12 co-production projects - the highest in the history of the HAF, indicating a growing trend of inter-Asia film collaboration. The Paris Project Award was presented to I Love You So Much (Taiwan) by Leon Dai. The film won an award of £5,000, which included one round-trip ticket and hotel accommodation to participate in Paris Project 2010 at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival. HAF also presented the Technicolor Asia Award to Cosplay (China/ France) by Sheng Zhimin. The film was awarded an in-kind prize worth US$25,000 by Technicolor Asia, Bangkok. The first-ever recipient of the Wouter Barendrecht award was Mama Eva (Hong Kong/ China/ Switzerland) by Kit Hung. This new award is dedicated to the memory of the late Wouter Barendrecht, Hong Kong-based international film producer and co-founder of the HAF. The winner was awarded a cash prize of HK$50,000 by the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation and the Film Development Fund. The awards were announced in a ceremony held at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. Films from China and South Korea ruled at the 4th Asian Film Awards 2010, taking top honours including best picture, best actor and best actress at the ceremony also held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mother, the South Korean mystery thriller directed by Bong Joonho, was named Best Film at the Asian Film Awards. The film depicts a woman’s quest to prove the innocence of her mentally incapacitated son who is faced with a murder charge. The film also took the Best Actress award for Kim Hye Ja who plays the eponymous mother who takes it upon herself to investigate the murder of a teenage girl to prove her son is innocent of murder. Kim’s granddaughter accepted the award on the actress’ behalf. Kim also won best actress at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards last year. Director Bong and Park Eun-kyo won the best screenwriter award with the script for Mother, which was also selected as South Korea’s entry for best foreign-language film at this year’s Oscars. Chinese director Lu Chuan won the best director award for his feature film City of Life and Death (China), which deals with the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, where hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers. The film also won best cinematographer. Two actors from the blockbuster, Bodyguards and Assassins, which tells the story of how a group of people protect ‘Father of the nation’ Sun Yat-sen during his brief stay in Hong Kong, took best actor and best supporting actor. Wang Xueqi won the best actor award with his depiction of a businessman who provides financial support for the revolutionary movement led by Sun in what would become the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty. Former pop star Nicholas Tse won the best supporting actor category with his role as a rickshaw boy. Hong Kong actress Wai Ying-hung received the best supporting actress award for her portrayal of an overprotective and alcoholic single mother in At the End of Daybreak, directed by Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang. The film’s co-star, Ng Menghui won the best newcomer award. Producer Terence Chang accepted the award for 2009’s top grossing film director on behalf of John Woo, for Woo’s two-part war epic, Red Cliff. Indian screen legend Amitabh Bachchan, 67, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. The Asian Film Awards is one of nine major events in Entertainment Expo 2010 in Hong Kong organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The other events in the expo, held from 21 March to 6 April this year are the Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards; the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award; the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market; the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum; the Hong Kong Music Fair; the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony; the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum and the Hong Kong International Film Festival. … Read More

  • 48 HOUR FILM PROJECT: SINGAPORE

    A whirlwind movie-making cram session, the 48 Hour Film Project challenges teams of filmmakers from 70 cities all over the world. Each team is given a character, prop, genre, and a line of dialogue and must write, shoot, and edit a film in just 48 hours. Filmapalooza, held each year at the NAB Show, features the best film from each city, selected from over 2,500 entries on four continents. According to the organisers, back in May 2001, Mark Ruppert came up with a crazy idea: to try to make a film in 48 hours. He quickly enlisted his filmmaking partner, Liz Langston, and several other DC filmmakers to form their own teams and join him in his experiment. The big question back then was, “Would films made in only 48 hours even be watchable?” The answer was a resounding “yes”, and now nine years later and with more than 150 competitions having taken place around the world, it is amazing to consider the success of the Project, the organisers said. The 48 Hour Film Project’s mission is “to advance filmmaking and promote filmmakers”. The tight deadline puts the focus squarely on the filmmakers - emphasizing creativity and teamwork skills. According to the organisers, “While the time limit places an unusual restriction on the filmmakers, it is also liberating by putting an emphasis on ‘doing’ instead of ‘talking’.” The Singapore leg of the Project, now in its third year, is produced by Meghan Shea and Michael Rogers. Over 20 teams participated this year, and both the city winner and the audience choice winner received a copy each of Media Composer 4.0, sponsored by Avid. The city winner’s film will also be screened at Filmapalooza next year, where it will compete with around 70 films from all over the world. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ THE 48 HOURS OF MADNESS A recap into how Audience Choice award winners for 2010’s 48 Hour Film Project, Method in Madness, managed to write, direct and edit a short film titled The Arrival with a team of five. Written by the team’s production manager, Lisa Cheong. For some filmmakers, writing, shooting and editing a short film within 48 hours may seem like a herculean feat. But for directors David Shiyang Liu (5 Films in an Anthology of a Film a Month) and Nicole Midori Woodford (Kitchen Quartet), they saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with each other on a film for the first time. Unlike many of the 48-hour film teams this year, Liu and Woodford chose to keep the team small as a way of pushing themselves to their limits to see how much they can accomplish within a short time frame. Furthermore, both directors felt that a small crew did not put them as a disadvantage as both directors had skills in the areas of producing, editing and visual effects. How the madness all panned out: 30th April, 6pm Friday night: The various teams converged at the campus of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia, as organisers Meghan Shea and Mike Rogers briefed the teams on the rules and regulations of the competition. Shortly after, from each team representatives queued up to draw their movie genre out of a hat. As the teams before us announced their genres (Film noir! Romance! Drama!), Method in Madness drew the science-fiction genre. The organisers also unveiled the three must-haves which needed to be included in every team’s fi lm. Teams needed to incorporate a pillow as a prop, a character called Eugene or Eunice Ling who works as a personal trainer, and the phrase “Well, that certainly changes things”. 8pm (42.5 hours remaining): After leaving the Tisch campus, Method in Madness went for a lengthy three-hour dinner and brainstorming session. Due to time constraint and the directors’ lack of experience in this genre, the directors agreed to stay away from the usual sci-fi tropes of laser guns and aliens, and veer towards telling a story about human connections instead. 1am (39 hours remaining): The next meet-up was held at Woodford’s house, where she spent some time on the phone convincing director/actor Thomas Lim (Roulette City) to act alongside actress Oon Shu An (Kitchen Quartet). Before the night ended at 4am, the co-directors had already cranked out a story which they felt enthusiastic about and wanted to tell. The story revolves around a Singaporean girl who is reluctantly roped into helping a Cantonese-speaking stranger fi nd his way back home. As the night progresses on, the girl learns that the stranger is more than what he seems. 1st May, 2pm (26.5 hours remaining) : The team met up at Woodford’s house again to finalise the beats for the film. In order to save time, two directors decided not to come up with a traditional script, but typed out a list of beats with the description of camera angles for each scene instead. And even though much of the script would have to be relied on the actors for improvisation, the directors also wrote down the main dialogue points which the actors needed to cover in order for the plot to progress. 8pm (23.5 hours remaining): Keeping in tandem with the sci-fi genre, the team’s ideal location was one with minimalist, modern architecture. With no extra lighting on hand, the team also needed a location that could provide ample lighting for the set as well. After a quick location scouting along Dhoby Gaut, the team’s initial plan of using the park space above the train station was quickly dismissed after the place was found to be visually unattractive and too dark for the shoot. Banking on a suggestion to explore the Circle Line stations, the team managed found the perfect location at the Bras Basah station where its long shiny escalators, high walls and lack of traffic fit the feel of the story perfectly. 10.30pm, call time for cast (21 hours remaining): Actor Thomas Lim arrived at Dhoby Gaut and while waiting for our actress, the directors briefed Lim on the premise of the story. 11.00pm (20.5 hours remaining): Armed with a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR, an Audio-Technica shotgun microphone and a Zoom H2 recorder tucked into the pocket of Lim’s blazer, we hurried towards the Circle Line Bras Basah station to shoot before the station closed. Over the loudspeaker calls for passengers to board the last trains, Method in Madness manage to squeeze in six lengthy shots within 20 minutes before exiting the station. 2nd May, 2am (17.5 hours remaining): We were shooting the scenes at the coffeeshop along Bencoolen Street when friends whom we initially roped in to play the roles of Eugene and Eunice phoned with bad news. “Eugene” was slightly tipsy and would not be able to arrive on set to act in his role, and “Eunice” didn’t feel comfortable acting in the scene alone. Out of the sheer desperation, Liu and I agreed to take one for the team and fill in as the film’s extras. 4am (15.5 hours remaining): I’d lost our prop. When the team was headed down to the Orchard Road and Somerset vicinity for the toilet and street scenes, I had accidentally thrown away the two apples which we had shot with earlier in the train station. After four convenience store clerks and two restaurant waitresses in the Orchard vicinity told me that they do not sell apples, I hopped into a cab and asked the taxi driver to take me to the nearest petrol kiosk station - wherever it was - hoping that they would sell apples there. And to my luck, they did! Even the birds posed as a challenge for the film crew as well. While the streets of Orchard Road were relatively quiet in the wee hours of the morning, the chirps from the birds in the trees above were so loud that it became a concern about whether the noise would drown out the actors’ dialogue. Finally, the directors called it a wrap at 7am just as workers startstreaming back onto Orchard Road. 7.30am (12 hours remaining): Back at Liu’s house, the directors looked at the rushes before showering and collapsing into bed. 12pm (7.5 hours remaining): Oops! The co-directors, who are also responsible for the editing slept through their alarm clocks and are now two hours behind schedule. With two Apple laptops placed side by side, Woodford started work on the assembly edit in Final Cut Pro while Liu worked on the visual effects of the film in Adobe After Effects. Due to the frenzy in the train station, it was only during postproduction when Liu realised that my hand (which helped aid the visual effects take) was accidentally captured on film as well. This meant even more work for Liu - and what he initially envisioned as an hour’s worth of rotoscoping work eventually took three hours to complete. 5.30pm (2 hours remaining): In order to make the 7.30pm deadline, the editors made a decision not spend precious time syncing the sound from the Zoom H2 recorder to the film, and just rely on the sound recorded through the Audio- Technica shotgun microphone. Meanwhile, Woodford sourced for the film’s music via musician Moby’s website, mobygratis.com, which provides free film music for independent and non-profit filmmakers working on independent films or shorts. 6pm: Just before rendering the film, the team realised that they’ve forgotten to add the subtitles for Lim’s speaking lines and rush to include them in the film. 7pm: No minute was spared as Liu used the time in the car ride to Tisch to burn the film on disc for the organisers, with a thumbdrive used as backup. 7:20pm: The team arrived at the Tisch campus and submitted the film with 10 minutes to spare. Success! … Read More

Feature Articles

  • MARK WARNER ON EDITING MAO’S LAST DANCER

    MARK WARNER is an Academy Award winning film editor whose works include Driving Miss Daisy, The Chamber, The Devil’s Advocate and most recently, Matching Jack. He is currently based in Sydney, Australia.… Read More

Cover Story

  • BEHIND THE IRON MASK

    Industrial Light & Magic Singapore takes Asia Image on a tour of their facilities and discusses their involvement in creating the visual effects for Iron Man 2.… Read More

  • GREAT EXPECTATIONS

    Is 3D a revolution or craze? At the NAB Show this year, the most impressive booth featuring this technology was Sony’s - it had a massive LED screen that uses line-interleaved 3D with polarization. All throughout the four-day show it was showing 3D clips of golf games, nature documentaries, TVCs and a rock concert. 3DTV it would seem, has arrived. While it’s easy to imagine the 3D LED Screen in a sports bar, 3D’s viability in living rooms remains a question - especially in Southeast Asia, where take-up for HDTV remains low. But perhaps consumers should skip HDTV altogether and start stocking up on 3D glasses. Or splurge on the ‘auto-stereoscopic’ 3DTV Samsung unveiled at CES earlier this year and skip the glasses altogether. This year’s lineup of 3D broadcasts, particularly the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa, could be the impetus for other broadcasters to realise the potential of 3D content for the home. Now that content is increasingly available, the onus is on TV equipment manufacturers to convince consumers that 3D is not a fad. True, 3D has been around for decades in one form or another, but so far it has largely been relegated to the big screen. The commercial power of 3D fi lms is hard to dispute, and the rush to retrofit 2D movies could be an economic boon to the post production industry, as in the case of Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans. There is even talk of an Iron Man 2 3D release. But so far the finished products are not as believable, not as mesmerising as films conceptualised and shot in 3D. Maybe it’s as Howard Stark said as he showed his son Tony an early model of the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2. “This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world.” In the meantime, I’m framing those red and green Cellophane lenses from third grade. … Read More

Country Focus

  • INDIA’S MEDIA INDUSTRY TO REACH US$24.57B IN 5 YEARS

    The Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry currently valued at US$13.17 billion is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% over the next fi ve years. The industry is expected to reach US$24.57 billion by 2014, according to a report released by accounting group KPMG. According to the report, the television industry is projected to grow at the rate of 15% over 2010- 14 and reach a size of US$11.69 billion by 2014. This growth is expected to be driven by a rise in subscription and advertisement revenues for the industry. The television industry, which is currently pegged at US$5.73 billion, has been growing at the rate of 6.8% since 2008. The industry has seen growth in TV penetration and an increase in the number of digital homes, leading to a rise in subscription revenues for distributors and broadcasters. Though the average time spent on watching television remained largely flat, the number of TV advertisers increased from 8,500 in 2008 to 9,400 in 2009. Out of this, 4,600 were new advertisers on the medium. Apart from that, TV’s share of ad spend was 40% in 2009, indicating its nature as a powerful medium for advertisers. Rajesh Jain, head media and entertainment, KPMG India, said, “2009 saw the M&E industry growing through a tough phase as advertising revenues were impacted in line with the challenging economic scenario. However, the subscription revenues continued to grow. The untapped potential for growth in media reach, impact of digitisation and convergence, better consumer understanding, sustained efforts in innovation and enhanced penetration of regional markets all augur well for the industry.” The report also highlights that the growing potential of the regional markets, penetration of newer digital TV distribution platforms, increasing competition, innovation across product, processes, marketing and distribution models and growing importance of pay audiences were some of the key highlights of the previous year. However, it was DTH sector that proved to be a successful medium and helped in increasing the pay TV subscriber base even during challenging market conditions. However the report emphasised that to see positive results taking shape, the Indian M&E industry was in need of improved institutional mechanisms to ensure greater transparency and strong enforcement of the existing laws. An increase in documentation, awareness of rights among people and adoption of international practices were positive steps towards adopting a new legal and fi nancial framework for the industry. Executive director (M & E) of the market research firm, KPMG, Jehil Thakkar stated the pressing need for a financial framework for the industry in the wake of increasing activity like Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, mergers and acquisitions, private equity deals in the entertainment sector. “Although India was increasingly becoming compliant with the global legislations, there was a need to open the doors to give remake rights and obtain picture licenses,” said consultant Dina Dattani. Besides the obvious benefits of avoiding legal hassles, it would also lead to opportunities for greater funding. Patricia Myer, partner, MS & K, welcomed the change in selling of rights of Bollywood films to Hollywood, which indicated greater acceptability of Indian films. For this trend to continue there was a need to ensure better legislative processes and resolving the problem of the change of titles. Bobby Bedi, managing director of Kaleidoscope Entertainment, feels the changing financing model of the Indian film industry has revamped the process of filmmaking. With the fi lm sector accorded industry status, banks, corporates and film studios were coming in with investments. However, he emphasised that the growth of newer models of financing would overtake the traditional models only if the risks were covered through the creation of a robust and more stable financial framework. Karan Ahluwalia, executive vice president & country head, (Media & Entertainment, Fine Arts, Luxury, Sports Banking) of YES Bank, disclosed the rising appetite of the banking sector to lend to the media business. He said there should be actualisation in terms of newer products such as syndicated bank film financing structure. He pointed out that the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) would lead to greater transparency and discipline, which in turn would help acquire more support from the banking sector. On the adoption of international practices in India, Ashni Parekh, legal consultant, said these would surely benefit India in the long run. She talked about the advantages arising out of the amendment to the Copyright Act, which was underway. While the broadcasting industry is in favour of establishing an independent and autonomous regulator for the sector, which would spearhead India in the new media space, it would want selfregulation as far as content code and policing issues are concerned. The assessment was based on the industry’s feedback from the recently concluded FICCI Frames 2010 conference. More than 600 representatives from the broadcast sector attended the event. Top decision-makers and industry representatives deliberated on the pressing issues relating to the broadcast sector. Amit Mitra, secretary-general of FICCI, said while big broadcasters have their own content code, all stakeholders should come to an agreement with the code of this nature developed by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) for its members. Weak infrastructure is an area which needed to be looked at by the government. Efforts also had to be made to improve the reportage of cable subscription in the country. Further, a clear roadmap from the government on the digitalisation process would make a positive impact on the sector. In order to enhance the technical aspects of the Indian film industry and to increase the trend of animation and gaming, the ministry also had plans to set up a national centre for animation and gaming industry at an initial investment of US$115,000. The need for a single-window clearance for producers reemerged as a topic. Veteran media professional, Ravi Gupta, said, “The last thing a producer needs is to have to go from the state to the central government, to defence and archaeology departments and railway departments and so on, only to find that once he has set up, some authority comes along and disallows shooting saying some licenses are missing. We need reforms for people to shoot in India. Just being cheaper and offering good landscapes is not enough.” This issue was brought to the fore at the Cinemascapes conference when filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor pointed out the significance of locations to producers and also how producers helped destinations gain large-scale visibility. Cinemascapes is an annual convention aimed at creating alliances between Indian producers and potential locations including destinations and hotels. It also includes a forum and business sessions to debate issues between the film industry, locations and the government. Kapoor cited the multi-Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire as a successful example of the importance of a film’s location and the role that backdrop and environment played in allowing the film to tell its story. In various interviews, director Danny Boyle had related how his interaction with the locals and the environment’s representation in the film was key to the success of the film. Filmmakers lamented that while overseas destinations tried to woo Indian producers, there was little assistance from the Indian authorities towards India’s fi lmmaking industry. “The infrastructure is not adequate and there is no support from the local government and from the local police to control crowds, or any facility to obtain permissions and licenses. We need a much longer lead time to shoot in India as a lot of time is lost in obtaining permissions and licenses,” said renowned filmmaker Yash Chopra. In response to Chopra’s comments, Maharaja Arvind Singh Ji Mewar of Rajastan remarked, “Unfortunately, films are considered no more than entertainment and, sadly, its contribution to the economy and to employment is overlooked. If this dimension could be projected to the government by filmmakers, it could result in a change in attitude.” Producer Kuldeep Sinha went on to suggest that approvals should be all encompassing and government controlled locations could be made available to producers at no hire charge. He also pointed out the duplicity in permission requirements for news shooting (where there is no need for permissions) and film shooting (which entails an endless list of permissions required). While domestic locations presented a host of licensing problems, thus sending producers overseas, producers claim that shooting overseas often leaves a hole in their pockets, particularly in European destinations. However, film commissions in these countries were more than willing to offer reduction in costs, free shooting in some areas, assistance in obtaining permissions etc., to offer some relief to producers. Meanwhile, other industry issues raised included piracy and high entertainment tax in some states – some as high as 40%. Information & Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni praised the industry on its proactive approach to solving problems and expressed her desire to introduce positive reforms to aid the industry in solving its issues. “I sincerely appreciate the film industry’s depiction of the plurality of India and therefore accelerating tourism over the years. I do believe in the industry’s role in creating employment,” she said. Minister Soni explained that a meeting had already been called between individual state Information & Broadcasting ministers to discuss issues with piracy regarded as the first on the agenda She also added that a tax structure was being planned, termed as a ‘general sales tax’ which would address the taxation issues. Archiving of old films was another concern that the industry put forward suggesting that the treasure of archival films could be lost due to lack of storage facilities and maintenance. To this minister Soni remarked, “We have identifi ed 8,000 films to be archived out of which 7,000 have already been digitised and restoration work has already begun on those that have been digitized. A temperature-controlled facility in Pune for these has already been established.” If there were any doubts about the importance of the Indian media and entertainment industry, they were dispelled when minister Soni revealed government plans to set up a national museum for Indian cinema by 2013 to commemorate the centenary of the film industry. “We are committed to the national heritage mission and will be celebrating 100-years of Indian cinema in 2013 for which we are setting up a national museum of Indian cinema in Mumbai ... we have already allocated US$1.45 million for the project,” said Soni. … Read More

Technology Focus

  • RECREATING THE CLASSIC HARE AND TORTOISE STORY - WITH A TWIST

    THE SKINNY Prime Focus’ VFX team recreates a modern day version of the classic tale of Hare and Tortoise for Central Bank of India. Conceptualized by RK Swami BBDO, the commercial was executed by the creative team at Prime Focus VFX consisting of Merzin Tavaria, Raj Tambaku and Sumeet Gupte, supported by a team of 20 artists at Prime Focus’ VFX facility at Royal Palms, Mumbai. The fully animated ad called The Race is one part of a three-part campaign for Central Bank of India, promoting the bank as having ‘Refreshingly Different Ideas’. Merzin Tavaria, chief creative director, Prime Focus said, “The distinct nature of the concept and its execution by the Prime Focus VFX team propelled the existing standard of animation for commercials to a completely different level of creative and technical brilliance.” Speaking about the creative brief Prime Focus’ Raj Tambaku said, “The brief that we received from the agency was to keep it refreshingly different, by creating a much needed modern twist to this classic tale of Hare and Tortoise. It also had to be amusing and should be able to instantly connect with the present day generation. Said Gautam Pandit, creative director, “The brief was to create a communication that was fresh and different to strengthen the Central Bank of India’s positioning in the consumer’s mind, and one that would break the clutter in the financial category. Therefore the idea had to be different and yet with an element of surprise. The agency came up with the concept of communicating the thought through well-known Panchatantra tales; with an interesting twist to make it even more memorable, and refreshing.” THE PRODUCTION The project posed certain physical and creative challenges. Project lead Sumeet Gupte said, “One of the challenges was to keep it modern, yet maintain the authenticity and nostalgia around it. Another challenge was to simultaneously conceptualize three different concepts in such tight deadlines.” There are three main characters in the ad - the Hare, Tortoise and the Monkeys. Prime Focus team started with studying and developing numerous concepts for the look & feel and the behavior of these central characters. “Around 25 blend shapes per character were created in order to aid and facilitate their actions, expressions and dialogue deliverance for the character animators,” explains Gupte. “Another challenge was the texturing of the main characters. Apart from adding the fur and the right amount of softness to it, particularly for the hare, we also had to make sure the fur on each of the central characters is uniquely distinct, which was technically quite challenging.” To make it look more visually appealing, the characters had to be blend in with beautiful background imagery. Prime Focus VFX team created every tree in the background distinctly - every tree was conceptualized, designed and modelled differently. Not only the models but even the textures are unique. THE POST Detailed shadow maps were used from mental ray, to render transparent shadow maps for all the shots. Overall seven passes were used to aid the compositing process and to maintain a surreal and soft look for the overall commercial. “We have already delivered the first two concepts for Central Bank of India and are currently working on the third. Prime Focus has always strived to push the boundaries of visual entertainment and set standards for others to follow. This commercial is testimonial to our unmatched technical and creative expertise,” concluded Tavaria. … Read More

  • A NUMBERS GAME FOR STARHUB

    THE SKINNY StarHub Cable Vision came to Intense Animation Studio seeking a unique creative and technical execution for their upcoming channel renumbering campaign. There are well over 130 channels available on their network so this was no small matter. The campaign needed a creative direction that would immediately get viewers’ attention and gradually help them replace erase what they currently remember about the present system while appreciating the convenience of the new numbering system. With the new system, they would be able to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of content available on StarHub TV as well as remain loyal to the service in the face of mounting competition from other pay TV operators. It was a tough request. THE PRODUCTION The final direction was a parody of Men in Black movies. At the end of every MIB alien adventure, a ‘Neuralyzer’ (memory-erasing pen) is produced and flashed in the face of those who don’t need to recall the details. Swap the pen for the remote control and flash this in the face of viewers. Substitute Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, create new versions of the aliens and we are in business. Intense started by converting the written scripts into screenplays and storyboards and then director’s boards. Scheduling was everything. Only one day’s studio filming was possible, and the initial slate of 14 spots with speaking parts was planned to the minute. The entire shoot was completed on a blue screen set, as all environments were CGI. Intense completed pre-visualization for all spots before camera was turned over so the direction on the day was precise and efficient. There was little choice; so much content required filming that unless the shoot was planned to the maximum degree possible, the entire project would fall apart. Du DaSheng, VP of Starhub’s Multiplatform Solutions Unit who commissioned this project agrees. “The great thing about Intense was the energy and efficiency they brought to the project. Not only did they fully understand our needs, but they value-added in terms of creative execution as well overall planning,” he said. THE POST Intense created six principal character models for the project, with a few small variations of each one for specific versions. There were vast amounts of animation. Intense Head of Production Jason Desjarlais was very particular about the character performance. In total, Intense produced 21 separate spots, all with a unique theme and different animation requirements. There are eight genre-specific spots, two generic and a further 11 short versions (or tags as they are known). “As we began combining the characters with live action, we saw many places where we needed more animation, or we just felt we could enhance the job by adding different characters and performance.” Sealy said. “So we made several animation passes before we were completely happy”. For the Intense team, the most enjoyable aspect of the campaign was being able to create a series of expressive characters and animate them without the regular constraints of commercial work. “Generally commercial animation, or the style we are ordinarily asked to create for advertising, revolves around products or environments” recalls Jason Desjarlais, “but on this job we got to create a whole bunch of cool little dudes and the more exaggerated their behavior was, the better. That’s why we do animation after all.” … Read More

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