brief on your background and how you got into
I am a computer programmer from Andhra Pradesh
who came in 1991 to Chennai to learn 3D animation.
There were very few people in the industry then.
My idea was to do a one month course here as
I was very passionate about animation and there
were many tools available. While doing a course,
Indian Artists came to my institute and were
impressed with my caliber and took me onboard.
I did a few freelance jobs in advertising for
them for 6 months. As Chennai is the hub in
south India for such activities, I continued
here and I am currently the CEO of the company.
The journey has been quite hard. In those days,
there were very few professionals in computer
graphics (CG) which is a part of Visual Effects
(VFx). Visual effects is anything that you do
visually which includes animatronics and such
The journey has been quite hard
With Shankar we have worked
in Anniyan, Sivaji and now
Artists is an 18 year old company and I can
say it is one of the oldest in the industry.
We started with subtitling TV serials and went
on to do films as well. We did advertisements
using VHS tapes. Our entry into filmdom was
through Shankar’s Indian; we did the title
in the film. We did not have 3d tools those
days and everything in the title was painted.
We have worked with talented directors like
Shankar, Dharani, and Murugadoss in their films.
We also have got 2 National Awards in this journey,
one for Magic Magic, a stereoscopic film in
2001 and the other one was for Sivaji for the
white skin grafting work. Now we have worked
for the most exciting and interesting project
Endhiran. We have done many commercials for
P C Sreeram and Jeyendra who have always supported
us. On the film production side, producer A
M Rathnam has encouraged us from the Boys days.
With Shankar we have worked in Anniyan, Sivaji
and now Endhiran.
specific role in Endhiran
I am the Visual Effects supervisor in Endhiran.
In December 2007, director Shankar narrated
me the entire story of Endhiran. I was very
excited as the story and the concept were very
new, fresh and wildly imaginative. I was also
anxious as such a script has not been executed
not only in south India but in entire India
as well. I was concerned as to how I would translate
his idea visually and it was a challenging job.
I suggested to Shankar to incorporate certain
steps which are not being followed in our Indian
industry, the first thing being pre-visualization
or previz. Shankar also understood its importance
and agreed to it. A lot of pre-production was
needed before we went out for shooting especially
when visual effects formed 90% work in Endhiran.
Story and the concept were very
new, fresh and wildly imaginative
A major plus point for me in Endhiran is Shankar’s
clarity on what he wanted. This helped us move forward
We did a small test with the train sequence in which
Rajini jumps, walks and showed it to him. This was
one of the first tests on previz. And Shankar was
Out of 60 scenes, we have done previz for 40 scenes.
After this my job was to divide the entire shot i.e.
VFx breaker. In the sequences where the scientist
interacts with the robot and in the robot dance, there
are many layers in one single frame. The first one
was Vasee layer in which we shot Vaseegaran in the
green screen, next was the Chitti layer i.e. the dancing
robot. This was created in CG. We had to use live
puppets for some of the close-ups which are called
After the VFx break down, my role was to find out
the best talent available. I executed 60-70% of the
work in India and for others I went overseas. Based
on the VFx breaker, we went to LA and chose Stanwinston
studios. We also visited ILM, Tippet studios and Café
Fx in Hollywood and when we showed our previz work,
they were all awed by our international concepts.
After hunting and finalizing the best talents, execution
of work began. Till the project got completed, I had
to constantly interact with cinematographer, editor,
art director, director, artists for various requirements.
Everyone helped and it was a team work. If for others,
it was a two year project, then it was a three year
project for me, director, cinematographer and the
editor as one year was involved in pre-production.
Climax was the most exciting and
interesting part of Endhiran
was the most exciting and interesting part of
Endhiran. Although other sequences had blended
CG, the climax was more challenging. Everything
was created and nothing was live except for
the background. The ball formation, the snake,
drill, catching the helicopter and even the
helicopter was CG. While shooting the scene,
imagination of the highest order was required
to gauge the position of various objects on
screen. It was a tightrope walking as a little
slip on any side will mar the sequence as such.
We could have gone for realistic side but that
would have cost us huge amounts. I took two
supervisor’s help for this bit of work
from Hong Kong. Frankie Chan who helped me to
a great extent in climax and Eddie aided me
in the fight sequence. Climax was very challenging
and everybody worked hard and we are happy that
it is being appreciated.
Shankar is a Guru for visual effects. Right
from the beginning of his career, he has always
included some components of visual effects in
every film of his. Gentleman, Kaadhalan, Indian,
Boys and Anniyan had different levels of special
effects thrown in. In Sivaji, we had the white
skin grafting which has reached international
levels. When I went to Hollywood to discuss
with the technicians for Endhiran, they were
already aware of our work in Sivaji which spared
me from the formalities of introductions. It
was a brilliant concept and has reached well.
Shankar is a rarity not only in the Indian context
but also in Hollywood scene. He is a multitalented
person. Shankar is an excellent creator and
a great executor. He is very clear about what
he wants. Working in Hollywood is much easier
than working here because there you don’t
need to play multiple roles. However here, the
director is a one man army as he needs to take
care of many things in addition to creativity.
Shankar excels in this.
Shankar is a Guru for visual
Rajini is the ultimate super star
is the ultimate super star for all age groups.
I can cite a small instance. When we were in
US in connection with the special effects, we
took Rajni to an Indian restaurant in California
along with some Hollywood technicians who had
worked in Jurassic Park and such films. Since
we knew his popularity, we had chosen a hotel
in a not so populous place. However an Indian
couple who had come to eat there was so happy
seeing him that they came and said that their
child will eat only if Rajini’s songs
are played on TV. We were quite used to such
things but the Hollywood crew was completely
taken aback. That is the reach of Rajini sir
and his charisma.
I can quote another incident during the shoot to reiterate
his punctuality and professionalism. For a particular
scene, it was required of him to sit in a covered box
with lot of machinery with just face alone outside.
For a person of his caliber, he could have taken breaks
and done the shot. But he was very patient, sat in the
box for almost 4 hours. And when the scene got delayed
too, he did not flinch and got out only after completing
it. That is super star.
with Anthony, Randy & Sabu Cyril
As you all know, Endhiran was the combination
of many talents. Everybody worked very hard
from the beginning to end. Since previz was
very strong in Endhiran, each one of us knew
the work of other and had good clarity. There
was clear communication between the team members.
Sabu Cyril is a Gyani
Randy is the best visual effects person. Nobody will
notice that Rajini and Chitti are being played by
the same person. The shots are perfectly blended and
people cannot make out the differences. That’s
our success. For Randy, it was doubly challenging
as he has to shoot the same sequence twice, one with
Vaseegaran and the other with Chitti. He has to light
twice, mark in the floor about the lighting conditions,
placement of character etc. Sometimes, the sequence
will go to the next day also in which case he has
to match the lighting, go through the process again.
It was very tough but Randy pulled it off. His report
which ran to 1500 pages has helped us to create the
CGI perfectly. Randy is definitely an asset.
Sabu Cyril is a Gyani. He is a repository of knowledge
and one can learn so much from him. He helped us in
designing the robot and its movements too.
Normally editors will be there when the film commences
and come in after the shoot gets over. However it
was not the case with Endhiran, and Anthony was involved
for three years like us. Anthony’s vision was
the major advantage for Endhiran and as this matched
with that of the director’s, it helped majorly
in the final output especially in the climax. In this
scene, there will not be anything as everything was
created. But Anthony has to edit using his imagination
as regards to the duration of movement. The team of
me, Shankar and Anthony had lengthy discussions and
after I completed the 3D work, we would again have
talks and there would be changes and things like that.
As Endhiran is not a routine film, it required a different
kind of approach. We all worked in sync and our efforts
have played dividends.
Rajini sir was scanned under high
resolution 3D light
do you think Endhiran has done to animation industry
in India overall?
the concept was narrated to me, I envisaged
that Endhiran is going to bridge the gap between
Hollywood and Indian visual effects industry
and it has come true. Endhiran is going to be
the bench mark for all future generation. The
future projects have to work much harder to
reach this mark in Vfx department. I have also
brought in here animatronics and doom light
technology as allied components of Vfx.
Under doom light technology, Rajini sir was scanned
under high resolution 3D light in which his face is
lighted under different conditions and facial texture
details were taken. The face is not false, it is true
and these details were incorporated into the computer
and this is what helped us in the film. These images
have been utilized in the climax scene and wherever
it was impossible to use Rajini sir.
faced by the animation industry in India
Budget is the major challenging factor in India.
We have the talent and the knowhow but budget
is the limitation. In Endhiran we got the required
budget and we utilized it effectively. To complete
the entire film in 160 crores on par with Hollywood
standard was indeed difficult. When you take
films like Mummy, the budget was more than 1000
crores and when I have to work much lesser than
that but with good standards, it sure is difficult.
Directors now have realized the
value of pre-production work
Another challenge is the clarity factor with the director.
The directors here are not well equipped to do such
projects and don’t believe in the long pre-production
period. But with Endhiran, things have changed and a
revolution of sorts has happened now. Directors now
have realized the value of pre-production work and fixing
of everything before they go for the shoots. In future
you will see a lot of Endhiran kind of films in low
No, I am in a relaxed mode now and have not accepted
any project. I want to educate the directors, cameramen
and other crew members and then take on the right
kind of projects.
Advice to aspiring
This is one of the interesting and upcoming fields.
There was a time when parents wanted their children
to be engineers or doctors but now they want them
to be animators. This industry pays well too, but
it is not the money that matters. It is the passion
that counts and hobbies are coming to light.
It is imperative to be imaginative
to become an animator
does one equip to become an animator?
is imperative to be imaginative to become an
animator. You don’t have to worry about
the tools. We can always ask someone to operate
the tools. Of course, knowledge of tools would
definitely be advantageous but that’s
only 50%. You also need to be observant about
nature because everything is already there in
nature. You cannot dispute nature. Artistic
skills rather than operative skills are preferred.
Are there good
training centers in Chennai to learn animation?
Yes, Mac Academy, Arena Multimedia etc. Earlier there
were only multimedia divisions but now it comes as
a degree course. After 12th standard, interested people
can opt for such degree courses. There are also many
universities offering these courses.
affordable are they?
It is slightly expensive as this field is in
its nascent stage. But it is worth spending
because the future is for animators. Once you
learn the technology and process, it is a happy
profession because your hobby is going to be
The future is for animators