Special effects is the new buzzword for TV showmakers. SANGEETA YADAV catches up with the VFX and helicam teams of the show Naagin to throw light on the work behind the stunning use of technology for this fantasy romance
Having grand visual effects (VFX) for TV serials was kicked off way back with Ramayan and Mahabharat. Ever since then, most mythological shows like Devon Ke Dev… Mahadev, historicals like Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, Jodha Akbar, Suryaputra Karn and others like Maharakshak Devi, Maharakshak Aryan, and Siya ke Ram have expanded their special effects budgets to good results. Now Ekta Kapoor’s latest weekend show has gone all out to stun the viewers with no less than a helicam team than the one which worked on the blockbuster filmBahubali.
The show has roped in The Pixellence Studio, founded by Harsh Vardhan, Dimple and Darshan Dugar, to infuse life into the riveting storyline and to create a make-believe world. For them, making the show’s visuals close to Hollywood standard was an uphill task. “Naagin is loaded with some amazing VFX. Matching Hollywood quality in India means skillfully combining emotions with technology. I think we’ve been able to create a much bigger impact and have matched the Hollywood vision at least in terms of the look and feel of the show,” Dimple Dugar, tells you.
Naagin, which went on air on November 1 on Colors, garnered 4.34 TVR on its opening day, making it the number two popular show on the chart. More than getting close to Hollywood standards, it was the need of the hour to deliver quality work in a short span and live up to the expectations of producer Ekta and director Santram Varma.
“Our technology needs to match the vision of the producer and director while keeping the storyline intact. Digital animation or Computer Generated Imagery, matte paintings, live-action effects etc have been used for creating the 3D Cobra, showcasing the transformation from human to cobra and vice versa, and morphing from human to other characters. We also used this to create fireflies, skin textures and various other stimulating visual effects such as eye colour changing, set extensions, cobra movements, cobra tongue etc,” Dugar explains.
The experts also created a 3D temple which has been shown in the first episode. “The temple scene was one of the most prominent and exciting sequences because we created a 3D temple which had to match a real temple and there was continuous smoke in the foreground. Keeping the smoke alive, we extended the temple set behind to match the sequence,” Dugar tells you.
The 3D cobra and 3D tree are the other show stoppers. “In the scene where the cobra climbs up the tree, during the real shoot the camera was only following a pattern movement of an imaginary cobra. In post-production, we’ve added a 3D cobra climbing onto a 3D tree and matched it with the real camera movement pattern. There is one more interesting sequence where multiple snakes come towards the Kataka Bhairav sapera. It had continuous movement shots with real lightening and there was a storm as well. Here, we matched 3D lighting and created a grand shot of leaves blowing in the storm and multiple snakes entering,” Dugar says.
Adaa Khan, who plays the Sesha naagin, tells you that such shows, which are highly creative and challenging, require a lot of hard work and courage to take risks. “My role of Sesha requires a high energy performance. Her only aim is to take revenge from Arjun and his family. Playing naagin involves a lot of fun which you don’t have in a normal daily shows. We, for one, get to do the stunts. I tried to climb a tree but slipped and injured myself. But it’s fun to do something which you have never tried before. The only thing which I was not enjoying is working in the night. Sometimes when you have an off from work, you get jetlag in the day. The whole system goes for a toss,” Khan says, adding that they shoot the same night prior to the episode going on air.
Though no croma has been used in the costumes of naagin, the designer has made a heavy costume which took a lot of time for Khan to get into. The minute details like the entire get-up, eye movement and aggression are inspired by Sridevi. “The costume is very different and heavy. Thus it takes me more time to get ready. Croma is not used in my costume but certain shots have been taken on croma in certain scenes. It’s more like Sridevi’s look in Naagin. I liked the way she did her eyes movement and the way she danced in it. I also have a taandav dance in a mandir which required a lot of aggression. So I have taken inspiration from her portrayal,” Khan says.
For scenes like entering thehaveli then getting a few close-up shots or move above the head of the artists, a helicam has been used. “One major reason why it has come into place is because the dynamics you get in the shot. You can go all the way to the close-up to show your audience where exactly something is happening without any cut or wrapping. Unlike any handheld device, the helicam moves on a required speed. You don’t require artificial ramping or more VFX to correct or show the building,” helicam expert Hemant tells you.
As compared to movies, TV shows have time constraints and deadlines are priority. So the VFX experts had to choose lower rendering settings and HD resolution to give quick outputs. “We also do our VFX smartly to fit in the time frames. For films, it’s a different ball game. It requires minimum 2K resolution and heavy rendering settings. Also, more detailed planning and time is involved. In TV, a scene can take approximately 8 to 10 hours as per the shot and the degree of complication of animation, comping, matte etc. Each episode has more than 150 VFX shots. Usually, VFX shows are shot in static frames or through zoom-in zoom-out camera techniques. In Naagin, we have worked on rotation shots and continuous movement shots which are the most difficult to match in post-production. But we managed to do it efficiently,” Dugar tells you.
Good visuals and special effects add up to grab eyeballs. “Building a great concept and being able to shoot it in the way it was visualised, is in itself a huge success for the creative director and the show. The support provided by VFX is an additional factor that gives the show a bigger push, an edge and amazes the audience with its imaginary elements. The VFX effects are like icing on a cake for Naagin,” Dugar says.