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NEW DELHI: With live shoots and big-scale productions hit amid limited cash flows because of the pandemic and having a large audience an issue, content creators are hoping visual effects and animation will come to the rescue.

Experts in these fields are anticipating bigger budgets and more projects in the coming months as digital businesses thrive at the expense of traditional media. Not only can VFX and animation work be done from home, a preferred choice given the rising number of covid-19 cases, the technologies involved can reduce costs for studios as well.

“A lot of filmmaking processes will change as things open up, much work will go into pre-production to reduce the number of people and working days," said Keitan Yadav, chief operating officer at Shah Rukh Khan-owned Red Chillies VFX.

This is where visual effects will play a role, Yadav added. Producers will spend a lot more time on pre-visualising things on devices so as to have entire sequences planned out in advance and spend minimum time on the actual set. The other big contributor can be LED screens with the help of which multiple settings, backgrounds and locations can be created sitting in one place, reducing travel costs, time and manpower.

This kind of ‘virtual production’ is going to be the keyword in the days to come, Yadav said, adding that the company has been receiving a lot of enquiries on new technologies and production tools over the past few months. It has finished work on Jahnvi Kapoor’s Gunjan Saxena- The Kargil Girl, and Red Chillies’ Netflix production Class of ‘83.

“New virtual production technologies are allowing filmmakers to explore a host of opportunities for shooting without leaving the studio, and other more traditional VFX techniques such as digital crowds, face and body replacements, green-screen compositing and digital FX all allow physical crew sizes to be managed and scenes to be shot in a more controlled environment," said Rohan Desai, global head at VFX and animation company ReDefine that has been working on films like Brahmāstra, Rock Dog 2, 83, Kung Fury 2, Undoing and Chehre, over the lockdown.

To be sure, creators in these fields say this three-month period may have had a shaky start but they have gradually learnt to navigate high-end technologies from home and have finished several projects across OTT and feature films.

“As media consumption steadily rises, Indian animation is stepping up to cater to the demand for fresh, high-quality and original content," Anish Mehta, CEO at animation company Cosmos Maya said.

For studios to remain viable in the crisis, animation could see a rise in budgets, he added. The $1-2.5 million budget for a 52-episode animation show could shoot up to $1.25-2.75 million. As far as TV viewership of animation goes, kid friendly hours such as 2-6 pm have now expanded to prime-time slots up to 11 pm, Mehta said.Apart from an animated version of Salman Khan’s Dabangg franchise, the company is working on shows for Disney+ Hotstar and ZEE5.

“The future is bright for these segments given that the content pipeline will be dependent on technology rather than live action," Rajiv Chilaka, founder of Green Gold Animation said.

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