THE FX FACTORY

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The 1990s saw a wave of visual-effects based international blockbusters like Titanic, Armageddon, Independence Day, Mars Attacks, Dragon Heart, True Lies, Toy Story, Terminator-2, Jurassic Park and others doing great business at the box office in India, as well as most other parts of the world. Not surprisingly, this gave rise to quite a few film producers banking on the idea of making similar special-effects based films in India. And, with the burgeoning spread of technology thus clicking into the biggest cinema industry of the world (with a satellite television boom going on at the same time to boot), all sorts of little and large companies mushroomed all over the place to cater to the growing needs of the film and television program producers of India for digital special visual effects and animations.

And the idea was obviously not just to cater to India, but also to leverage lower local costs in grabbing international market share in the territory.

Amidst all of these various goings-on, the FX Factory launched operations November 1996 as a state-of-the-art facility in the city of Bombay ~ now known as Mumbai. Aside from being India's business and financial capital, Mumbai also hosts the entire Hindi film industry, which is why the city's also pouparly known as "Bollywood". And as if just to keep the point of its focus very clear, the FX Factory set itself up on Link Road Extension ~ i.e. "Bollywood Street"!

Today, the FX Factory team includes two creative directors and visual effects supervisors as well as a dozen compositors and animators, all with experience ranging from five to fifteen years of professional work. The endeavor is to create astounding photo realistic images with computer-based digital technology, and the team is fully loaded with the zeal, energy, enthusiasm and empowerment to do so. And it's part of a much larger media enterprise that amongst other things operates the annual 'Broadcast India' bash.

Ramesh Meer, founder of the company and Chief Creative Director & CEO, personally carries about 35 years of experience in the creation of Special Visual Effects for motion pictures and television. He's a graduate in cinema from the Film and Television Institute of India, where he now teaches the art and technology of Special Visual Effects as a guest lecturer. As a creative director he has supervised and worked on the Special Visual Effects of more than 200 feature films as well as more than 1000 television commercials over the last three decades, mastering techniques covering everything from optical, mechanical, miniatures, glass shots, pyro-technical effects and blue as well as green screen traveling mattes and chroma keys. With computers, he's hands-on with all sorts of Silicon Graphic and NT based softwares like FLAME, FLINT, JALEO, SOFTIMAGE, AMAZON PAINT and the ALIAS/WAVEFRONT products.

So what's the basic service offering of the FX Factory look like at the end of the day?

Creative and Consultancy
Story Boarding of FX Sequences
Supervision on Sets/Location
Multi-Layer Compositing
Target & Multipoint Tracking
Chroma Keying/Matting
Differential Matting
Wire and Object Removal
Rotoscoping
3D Graphics
Virtual Reality Sets, Props, Characters and Humanoids
Set Enhancement
Glass/Graphic Paintings
Crowd and Object Multiplication
Colour Correction and Colour Manipulation
Digital Filtering
Film Opticals with digital mattes
Mechanical Effects
Pyrotechnical Effects
Atmospheric Effects
Miniatures
Mechanical/Electronic Props
Full Body Motion Capture
High Resolution 35mm Film Scanning (Normal & Cinemascope)
High Resolution 35mm Film Recording (Normal & Cinemascope)
Video to Film conversion (Reverse Telecine)

Hardware ranges from classic Silicon Graphics rigs through powerful Quad and Dual Pentium Pros as well as Dec-Alpha Raptors. And the multiple seats of software used include: Chalice, Jaleo, Digital Fusion, Adobe After Effects, Alias-Wavefront Power/Advanced Animator/ MAYA, Softimage, Lightwave 3D, 3DS Max, Character Studio and Discreet Logic's Paint & Effect and thousands of their plug-ins.

What it all adds up to is a pretty impressive list of achievements and assignments over the years. How's this for just an update on recent awards:

2000 Screen Videocon Award for Best Visual Effects for the film, "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (nominated for the same film and same category for Zee Cine Awards 2000)

2001 nomination for the Best Special Effects for the film Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai for Screen Videocon Awards as well as Zee Technical Awards

The video accompanying this feature represents 23.5 minutes of Digital Visual Effects that the company has just finished producing for Govind Nihalani's "Deham". The film has been entered into the London as well as Jakarta Film Festivals and will be released across India in November.

New stuff upcoming will ride a hoard of new technology and techniques including Full Body Motion Capture Systems used to intermingle live actors with 3D animated humanoid and creature characters.

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Ramesh Meer
TheFX Factory
Unt 66-67,MHAA Shopping Complex
Link Road extn., Andei (W)
Mumi - 400 102 (India
tel: (91-22) 639 9650, 632 9963, 215 1396