Visual Effects in Bollywood: Perception of Jaipur Youth

Dr. Manish Verma*
Ms.Tanushri Mukherjee**
Mr. Rajesh Sharma***

Introduction

Films have always been a platform for visualization and imagination of writers and directors. Over the years we have seen so many stories coming to life on film screens. From the era of silent films to the latest digital technology, films have come a long way but in this journey innovation of the visual effects has been very crucial in depicting certain supernatural, science or action sequences. Visual effects which were initially used often for special situations now have become an essential part of every film.

These days the success of a lot films depends on the kind of visual effects it has employed.  There are specialized studios focusing on visual effects only; names like Frame store, Industrial Light and Magic, Sony Pictures, Rhythm & Hues which cannot be forgotten as they have left an unforgettable mark on the mindset of viewers through their creation of visually high power movies.

For long films have been using visual magic to make them stand out from others and for box office success, although  the technique of visual effects has undergone drastic changes from time to time. Initially, the visual effects were produced within the camera and the most common were scenes showing some jump-cuts or super-impositionsormaking widespread use of matte paintings. These visual effect techniques really enthralled the cine goers and kept them glued to the screen.

As the technique evolved the pattern of visual effects changed.Films started making use of effects like shadow, lenses, light or chemical processes to give a different touch and feel to the scenes. Fades, dissolves, wipes, blow ups, skip frames, blue screen, compositing, double exposure and zoom, pans are some of the examples of effects created through the camera on screen.

The present visual effects techniques widely being used in film making are digital compositing, animatronics, morphing, animation, scale modeling, use of prosthetic make up, modern computer graphics imagery. These are some of the visual effects technologies which create remarkable effect on the story of the film and the final impact generated.

Visual effects give a film a very unique and differentiating element making the scenes very eye catching for the audiences. Visual effect adds an attractive element to the shots. As a result, nowadays even the trailers of movies which are actual crowd pullers also have a few shots with powerful visual effects so that before the movie is released, the trailer influences the opinion of the viewers. Sometimes a film may not have a famous star cast or director but it might have certain shots which look so unique, catchy and yet realistic that the audiences remain glued to the screen.This was made possible only because of the magical impact of visual effects.

Hollywood has used visual effects for decades, but the latest innovation of computer generated imagery, or CGI, has taken the visual effects to a different level all together. The use of CGI has been most impressive in fantasy and science-fiction genres. One of the landmark films which showcased power of the visual effects was Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) in which visual effect artists created realistic dinosaurs. This film became one of the biggest super hit films ever made and was watched across almost every country. After that another film,Toy Story(1995), an animation film came close to live-action films by using computer generated graphics. Other landmark films using visual effects include The Abyss, T-1000 Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Star Wars prequel trilogy the style and content of films. A critical analysis between films with visual effects and those without visual effects and a study of their impact on the liking of cine goers have always been a matter of debate.

With the Indian film maker adopting latest visual effects, it is surely going to improve quality of film viewing. But we need to understand how and where this technology is being used  and how it is influencing the choices of  young India viewers.

Bollywood films with VFX techniques

VFX- “Visual effects require the joining of live-action footage and create image to make situations look realistic, which otherwise would have been difficult, expensive and impossible to produce in films”.

Most people feel that VFX is equivalent to 3D animation. In reality, compositing, which is a part of 2D, is the most common VFX.  This process is used in nearly all films. If the shot has 3D objects, compositing is the final step to unite all the elements.  In many cases, compositors have to key all the green/blue screen, occasionally do the tracking, get all the various 3D elements from other team members, unite those and do all the necessary fixing and adjustments.

Examples

Image-1
Movie Name: Krrish 3

Source 😦 http://www.animation-boss.com/)

In this image green matte has been used for merging different shots and thus create an impression of the actor doing the action on the plane.

Image-2
Movie Name: Dhoom 3

Green screen matte is one way of adding nice backgrounds to live realistic shots. Probably the most extreme example of this is Vijay Krishna Acharya’sDhoom 3. But even if you are shooting  with only a DV camcorder, you can do inexpensive green screen shots.

Source 😦 http://www.animation-boss.com/)

Image-3
Movie Name- Chandani Chowk to China

Source 😦 http://www.animation-boss.com/)

Image -4
Movie Name: RA One

Source: http://www.bollyone.com

Review of literature

According to a research work done by Wagener T.D (2009), visual effects have been there from the time the art form has existed. He has explained that the film making procedure is in itself a form of visual magic.The researcher has described the various phases of the growth of visual effects technology and has also discussed some of the criticism levied on those films which have made a great use of visual effect techniques. The thesis is significant in also explaining the technicalities related to the procedure of making visual effects shots right from the stage of planning to conceptual design, precise, and on-set shoot. C-G animation, compositing, color grading.

Another important study done on the impact of visual effects on films has been done by Averpil F. (2008). The writer has highlighted a very important area, describing in detail the role of various skilled personnel working behind the scene in making these films successful and memorable. They are the talented team members or visual effects supervisors who contribute to bringing the imagination and creativity of the film makers on screen the way they want. The study also discusses the various activities to be performed at the post production facility and also some of the special areas of visual effects procedure which requires special attention.

To show the importance of visual effects in the films, ACUNA, K. (2014) in her article did a comparative visual analysis of images gathered from visual effects studios like Industrial Light & Magic, Framestore, Sony Pictures, Imageworks, and Rhythm & Hues, Imaginer Systems to show how famous films would look like without added visual effects.

AshaBodhanni (2014) in her article in the Engineering and Technology magazine explained very meticulously the role of VFX in current films and how in recent times it has influenced the film industry.

According to her,”VFX has been a crucial part of movie magic since cinema’s earliest days and has always played a part in pushing the capabilities of the technologies that underpin it. VFX is often confused with other aspects of onscreen image processing, such as digital animation and computer-generated imagery (CGI), and the techniques overlap and complement each other to a great extent.According to the Visual Effects Society, standard definition of VFX would cover the processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot. VFX can involve the integration of live-action visuals and generated imagery to create convincingly realistic-looking environments that would be expensive, hazardous, impractical or impossible to otherwise commit to film or video. It also minimizes the risk to actors performing a dangerous stunt.’Gravity’s Oscar success has generated huge interest in VFX, and its potential to help guarantee healthy box office takings – the film has generated a worldwide gross of $716,392,705 (at the time of writing) on a $100m budget. The use of VFX has also attracted much media coverage, which helped the production marketing and advertising. ‘Gravity’ was unusual in that for much of the action, its stars – George Clooney and Sandra Bullock – at times appeared in face only, with their spacesuit-enclosed bodies being computer-generated.”

In India also,an Ernst & Young’s report titled, “Film Industry in India: New Horizons”, describes the various new working styles and processes of the Indian film industry and the key drivers behind its immense growth. The report in the process of describing landmark phases of evolution of the Indian film industry also discusses the growing significance of Visual Effects (VFX) industry as a rapidly evolving segment in India and its key trends as well as some of the challenges it is undergoing.

The internet source”Effects Corner: Value of Visual Effects” discusses the importance and value of visual effects in terms of its impact on films, its overall output and  the resulting influence on the opinion of viewers. The blog discusses the innumerable benefits of visual effects whether it is from the freedom of story-telling given to the film makers or its special usage in a particular genre of film or for the modification of certain live action scenes. The source is very significant in the direction of discussing the various areas where visual effects are normally used as well as the various latest tools used in the field. The blog also discusses some of the prominent reasons as to why visual effects at times are not able to give a good result or click with the minds of the viewers.

The internet source VFX- Animation Boss& VFX Effects use din Bollywood List of 10 Movies describes the various technicalities involved behind the scene with extensive usage of visual effects. The source displays some of the visual effects employed in Bollywood films with various images before and after the usage of visual effects helping us to understand the procedure of visual effects and how it gives the final desired results.

Objectives

  • To study the impact of visual effects on the perception and the viewing experience of young cinegoers.
  • To understand the usage of visual effects across various genres and its impact on the choices of movie goers

Methodology

Data Collection

Taking into consideration the topic of the research work and also its technicality, a review of the existing studies was done in order to understand the research done so far in the area. To further analyze how visual effects influence the perception and the opinion of the film viewers and do they feel that this technology adds to the appeal of Bollywood films and its success factor, a primary research was done on the basis of the Questionnaire Method.

Sample Design

A random sample of 100 young film viewers, students in the age group (18-21) of Jaipur was selected to gather primary data on their opinion and choices about the various aspects of the impact of visual effects on their perception.

Results and Findings

Data so obtained was analyzed on the basis of percentage method and presented below from Tables 1-10.

  1. Films viewers watch

Question:”Which type of films do you watch?”

Table 1

  • Out of the total respondents, 76% watched both Hollywood and Bollywood movies. 14% of them watched only Hollywood movies and the remaining 10% watched only Bollywood.

Key Findings

The results clearly demonstrated that almost three-fourths of the respondents watched both Hollywood and Bollywood movies and thus they had a clear idea about both types of films and could compare between the two. The second highest score was of Hollywood movies but just 14% and the least number of respondents were those who only watched Bollywood movies.

  1. Visual effects making the films more entertaining and attractive

“Do you feel visual effects have made Bollywood films more entertaining and attractive?”

Table 2

  • Out of the total respondents, 98% felt that visual effects have made movies more entertaining and attractive and just 2% were of the opinion that visual effects did not contribute to making films more entertaining and attractive.

Key Findings

Almost all the respondents considered visual effects as a major factor behind making the films more entertaining and attractive and very much different from other films. The overwhelming response of the respondents in support of visual effects made it clear that the technology greatly influences the viewing experiences of the film goers

  1. Preference for Hollywood movies over Bollywood movies because of better visual effects

“Do you prefer Hollywood movies in comparison to Bollywood movies because of their better visual effects?”

Table 3

  • 64% of the respondents strongly agreed that they preferred Hollywood movies because of their better visual effects. 24% of them agreed to the statement, 10% disagreed and 2% strongly disagreed.

Key Findings

The responses revealed a very important reason behind respondents preferring Hollywood movies in comparison to Bollywood movies and it was because of the visual effects. The results made it clear that visual effects can be a major factor behind the viewer’s preference for a film, makes it very interesting and stand out from other films in the market. It also explains why the film stays in the minds of the viewers for long.

  1. The aspect of film making which is influenced most by visual effects

“Which aspect of film making do you feel can be influenced to the greatest extent by the usage of visual effects

Table 4

  • 56% of the respondents considered storytelling to be the aspect highly influenced by the usage of visual effects. An equal number of 22% of the respondents thought that visual effects have got maximum impact on creating background and creating virtual shots.

Key Findings

The results demonstrated that more than half of the respondents strongly felt that visual effects can have a tremendous impact on the style of story-telling in a film. Certain scenes of a film can be shot only with the help of visual effects and thus enable the film maker to bring a great change in the style of story-telling

  1. Appeal of unique worlds and characters created by visual effects on the viewers

“Do you feel that the unique worlds and characters created by visual effects appeal more to the viewers?

Table 5

  • An overwhelming majority i.e. 76% of the respondents strongly supported the statement that the unique worlds and characters created by visual effects greatly appeal to the viewers. 16% of the viewers did not express their opinion as they were not able to comment on the statement and a nominal 8% said that they did not feel that visual affects appeal to the viewers.

Key Findings

The results made it clear that visual effects influenced the perception of the largest number of viewers in a positive way. Three-fourths of them thought that the unique characters, backgrounds and the entire world created by visual effects has a totally different impact on the viewers which is very positive, strong and highly appealing.

  1. Quality of visual effects adds to the box-office success of a film

“Do you agree with the fact that quality of visual effects adds to the box-office success of a film?

Table 6

  • 68% of the respondents were of the opinion that visual effects add to the box-office success of a film. 20% of them were not able to comment on the question and 12% did not agree that visual effects were a major factor behind the success of a film.

Key Findings

The response of the respondents clearly establishes that visual effects are one of the strongest reasons behind maximum footfalls in theatres and it is the sole driving factor which attracts the audiences to watch a film resulting in box-office success. The results show that films which have used visual effects have far greater chances of being a hit than others.

  1. Visual effects make a film unrealistic

“Do you feel that visual effects sometimes make a film look unrealistic?

Table 7

  • 50% of the sample agreed or completely agreed to the question that visual effects sometimes make a film look unrealistic whereas 40% disagreed or strongly disagreed to the question and a nominal 10% of the respondents did not have any idea.

Key Findings

The opinion of the largest number of respondents was that visual effects have contributed highly to making films more entertaining, appealing and interesting and they have been highly successful at the box-office but they also felt that visual effects also make films look unrealistic when certain scenes look very unrealistic. The results also highlighted that an almost equal number of respondents disagreed that visual effects make films look unrealistic. They were of the opinion that the visual effects technology has developed a lot lately and with the employment of advanced 3D software and digital technology, visual effects rather make scenes with virtual shots look very realistic not even giving the viewers a chance to realize that that the film has used visual effects in those scenes.

  1. Visual effects enable film makers to project their imagination and creativity on screen

“Do you agree that visual effects have enabled the film makers to bring their desired imagination and creativity on screen?

Table 8

  • 56% of the sample agreed that visual effects have given the film makers an opportunity to project their imagination and creativity on screen. 32% of the respondents completely agreed, 6% disagreed and 6% had no idea .

Key Findings

The results revealed that more than half of the respondents believed that visual effects have given a different dimension to the Indian film makers and it has greatly enabled the film makers to experiment a lot with their imaginations and to bring out their creative idea onto the screen. The respondents also said that it would not have been possible to make many films which had unique stories or characters which are very difficult to shoot without the use of the highly advanced visual effects technology.

  1. Visual effects give value for money to the viewers

“Do you agree with the fact that visual effects give value for money to the viewers?

Table 9

  • 58% of the respondents thought that films using visual effects gave value for money to the viewers. 14% of the viewers thought in the opposite manner and the rest 28% of them did not give any opinion on the question.

Key Findings

The result of the study was highly significant as it clearly established the utility of visual effects in Bollywood films. Most respondents were of the opinion that films based on visual effects were highly interesting and unique from others in many aspects and so they considered such films gave them the full return of their money. The results clearly demonstrated that film makers should invest more in making films with more visual effects as viewers appreciate such movies more.

  1. Category of films best suited for visual effects

“Visual effects are best for which category of films?

Table 10

  • 46% of the respondents were of the opinion that action-based films are most suitable for visual effects followed by fantasy as 32% of the sample were in its favor and 20% of them considered fiction films to be the most suitable and 2% thought period films to be the most suitable ones to make use of visual effects.

Key Findings

The results made it clear that viewers considered that certain categories of films can be made in the best possible manner only with the help of visual effects. Almost half of the respondents were of the opinion that action based films require visual effects to the greatest extent and this category of films can be made in a very different, interesting and creative manner only with the usage of  visual effects. The second highest preference was given to fantasy films. The viewers were of the opinion that such films require large scale visual effects because they mostly deal with an imaginary world and characters which are far from reality and such stories can be brought out flawlessly on screen only with the help of visual effects. The last two preferences of the viewers were of fiction and period based films, which according to them don’t require so much of visual effects to tell the story to the audiences.

Conclusion and future directions

Study of various existing works related to the topic and the results of survey establishes that although the visual effects technology has existed for long, it has also been developing with each new passing day and now it has become an integral part of the film making procedure of some of the very creative film makers. The data collected from the primary research work revealed a major fact that young Indian viewers highly appreciate and are greatly moved by those Bollywood films which are based on highly advanced visual effects technology. Indian viewers also expressed their opinion strongly in favor of the fact that Bollywood films which had made use of this technology were a remarkable success story at the box-office and such films give complete value for money to the viewers.The results make it very clear that visual effects contribute tremendously to making the films more interesting and attractive and their overall creative element highly influences the perception of the Indian cine goers and is a key driving factor behind the increased number of footfalls in the theatres.

A major observation of the study was that the viewers’ preference for a particular genre of Bollywood movie was very much linked to the usage of visual effects. The largest number of respondents was strongly of the view that in the contemporary world entertaining and successful action films are almost impossible to make without the help of visual effects as such films demand lots of movement and fast action-based shots. The second highest number of preferences was secured by fantasy films as they also deal with an imaginary world involving many difficult shots which though unrealistic in practical life are made realistic on screen through the technology of visual effects. The findings of the study explicitly make it clear that visual effects also influence the genre of movies as viewers consider certain genres to be best suited for the usage of visual effects.

The study also indicates that as young Indian viewers are captivated by Bollywood Films which are based on visual effects, there is a lot of scope for further development of this technology and its widespread application in Indian films. So, if India being one of the highest producers of films, also wants to earn the fame of being one of the highest producers of successful films, then it needs to further advance this technology in order to make Bollywood come somewhere near to the success ratio of Hollywood films.

Bibliography

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