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A visual treat: Wind beneath the wings

Master of digital after-effects, Merzin Tavaria, who played a key role in converting the Oscar-winning 'Gravity' from 2D to 3D, sheds light on the world of visual and special effects

How did you end up in this profession?
I have always been a movie buff since my college days and interested in games and graphics. I wanted to do something related to computers and took up a course in graphics. My fellow student, Namit Malhotra, who is the owner of Prime Focus, floated the idea of setting up an editing studio then. About four years later, we started doing special effects.


A studio at work

What was your breakthrough point?
We started with popular TV shows and then ventured into commercials. At one point of time, I was handling projects for tele serials and films as well as commercials. I would go to a theatre and find the ads on which I had worked were playing back-to-back. I remember we had just one-and-half months to work on Harry Potter, Green lantern, Transformers and a couple of Hindi films besides a South Indian one.

What are the pre-requisites for this profession?
One has to be patient as well as passionate and have a basic understanding of technology and softwares being used. You also have to be hardworking. This industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Employment opportunities are opening up in a big way.

'Gravity' was a visual treat. How challenging was the project?
There were crazy shots. Another team in London team was working on the project. It was completed within 1.5 to two years. We converted around 30 minutes of the film from 2D to 3D.

What has been the most challenging project till date?
The definition of challenging keeps changing every minute! Working on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film have been quite a challenge. Same goes for Aamir Khan’s Ghajini, not so much for its visual effects but because he is a perfectionist. Then there was Avatar and Clash Of The Titans. Right now, we are working on Sin City 2 as a whole. We are coordinating with the teams in Vancouver. Every year you get one or two projects which suck your blood but the result is always gratifying.

Where does Indian filmmakers’ sensibility stand in terms of special effects?
In 1976, when Hollywood was venturing into space and making Star Wars, we were moving back to the village with Sholay. That was the divide then and it existsnow too. There is tremendous potential in the visual
effects and animationgenres here but they need to be fully exploited.

Which is your favourite film?
Godfather. I also enjoyed Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Rock On. There are many Hollywood films where the story is a big, fat chocolate cake and visual effects are the icing on it. Many characters who do not exist during the shoot, are created through visual effects. 3D or stereo is a part of it. You take every frame of the movie and add depth and volume, giving it an immersive touch.

Wind Beneath The Wings is a weekly interview with behind-the-scenes stars of the film industry

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