Teaching compositing in India

December 19, 2012

I’ve just completed 2 months work in Bangalore, training a group of compositors.
I last visited India 16 years ago and had been keen to get back and see how the country had changed. When the chance to work there came up I jumped at the opportunity.

Bangalore is all the cliches I remember about big Indian cities – a relentless assault of noise, smells and pollution. The big noticeable difference was that scattered throughout the city were modern, Western-style malls and tech-parks. The malls contained many brands that were recognizable from any British high street – you could sometimes easily forget you were in India as it was often indistinguishable from being in the Westfield Centre. I never thought I would “hang out in the mall”, but they were nice escapes from the craziness in the streets. The tech parks were also a new addition – Bangalore is now known as a hub for IT work and attracts lots of well educated Indians there for jobs. Many big global names in computing / IT were represented – it was astonishing how many had Bangalore offices. This appeared to have trickled down financially – there was a much more noticeable middle class. It’s still very much a developing country, but I wasn’t faced with the daily exposure to extreme poverty that had shocked me so much in Mumbai all those years back. However, it seemed that this recent rise in development had overtaken the infrastructure of the city. The roads were gridlocked with the most insane traffic I’ve ever seen and there were frequent power cuts. The tech park where I was working had all the same modern facilities you would expect from London offices, but you stepped outside some of the (heavily guarded) gates to be greeted with cows grazing on piles of garbage and crumbling roads with no street lighting.

I always thought that of all the places I’ve traveled, India was one of the most challenging and rewarding. The cities can easily grind you down (I never thought I’d long for the relative calm, quiet and efficient public transport of London), but it’s when you get into the rural areas that you realize what an amazing, beautiful country it is. My weeks were spent working 5 days, then trying to get away on as many weekends possible. Taking short trips to places like Hampe, Ooty, Goa and Kerala were the main way of keeping sane. Once you get some breathing space you really appreciate how awesome India can be. The people are genuinely friendly, kind and endlessly curious (apart from the Bangalore rickshaw drivers who are, without exception, crooks). The team I was working with were extremely keen and hard working, which made teaching them a great experience. I had been slightly nervous as I had never formally trained anyone before (although had been senior / lead / supervisor on previous projects, so was used to overseeing work and tutoring junior artists), but quickly found my groove with a mix of theory-based lectures and case-study projects. The artists were from a mix of backgrounds – some prep artists and others who had many years of Bollywood compositing experience.

India has so far been a place for out-sourcing paint / roto / matchmoving / assets work for many Western VFX and gaming companies. But it will, whatever your view on it, inevitably take on more and more advanced work. The Bollywood film industry is the largest in the world and they are producing ever more ambitious VFX based films. This will lead to more experienced Indian artists wanting to join companies working on Hollywood films. With many English and American VFX houses already having offices there, and some London VFX houses actually being owned by Indian companies, simple economics will dictate that they will send more of their work to India. It will be interesting to see how work in the VFX industry will shift locations over the next few years.

(Clockwise from left) Ravi, Manikandan, Sribalaji, Balaji, Sriram, me, Sreejith, Ashok, Venkatesh, Mirzha, Satheesh and Venkatesh

3 Responses to "Teaching compositing in India"

Hi rich first of all are we missing you so much( that smily face). We all are comping with the moments of those days. we are expecting your next visit to india.

Great to hear from you Satheesh! Hope everyone from the course is getting on well.
You have some really useful Nuke gizmos on your blog. I would recommend people to head over and check kit out!

venkatesh-ra says: August 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm

HI Richard how are you , we were all started to running with successful projects with the knowledge which we learned from you…….
Thank you rich….

don’t forget to inform us on your next visit to india.

Leave a comment