Ajax Media Tech, one of the many visual effects companies in India that was jostling for attention in a crowded space is drawing plaudits from cinegoers these days with the kind of VFX work it has dished out in the Jayam Ravi-starrer Tik Tik Tik that has been dubbed as the first Indian space film and that too all in just five months.
Until now, the visual effects industry in India has grown largely on overseas work. But, more and more filmmakers, and not just those working on big banners, are looking at leveraging a home-grown industry that can produce quality work. But, pricing remains a thorny issue in the film world where star salaries are seen dominating budgets.
When the makers of Tik Tik Tik approached Ajax Media Tech about producing the CGI believed to be around 90 minutes long, its CEO J. Muthurajan had to make a crucial call: quote a competitive price, yet deliver top-quality effects.
“We wanted to ensure that we do the entire film. Full marks to the management for taking this decision. Around 200 people worked on the project,” said a jubiliant S. M. Ramanathan, chief manager, Sales & Operations.
“I was personally there during the shooting to ensure we were on track. We were aware that the movie would be compared to international films such as Gravity and Interstellar. So, we didn’t want to create something that is bad,” said V. Arunraj, VFX supervisor, Ajax Media Tech.
Speaking about how they had to gain the trust of the makers at every turn, Mr. Arunraj said, “We created the visual effects and released the teaser in a week in August 2017. That is when the director became confident that we would deliver.”
While the decision seems to have paid off for the company, senior visual effects artistes working in major big budget productions are unhappy with its decision to cut down on costs as it would further slash prices.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a visual effects artiste well-known for his work in many south Indian blockbusters said Tamil film producers already think that it doesn’t cost much to produce visual effects. “This is going to collectively reduce prices in the industry. Computer Graphics (CG) cost money. The equipment is expensive and the cost of using skilled artistes is high. Slashing prices will only strengthen the perception that creating visual effects in films is cheap. Plus, we are always in competition with freelancers, who freely use pirated content,” the VFX artiste notes.