Arrvind Armugam (37) is a visual effects (VFX) supervisor and filmmaker. A gold medallist in direction from the Film and Television Institute of Tamil Nadu, he was one of the first people to have mastered the editing software Avid. He teaches VFX and is writing his first Bollywood film.
What is your educational background?
I studied botany in school, after which I did the direction course. I have learnt everything else about VFX on the job, by working on films, talking to people and from the Internet.
What does it take to be a VFX expert?
A science, physics, math or art background is a huge boon for anyone trying to get into VFX for films. VFX expert tries to mimic real-life physics to be able to create a real-looking scene. Special effects and its entire body of work now fall under visual effects. It covers everything from shooting a bomb blast in films to action sequences.
Where does it figure in the process of filmmaking?
VFX starts from the storyboard stage and goes on to post-production. A VFX supervisor directs the scene with the director. First, crude figures of what has to be shot, according to the exact angle and type of shot, are created on a computer. Then the subsequent stages clean things up. It’s a long process. (Laughs).
The film Inception drew everyone’s attention to VFX. What about in Bollywood?
For a major technology shift to take place, we need to create one movie that becomes one of the highest grossers of all time. Only then will everyone wake up to it. The trend has always been that. Movies such as Titanic, Jurassic Park, Terminator and, recently, Avatar, have been enormously profitable.
When we were making movies such as Chandralekha (1948), we were on a par with Hollywood in terms of VFX. Then Star Wars came along and became one of the most profitable films of all time. Because stories are changing in Bollywood, technology too will change.