Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How VFX Industry got insulted at The Oscars 2013

A video is worth a million words...

What's even more dis-heartening that they keep taking these videos down from YouTube and even Vimeo.

Many  (nearly 500) visual effects professionals marched on Hollywood Boulevard and outside The Dolby Theater urging the film industry to focus on their economic problems. R&H, the VFX studio behind Life of Pi, filled a chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 13. Scott Ross tweeted:

The message is simple: VFX artists create incredible images that translates into huge box office. BUT, VFX companies are going out of business.
Many kept an eye on the acceptance speech in which the VFX guys were going to talk about their economic sufferings. But, something else happened.

First, presenters of the visual effects Oscar Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Samuel L. Jackson,(most of them who've atleast one time been a VFX superhero),insulted the VFX guys by making jokes about "giving them the respect that they deserve" (they joked it like it was a sarcasm).

Just as Bill Westenhofer started his acceptance speech. The 'play-off' music began to rumble (ironically from movie "Jaws"). Before Westenhofer could finish his statement, his mic was cut off followed by a commercial break.

Then, accepting the Best Director award, Ang Lee failed to thank any visual effects members (the cinematographer also failed to do the same). He did thank the pool crew, but forgot the crew who turned that pool into an ocean.

Those who say that Westenhofer's speech was above time limit, it is not true, play the Oscars video and use a stopwatch. You'll find that he's been given a very short time in comparison to others (a very large discrimination).

Scott Ross posted to VFX Solidarity International:
I have no horse in this race.
I do not own a VFX facility, I am not a VFX supervisor worried about pissing off clients and being blackballed. I am not (as much as I have tried) a movie producer. I am not a studio executive (thank god). I am not a VES member. I belong to no Union.
I am an individual that has spent the better part of my entire life managing large VFX companies. Contrary to what some might say, I do understand the current situation. In fact, given my unique position I believe that I see the situation very clearly. Given my actions, I believe that the rank and file see that I do.
I implore you…. do not have a walk out. Not yet. Let a committee be formed to come up with a strategic plan.
The passion is there. The problems are evident. The storm is brewing.
But…. let’s make sure that we do not act out of pure passion. Let’s be strategic.
Let’s win the war….. not the battle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Interview with India's Boy Genius

Courtesy: iLLgaming
Written by Sidharth Beckaya.

Shivam Sai Gupta
Shivam Sai Gupta

IllGaming had the opportunity to sit and talk with India’s gaming whiz kid, Shivam Sai Gupta. This guy started creating games at the tender age of 11. Now he is all grown up at 17 and making his country proud on a global stage. But, life was always not so giving to this kid, he had to jump over various hurdles and counter numerous challenges to reach this stage and he still has a long way to go. Let’s see what he has to say:
  • Tell us something about yourself?
I’m a class-X student, currently focused on my board exams. I live in Patna, Bihar with my family, and absolutely love creating stuff on the computer. My childhood was quite rough due to financial troubles. I can still sense those hardships, but looking back at all that now, I think that is what has developed me into the boy I am today. 
  • What prompted you to become an animator/game designer, even when the resources/facilities available at your disposal were scarce?
If you really look at the core, you’ll observe that resources don’t matter. If you are really passionate enough for something, sooner or later you’ll make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re resource constrained or training constrained. What matters is that you’re willing to do everything possible in order to achieve the goal.
  • Coming from a humble background, how coarse was the path to success, and how well are you managing this recognition?
As I said earlier, I’ve faced numerous financial and family struggles during my childhood years. One thing I’ve learnt is that it is the struggles and hardships prepare us for success. I think God throws us a test of struggle to make sure that we can handle the success. It is these hardships that make success so worthy.
I noticed that I made the best video games and visual effects when I was in pain. Most innovations occur when a person hits rock bottom. There is a pattern you can see that justifies this statement. William Kamkwamba created his wind mill when his country was stricken with a famine. Tony Robbins succeeded after he hit the rock-bottom (he even slept in his car). The list can go on and on. When we experience pain, we have nothing to lose; we are already in pain and no reason not to follow our passion.
Critics and comments only increase when you start getting more successful. As you climb up the ladder, your “friends” who are mediocre will try to pull you back down, because you remind them of their failures and shortcomings. This keeps happening to me, don’t give in to the critics. Include more passionate, uplifting, positive people in your social circle who are willing to climb up the success ladder with you and encourage you.
  • You are the wonder kid of the Indian gaming world; at the tender age of eleven, you were developing video games when other children were busy playing those games. Who all and what all inspired and motivated you?
I was simply exploring software installed by default on my computer. Back then, there were very few animators in Bihar. No one was there for help. At first, I figured out 2D animation in Corel R.A.V.E. Then out of the intense passion and curiosity to create my own virtual world/ video-games, I made my first game in Power Point. Yes PowerPoint, at that time I didn’t even know of the existence of game engines. My school was teaching how to change a text’s color in Word back then. You can say that I learnt by trial-and-error.
I loved playing video-games but the power to control and turn my imagination into reality was even more appealing to me. When I create games or visual-effects it feels like a dose of aspirin and a dopamine rush. Any pain magically disappears when I get fully immersed in developing games or VFX.
  • You have travelled various countries and met some great people. How does it feel to stand amongst the big guns and deliver a few words of your own?
I feel extremely honoured to meet and spend time with the people who are at the top of their game. I try to learn as much as I can from them. Having mentors is always a good idea. The encouragement and motivation I get from them is invaluable.
  • Your game ‘Project Fateh’ was a very brave and touching step forward. How did you come up with this idea?
It is a game based on the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks. I got the idea when I was watching the horror telecast live sitting back at my home in Patna. I was 13 back then, tears were trying to burst out of my eye and at the same time I was feeling very angry at the inhumane terrorists. I felt very sad and wanted to do something. Then I got the idea to create this game as a tribute to the unfortunate people who lost their lives and their friends in 26/11 attacks.

Project  Fateh: Terror Attack
Project Fateh: Terror Attack

My aim was to encourage people to join the Indian Armed Forces and fight against terrorism. The game won the best game in India award by Intel in 2010. Obviously it was not easy to create such a game without sacrifice. I had to balance between school, social life and the game. But nothing worth having comes easy. UTV IndiaGames played a big role in supporting me and they published the game. Without them I could not have finished this game. I’ve also created visual effects, short films for film festivals including the Venice Film Festival.
  • Any current or future projects you would like to shed some limelight on?
I am currently preparing for my board exams. Along with that, I’m working on a game “Tasty Kingdom” which aims at reducing child obesity. There are a few other projects which I’d like to keep a cover on for the time being. I’ll be starting a company soon after my boards.
  • What do you think of the Indian Gaming industry and where do you think it is heading?
The Indian gaming industry is growing at a very fast pace (especially mobile gaming). It is definitely heading in the right direction. The video game industry as whole is expected to grow to $360 million in 2012, up 40 percent compared to the previous year. Bollywood games are being developed now like never before. But when it comes to independent game developers, to be honest, I think India is not a market to depend upon, right now. Many Indian indie game developers are having a hard time if they develop games full-time. But I believe it’ll get better in the coming years.
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years with respect to the growing Indian gaming scenario?
In the next 5 years, I see myself taking every opportunity and giving my best at it. I see myself gaining more knowledge, more expertise as well as being open-minded. I plan to continue my education as well as work part-time.

Note: This post is an excerpt from the full article at