In Focus With an Oscar win, the team members of Rhythm and Hues studio are on a happy high

It’s a long process to get into the Rhythm and Hues building in Hitech city. As you move up to the 11th floor, you can feel the excitement build, there is a whole lot of hooting, cheering and screaming.

Sign into the visitor’s diary, step in to the office and you’ll feel like you are in college again. A group of young animators, artists, programmers are all rejoicing and their manager who is taking a video says, “Cheer up guys! I am going to send it to LA!” Rhythm and Hues has been in the news for reasons right and wrong, the visual effects company bagged an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Life of Pi , but according to Reuters, a few days before the ceremony, the company filed for bankruptcy when a deal with Prime Focus collapsed.

The excited members at the Hyderabad office are aware but this win hasn’t taken away all the gloom from the place. “We’re aware that it is a client-based industry and it will have its share of ups and downs,” smiles Varun Malhotra who worked on the lighting for the visual effects.

The visual effects industry, is as much mathematics as it is an art. “It’s an elegant marriage of technology and artistic vision,” says Abhishek Pareek, a programmer at the studios.

For Life of Pi , a team of more than 400-odd employees worked together at the studios, in collaboration with the studios based in Mumbai as well.

Everybody who has seen Life of Pi , knows that if it weren’t for the visual effects, there would be nothing in the film. “The initial part with the tiger in the zoo and the last bit where Richard Parker and Pi are dying, those scenes were extensively made here,” says Varun. The visuals of the island with the meerkats were also done in the Hyderabad studios. “There was special team dedicated to the island and one for the meerkats,” adds Varun.

The studios have a legacy behind and this isn’t their first Oscar, Rhythm and Hues won an Oscar in 1995 for Babe and then 2008 for The Golden Compass. Apart from this the studio has also received four Scientific and Technical Academy Awards. In 2013, the studios is producing VFX for Percy Jackson and the sea-monsters , 300: Rise of an Empire and RIPD (Rest in Peace Department) .

Animator Jyotikumar Parasrampuri talks about what makes their work stand out, “We are really good at making animals. We need to look at the small details.” “If you see Life of Pi again and really concentrate on the tiger, Richard Parker, you’ll see that it couldn’t get more real. We had to put in retractable claws when he attacks and then when he is walking, you wouldn’t see them anymore,” adds Varun. This hard work is not without its rewards, “It used to be about seeing my name in the credits at the end of a film before, now it’s about delivering a wholesome product liked by everyone,” says Varun. Visual effects give life to something non-existent and these guys at Rhythm and Studios are a passionate lot, Jyoti reflects upon this and says, “The best part about the job is telling a story and becoming a part of the story.”

VISHNUPRIYA BHANDARAM

It used to be about seeing my name in the credits at the end of a film before, now its about delivering a wholesome product liked by everyoneVarun Malhotra

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