In conversation with Baahubali's cast and crew

Finishing touches to the Baahubali dream

Baahubali   | Photo Credit: arr

Beginning October 2015, RC Kamalakannan worked a little more than 18 months as visual effects supervisor for Baahubali 2. When he watched the film in a hall packed to capacity, he was moved to tears as people clapped and cheered through the coronation sequence, among many other portions that had gone through painstaking visual effects. “It’s crazy. The audience is screaming and cheering. What more can make us happy?” he says.

‘Sye’ to ‘Baahubali 2’

Kamalakannan first worked with director S S Rajamouli in Sye (2004). “We tried a few elements, it was just the beginning,” he reflects. They went on to collaborate in Yamadonga, Magadheera and Eega, stepping up the intensity with each film. Baahubali – The Beginning had Srinivas Mohan as VFX Supervisor. Kamalakannan was roped in for The Conclusion. “In October 2015, when I became a part of the team, everyone knew their precise tasks and systematically executed them. I was intimidated to begin with,” he says.

R C Kamalakannan, director S S Rajamouli and cinematographer K K Senthil Kumar on the sets of the film

R C Kamalakannan, director S S Rajamouli and cinematographer K K Senthil Kumar on the sets of the film  

The visual effects were handled by 35 studios across the world. “We split the work between these studios according to tasks, not scenes,” he says. Each shot requires several layers of visual effects to arrive at the desired output and work was commissioned going by the strengths of these studios. “Each of these studios may work on a different platform, but we created a common pipeline to seamlessly share the shots between the studios.”

Hyderabad-based Makuta VFX took charge of a chunk of work that went into Mahishmati palace and kingdom, among other segments. To give an idea of the quantum of work, Kamalakannan discloses, “About 15% of the palace was created as a set at Ramoji Film City. The rest were possible through digital extensions. Similarly, 30 to 40% of Kuntala kingdom was a set and the rest was achieved through VFX.”

Coronation segment

Kamalakannan’s favourite is the coronation segment, followed by the swan ship that soars, and the portion involving flaming oxens during the invasion of Kuntala kingdom. “The coronation sequence was shot after the war portion and we worked on its VFX for 100 days. Rajamouli made a rough sketch, sent it to Keeravani and the music was recorded. Scenes were cut accordingly. It was a tightly edited segment and not one VFX shot was removed later,” he says. For this portion, VFX studios from Serbia and Tashkent were also roped in, “These countries are not normally on the map of VFX.”

Baahubali

Baahubali   | Photo Credit: arr

The teams had to race against time to meet the April 28, 2017 deadline. “We had a meeting at RFC in November 2016 where producer Shobu Yarlagadda announced the release date. Since it was a big project which everyone was waiting for, I didn’t understand the need to be in a hurry. It was tough to digest, considering the work that had to be done,” he says. A week later, he came to terms with the task ahead and assured the producers that the deadline would be met with. Gruelling hours of work followed and the postproduction was completed 10 days ahead of release.

Security breach was a concern as the team wanted to ensure that no shot, scene is leaked. Each studio was given a unique user id and password, and studios had several licences while working on the shots. If anyone were to log in, the others would get an alert. Kamalakannan chose a data storage centre in Germany and storage space of 8 terrabytes was bought for the film. “Their server is secure and I had worked with them before,” he reasons.

Doordarshan beginnings

Kamalakannan’s first steps in the audio visual industry began as a stringer to Doordarshan. He subtitled video clippings to earn a decent sum. He recalls working on personal computers and bulky Silicon Graphic machines that were becoming popular. “Then I worked with P C Sreeram and Rajeev Menon on their ad films. Shankar’s Indian (Bharateeyudu in Telugu) was my first film. I did the titles,” he says. P C Sreeram’s Kadhalar Dhinam (Premikula Roju in Telugu) and a few Malayalam films followed. “They call me the dual action specialist in Kerala, since I’ve worked on stories involving double roles. Those were the days of manual scans for those shots,” he says.

Kamalakannan’s next are Sanghamitra (Tamil) and Prabhas’s next, Saaho, directed by Sujeeth. “Both are challenging projects,” he says.


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 6:59:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/r-c-kamalakannan-visual-effects-supervisor-for-baahubali-2-discusses-working-with-35-vfx-studios-and-highlights-the-best-segments/article18383360.ece

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