Days after bomb blasts devastated a cinema in the city, a group of about 150 cinema tech wizards in Hyderabad had some reason to celebrate.
The talented visual effects artists were part of the team from American firm Rhythm and Hues (R&H), which won the Best Visual Effects Oscar for Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’.
They may have been small part of the films’ 3000-strong production crew but they were, arguably, the most important element.
Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martell’s best-selling novel of the same name has been widely acclaimed for its’ groundbreaking 3D and Computer Generated Imagery and the Oscar is but the latest in a list of more than a dozen visual effects accolades for the VFX team.
The firm's City office was teeming with employees at 6am on Monday and screams of joy rang in the empty corridors when the award was announced, TNN reports.
The 150 artists worked from R&H’s’ Hyderabad base for more than a year, bringing to life the menagerie of animals that become stranded at sea alongside Piscine “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma), including the startlingly realistic Bengali tiger Richard Parker.
Critics have described the film – with its ‘hyper-realistic’ effects – as a “game changer”, 4 years after James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ re-invented the cinema visual effects.
But whilst the Hyderabadi crew – all outsourced Indian talent – celebrated, there was much less joy for the Hollywood-based parent company.
Days earlier, R&H – whose previous include the Lord of the Rings trilogy and ‘The Hunger Games’ – had filed for bankruptcy, leading to protests at the Academy Awards ceremony itself.
The bankruptcy led to a demonstration at the Oscar ceremony by some 400 VFX artists from R&H as well as other companies, protesting against the treatment meted out to them by Hollywood.
America’s effects industry has been decimated by competition from abroad, including in India and China, where tax incentives and plentiful human talent allow companies to underbid their more expensive US rivals.
But while they empathize with their US colleagues' plight, the Hyderabadi crew are not being detracted from their celebrations.
One graphic artist told the Times New Network (TNN): "Many of us put in 15-hour days when we were working on the Life of Pi but little did we realize that our work would be recognized with an Oscar. Only when it premiered we saw the scope of what we had created."
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