Sri MGR Year 96, 16th March, Saturday
For the first time, two popular heroes, MGR and Raj Kapoor, will co-star in a film. Pentamedia graphics and 3d Max Media Inc., USA join hands to create this impressive digital entertainment (using cutting edge tools) for internet, cinema and TV. The Indo-US co-production’s pioneering project will bring two of the greatest movie stars of India alive, through digital animation and photo-realistic 3D graphics.
The producer of the movie, Srinivasan, CEO, 3dMax Media, said the film would be made in Tamil and Hindi. It will be family entertainer with lots of fun, action, melodious songs and stirring moments. The English version of the film will be released through the Internet.
The joint venture company will use Hewlett Packard’s high performance visual workstation and e-service frame work to deliver the unique project.
Srinivasan discussed the project in detail. Excerpts from the interview:
The idea of bringing superstars like MGR and Raj Kapoor back to life using 3D animation sounds fascination. Is it not a commercially risky venture?
At the outset, I want to stress that we will be bringing the actors alive using 3D animation, for a 90 minute duration. Any pioneering effort has its challenges and risks. Although there are commercial risks involved, we believe that on completion, we will have valuable software, animation and movie production technologies that can be used, for example, to make a Hollywood film by bringing Marilyn Monroe back to life. In the long run, this venture will prove to be profitable.
What about the technological challenges?
To complete this ambitious project, one requires a wide range of skills in system software, 3D animation, new 3D tools and cost effective digital movie production techniques.
To make this film a reality we will rely on Pentamedia Graphics Ltd., our partners.
Can you elaborate on the salient features of Interactive Cinema over the Internet? Is it practical?
With the internet bandwidth rapidly improving, Interactive Cinema is practical at least in the developing nations. Internet users can watch our film with a number of choices. For example, the user can decide whether he wants to see MGR in a single role, double role or triple role. He will also have a choice to MGR’s costume styles. The user can decide on whether the movie is to have a happy or sad ending. The background scenes can also be set according to his choice, in Paris, Bali or West Indies.
Besides, the user will also be able to watch the standard version of the film without any interactive functions.
Do you think this film may give India greater visibility in Hollywood?
I certainly think so. There is a lot of excitement about this film and this project has been widely covered in the far East and India. Everyone knows that India has the necessary software manpower to make this film happen. If we can make this film meet international standards, we will have an opportunity to enter Hollywood.
What prompted you to undertake this venture?
I saw an elderly lady in New York-Los Angeles flight, reading a book on Marilyn Monroe and she was interested in knowing about Marilyn Monroe who died long ago. That was when I decided that experiments on virtual actors should be done with dead ones. There is no better choice than MGR and Raj Kapoor.
How do you plan to combine animation and live action shooting?
We will first build the animated portion of MGR and Raj Kapoor by meticulously creating every move, expression and emotion. The massive library will be used to create the animated portions, depending on the script. Once it is completed, we will commence the shooting in digital format. It will then be merged with the animated portions using digital stapler technology. Then the digital content will be transferred to films for theatrical viewing.
Don’t you think nine months is too short a time with a small budget of 2-3 million dollars?
Yes, but we are trying to make this a reality. We are developing certain proprietary technology which will allow the automation of animator. That is why we are confident that we can deliver this movie on time. If one follows traditional methods of animation, such a movie will take at least two years with a budget of over 40 million dollars.
Why are you casting new heroines with MGR and Raj Kapoor?
First of all we want to follow the traditions of MGR and Raj Kapoor who have introduced dazzling stars in the movie industry. Second, we want the actresses and actors to be cost effective, flexible and open minded in trying new digital technologies.
The above article was published in The Hindu dated 7 August 2000. That was the first animation movie for our beloved MGR. The project did not commenced.
In another 5 to 10 years with animation software growth we will be watching many yesteryear hero movies.