Archive for February, 2011

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‘Maya Digital Media‘ promoted by renowned Indian Film Producer/Director Ketan Mehta and acclaimed Actress, Producer and Director Deepa Sahi has joined hands with veteran Film Producer, Director Subhash Ghai‘s Mukta Arts to create the state of the Art Computer animation and Digital Visual Effects Studio ‘Maya Digital Studios”.

Ketan Mehta said, “Digital technology is completely changing the way we produce, distribute and consume entertainment. The concept of bringing the latest innovations in technology, combined with highly skilled manpower needed to provide the best available tools for Indian and International filmmakers to realize their illusions were the initial dream of Maya and now we are ready to deliver”.

Maya, started in 1997, has over the last 14 years done high quality, award winning animation and visual effects for established international clients. With investments from Intel Capital and Enam Securities Maya expanded to be one of the largest computer animation facilities in India. During this time it also started a very successful Computer Animation education programme called MAAC (Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics) which soon spread to over 70 centres all across India.

Last year the investors decided to split the studio and education divisions and Ketan Mehta and Deepa Sahi, the original promoters, regained 100% ownership of the studio business. “We want to make Maya into a world class studio which can compete internationally and we zeroed onto Frank Foster the pioneer of Computer Animation in Hollywood to run the studio and take it to the next level” commented Mehta.

Frank Foster, American CG veteran, former original founding Vice President of ‘Sony Pictures Imageworks‘ USA, has taken over as Senior Director and COO of the studio operations of the company. Foster brings a wealth of experience in studio management having set up Sony Picture Imageworks USA, the first major CG school and studio in China (Shenzhen) and producing one of the first CG feature films in China with French comic book legend “Moebius”. Foster also spent two years as CEO of Tigar Hare Studios in North Hollywood where he outsourced many projects to India.

Maya Digital studio is now on a rapid expansion mode and is adding state of the art studio facilities at Film City, Mumbai and Goa.

Mukta Arts Ltd, the leading Film production and distribution house in India headed by Subhash Ghai, one of the most well known film makers from India, pioneered the corporatization of the Indian film industry. It also operates the prestigious ‘Whistling Woods Film Academy‘ which plans to work closely with Maya on professional workshops and internships.

Ravi Gupta of Mukta said “The synergy between Maya and Mukta Arts will bring about a qualitative change in Indian film industry. Technology and creativity is going to drive the future of entertainment and this studio will be at the cutting edge of this trend for India.”

When asked why he would be willing to shift his family to India Foster responded, “There are so many new opportunities now for digital filmmaking in India, when we started, outsourcing was considered too risky, now it‘s the other way around. Having done it in so many countries for these many years I‘m believe that India is unusually qualified because of its education system, the common use of English and through its large domestic film industry, which allows the actual understanding of Cinema. I’m convinced it’s becoming the international hub for Computer Animation and that Maya Digital Studios with nearly 14 years of experience can be the top destination for that international business”.

What all will be taught in the new Houdini focused course that Frameboxx is launching?
Houdini follows a true procedural paradigm, which makes Houdini more suited for broadcast design and motion graphics. And when it comes to VFX, Houdini holds a prime and prestigious position in the industry all over the world. Main focus of our course curriculum would be particles and dynamics, also CHOPS or Channel operators a very powerful and under-utilized tool. But the Main aim of our course would be for a student to understand and embrace the procedural way of working.

What are the CG production areas where Houdini finds application in?
Houdini can be used anywhere in whole production pipeline. It is an excellent procedural modeler, an excellent character animation tool. But the Industry relies on the Houdini for most of their particles and dynamics related stuff.

Why did Frameboxx think of launching a Houdini focused course?
We foresee a major boast in applications of Visual Effect in our industry. In the near future we see a lot of production house incorporating Houdini in their pipeline. Frameboxx had been researching on Houdini for the past 3 yrs, and is working in close association with Side Effects. Houdini curriculum is the outcome of inputs taken from Side Effects, along with suggestions of Houdini users in the industry. We are confident that this curriculum would suffice the needs of Animation and VFX Industry.

What is the USP of Houdini according to you in comparison to other CG and VFX suites?
The USP of Houdini is its proceduralism. The entire application is built on the idea that you do not necessarily create things, but you create systems for creating things. Houdini is unlike other 3D packages in that the entire application is node-based. So, you can easily wire the output from one node into several other nodes to create complex systems. Houdini has fantastic dynamics and particles – probably the best in the industry. They are the most flexible.

You can literally deconstruct the solvers and build them back up again to change their functionality. You can even create your own solvers or implement 3rd party solvers with some technical know-how. Also, the dynamics are fully integrated. Cloth and rigid bodies can affect each other. Gasses and fluids can push particles and rigid bodies. As far as dynamics go, you have rigid bodies, cloth (softbodies), wires, fluids (SPH, FLIP, and Voxel), gasses, and particles.

Tell us a little about yourself and your experience working with Houdini?
I started my career in 1999 as a lead designer for a Delhi based web designing firm. Later I joined Pentamedia Graphics as a 3D Animator, where I worked on 3D animated films like Pandavas and Alibaba. In 2001, I joined a major animation training brand as a senior instructor. From there I moved on to motion graphics and design by joining TV Today Network in 2002. With four years of experience in broadcast design and channel packaging for Aaj Tak and Headlines today, I joined the TV18 Network now called Network 18.

My return to training and education was in 2007, when I started to create animation and visual effects curriculums. At Frameboxx, I bring over 10 years of Production and education experience and I am deeply involved with the curriculum, research and technical operations teams. I have been working on Houdini for the past 3yrs. The sheer technicality of the software is a kick in itself. Moreover I get to expand my knowledge about a lot of things which I normally would have overlooked.

Frameboxx Animation and Visual Effects has announced a dedicated training program on Side Effects Software‘s specialized 3D animation and VFX suite Houdini. The first batch of Houdini will start in the first week of April 2011. In the beginning, the Houdini course will only be offered at the Andheri, Mumbai Frameboxx center. After the successful execution of the first batch the institute plans to start this course in other zones as well.

The preliminary round of seminars and boot camps for this course are starting from 17th Feb 2011 followed by a 5 day boot camp starting on 22nd Feb 2011. Similar exercises will continue in the month of March as well.