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Please tell us about yourself

The visual effects industry in India is barely two decades old, but has been working on some major Hollywood projects as well as doing some groundbreaking work in Indian features as well from time to time.

Although the industry is young, there are many who have witnessed its growth over the course of these years but very few have managed to stand the test of times. One such individual is Reupal Rawal, probably among a handful of visual effects supervisors from the fairer sex, who has been in this space for over 18 years and worked on over 100 feature films.

TheGraphicSlate.com had the opportunity to chat with ‘the birthday girl’ a few days back on her journey so far and what’s the way ahead.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

In 1998, I finished my graduation and had aspirations of becoming an architect; I studied Commerce at the reputed Shri Chinai College of Commerce and Economics, followed by a Diploma in Computer Programming and a Diploma in Computer Arts with GFX, Animation and Multimedia from Edit Institute. And since I felt that there has been so much investment in my education, I wanted to do something creative – that’s when my aspirations took wings and I stumbled upon Crest Animation’s advertisement on television.

Please tell us about your career path

I came across Crest Animation’s name and went for an interview and saw nearly hundreds of young potential candidates turning up for an interview and work with one of the best Animation studios in the country then. Out of the hundreds only 12 got selected and I was among the crčme de la crčme. I began my career as an animator and got to work on some great movies then. I learnt modeling, texturing, lighting, animation, and did a lot of ad films too. We were only 25 in strength for the CG department, but the cell animation team was huge. I worked there for nearly two years, but wanted to learn a lot more and experiment in other areas as well, that’s when I joined Space Vision Studios and was also doing some work for Electronic Arts.

Next I began work for Star India around 2000 as head of the graphics team, working with Peter Mukherjea and Sameer Nair, this was when Kaun Banega CrorepatiKyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thiand Kaahani Ghar Ghar Ki were ruling the roost in the Indian television landscape. At Star I got the opportunity to explore motion graphics and then expanding my skill-sets to online smoke editing.

Here is when I realized that I wanted to get into editing in a big way, and when I was looking for a change, I had two options in Prime Focus and Pixion. I chose to work with Prime Focus as after meeting with Merzin, I could see that there was a clear vision and a thirst to be the best in the business.

Any interesting events?

15 years is a long time in a person’s life, and to have spent that much of time at one organization, you kind of form a symbiotic relationship. I had the time of my life while working closely with Merzin to initially set-up pipelines and then work in building a great portfolio of work in the Bollywood industry.

After we commenced our initial steps in VFX, within months we were doing some great work in ad films and music videos. Then came the move into visual effects for feature films, those were great times as Namit used to crack some great deals and Merzin worked closely with the filmmakers and then we slowly expanded the team to 30 people. In terms of the softwares, Max was being used for 3D, whereas smoke was being used for compositing and flint flame and fire for editing.

After setting-up a new place, we started to build stronger pipelines with separate roto teams, clean-up teams and other specialties and by 2005 we grew to a team of 100. The first film that we worked on was Run starring Abhishek Bachchan, and then came No Entry and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, where we executed the first Milo shot in Indian cinema.

So in this 15 years I have really seen the VFX industry grow. I have seen times where no one considered VFX to be a part of the filmmaking process to now when directors and actors are open to the idea of exploring the space a lot more and also understanding how it works. There is still some time to reach the effects that Hollywood films get for their projects, but there was a time when there wasn’t an audience for accepting visual effects heavy movies, but the trends have changed for the better now.

Advice for young aspiring girls/boys?

All said and done, I have learnt along the way that the media and entertainment business is a tough nut to crack and it’s only a tad bit more difficult for girls/women to make their path in the industry.

I have had my share of hardships when I initially started work as a VFX supervisor, but it slowly became easier and easier when people from the industry started to take notice of my work. And the worst thing for anyone to do is to sit on past laurels as you are only as good as your last assignment.

I will only say that this industry is as accepting or as ruthless as you will mould your career and it’s important to work closely with your peers and clients to deliver the best work for a successful and long standing career in the future.

In my new role as creative director at Riva Animation & VFX, I will continue to stay true to my belief that we understand and respect creativity and will always push the envelope to do some great work in the VFX space.