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Sandeep Varma

Co founder at Filmboard Movies Pvt Ltd

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After Food Tech, Fintech etc , A Case Of Entertainment Tech?

Tech is going to disrupt everything. Either we join it, or the only change we will see is like all those brick and mortar set ups in other sectors being run to dust.

In all these years of working as a director and writer (almost 20 years), I've always wondered how, for such a technology dependant industry, we remain so poor in the deployment of technology in the way we plan and execute our projects. Probably, this had to do with my being an engineer by training, and technology was not supposed to be looked at in awe, but simply a tool to make things better.

Off late, with technology developing as fast as it has, still, all we talk about in entertainment in India is buzz words like OTT/ straight to digital/ease of the internet for young 

filmmakers to release their films etc.  All of this is on the distribution side. What about while the content is being produced? 

For example, we now see even small real estate builders using walk throughs for their upcoming projects, where a prospective customer can actually visualise how it will be to walk through the apartment which she hopes to buy. And yet, we have  sets planned for shoots, or real locations (like a monument or a street), or even a studio floor which needs to be done up with art direction. And the whole process is still by trial and expensive error? Ok so we know the really big films with very expensive sets do this/ get overseas experts to do it. But even the smaller films, or web series should have this accessible since its not just about cost-saving. It also will lead to much better planning - hence better quality. 

Imagine an Indian techie start up coming up with ways to recreate a digital model of a set/ real location not just for the architecture but with actual lighting (the cameraman comes in the say where she plans to place the lights), the director mimics camera movements to figure how the shot would look? Such a software can be available for a pay-per-use kind of system, and can lead to millions of rupees and weeks of timelines saved.

This is the kind of technology which is freely available even in India. How about going a little ahead in the curve?

Research and development is going on worldwide to make robots appears more human like and sound more human like. 'Sophia', who was created back in 2016, 

and has already appeared in shows like The Tonight Show and Good Morning Britain, had many viewers fooled till they were told that she's actually not a human being.

We also know that for a director, the right actor for even a walk on part becomes critical to cast. All its not necessary for the most suitable choice to walk into

one's office or one's casting director's office when a notice is circulated. So remote virtual auditions on public video platforms like Skype and Hangouts have gained ground.

But the challenge remains - who will give the counter character's cue? Often the scene being auditioned is a two character audition. If a casting director's team is doing a remote live audition,

Its pretty unwieldy to talk across the screen to give cues. And if its not live, the poor actor needs to record the video and send - who gives the other character's cues then? Often, its an uninterested sibling or friend. Or sometimes even the house maid. How many actors can act to a dead set of cues like that?  Now imagine 100 typical characters being fed into a audition software. You just select the closest character/gender/age, fill in the scene script, and voila - you get the cues from your camera phone.

Sounds incredulous? Well, wait and watch just a few months. At most a year. When Hollywood does it, we will embrace it , after some cynicism. Why not originally in India? 

Says Vinay Mishra, Co-founder of Humaramiovie - one of the pioneers and largest producers of short form content in India : 

 Technology obviously impacts the final film. However, in India, I think the greatest impact would be in the process. It will give larger visibility to the producer and director to each department & since filmmaking is collaborative it helps. There are a lot of moving parts in filmmaking -  and use of technology  will allow a seamless integration. It’s definitely a win.

Of course, there remain many naysayers. I met one a couple of days back. He's been part of the industry for 30 years and is pretty well known. According to him,

he knows all the Digital Intermediary (DI) studios in Mumbai and they don't number more than 30-40. Well, I told him if he hands his film project to me for DI, I will get it done for one-tenth of the cost he would pay these studios and with as good quality. How? Through an IITian student who, along with his friends , has a powerful laptop, downloaded the software, and learnt how to do DI with online tutorials.  And there aren't 30-40. There are thousands and lakhs of these across India, coming into various parts of the entertainment content creation. At my start up Filmboard Movies, we are using technology in a big way to bring in more efficiency into the whole process of audio visual content creation. Its about time our production process becomes world class. 

Ramnarayan K.G., spent years in advertising and then at Viacom motion pictures doing movie marketing. Passionate about music, decided to jump out and help create music content through his start up Wobble Creative and Content. He had an audacious plan to have a 100 member music band for the LIVE 100 Experience project. However, he hit a wall the moment it struck him the number of music auditions he would have to do to be able to select 100 top quality musicians. The sheer physicality of that killed his enthusiasm. Well, most. Someone gave him an idea to develop an app and source auditions on that. 

Says Ram : 'Not only was that project completed seamlessly. It majorly helped us when we set out to register the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the LARGEST INDIAN CINEMATIC BAND with 1046 musicians in January 2020. I was skeptical about using tech for this but now I feel there's no way we could have achieved this without employing technology."

Vinay and Ram have embraced the idea of using technology in the process of content creation. Its great of course. But the fact is we don't have much choice. Tech is going to disrupt everything. Either we join it, or the only change we will see is like all those brick and mortar set ups in other sectors being run to dust. What should we call it- Entertainment tech? Or audio visual tech? (to include documentaries, news footage etc)? 

Hardly matters. The tech part is ubiquitous. 


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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