When I was a child my mother used to read me fairy tales and mythology and adventure stories. Those enchanting stories created in me an unending love towards reading. I used to imagine the places and magical worlds and try to draw them. Maybe that was my first step into the world of Mattepainting, even though I didn’t know it then.
Later when I started my career as a school teacher, almost 14 years ago, my passion towards art and colours continued. By then I was aware about digital media and its growing influence and thought it would be the best place to fulfil my passion.
I attended evening classes for a visual effects course. I tried my hand at software like 3dmax, Maya, Photoshop, Flash and After Effects etc. but I preferred Photoshop. It afforded me more scope and freedom to experiment and create.
I watched many tutorials and movies to learn more about the Mattepainting and managed to create my first Maya projection of Mattepainting. The live feel of the 2d Image in a 3D platform has given me more confidence and enthusiasm to explore more of the Mattepainting world.
Since then working in different studios with many artist, supervisors and departments I have been able to polish my skills as a Mattepainter. Working at The Mill has been the greatest opportunity because of the talent artists here and the quality of their work.
The day I became a member of The Mill family.
When I started my career in New Delhi, around 12 years ago, like any other newbie in the industry, I explored lots of different disciplines; be it modelling, texturing, shading, lighting, video editing and compositing. Whilst I was at Planman Animation studios, my mentor suggested I focus on light and shading as he could see my potential in this area.
After that I moved to Mumbai and got the chance to work at Tata Elxsi, and later Red Chillies VFX where I was groomed in Houdini, Maxwell, Vray & Arnold and worked on lots of Bollywood projects. Later, I worked with Double Negative (Mumbai), where I was taught Isotropix Clarrise to work on Star Trek Barco.
Today I am exploring my creative side at The Mill India. As it is having a commercial background, every project is different from one another. We face new challenges on daily basis but have a team of very passionate and talented artists and some amazing technology to work on.
The most delightful part about my role is the supervisor’s guidance and the team’s support. I also enjoy the creative and technical challenges which we encounter in every project. We work on various elements like organic, inorganic and environments etc. So this way our vision gets more broader and it gets more creative.
One of my proudest moment so far was in Red Chillies VFX, when case study of the aircraft sequence which I worked on in Krrish3 (2013) was featured in Next Limit's Maxwell Renderer website. It also got on to the cover page of Autodesk Magazine.
I hadn’t anticipated diving in headfirst into a career in VFX production, and had ambitions to develop a career in feature film animation. Despite the irony and cultural challenges of growing up in the Middle East where cinemas were restricted, it played a pivotal role in my breaking into a ‘non-academic’ field. I briefly moved to Mumbai and then the UK to pursue Filmmaking & Animation in Uni.
After graduating, I completed a couple of ad internship gigs in Saudi and relocated back to India where I was teaching for over two years imparting the theory of what I learned about this field in addition to a side hustle in Photography and Illustration. The experience was undeniably fulfilling when managing a zealous classroom full of future artists but it was then that I realized I really missed being in a high-octane studio environment!
I managed to work at DreamWorks Animation as a Production Assistant and eventually by a little twist of fate joined The Mill with the same role and gradually groomed myself to becoming a VFX Coordinator where I not only manage the creative team but get to watch artists unravel their wizardry.
Looking back, I'm convinced that although you might not be able to do it all at once, you can certainly try everything to discover what syncs with you.
I'm right where I want to be. In the middle of all the action sans film set! As much as I like a sense of order in my work, I am challenged with a new task or problem each day which allows me to break out of my comfort zone and think more laterally. I am fuelled by getting into the core of each project from breaking down the creative brief, to managing a schedule, bonding with the team and most importantly enjoying the 'process'. The people we've been having over every now and then from other units has been an invaluable experience as you gain new insights into the way you approach your work eventually creating a synergy between different practices.
Heading things needs years of hard work and learning. To lead any team, you need to have exceptional working and operating knowledge of the industry in which the company operates. I started working in production 17 years ago and I was fortunate to progress from
handling departments/projects in classical cel to Flash animation, and then to CG, 2D and 3D conversion before making it into the VFX side of the world. In between, I also got the chance to set-up and run a small facility serving local clients for promotional videos - this gave me a bit of insight into the business development part as well.
All the while, the higher-up took notice of this and kept exposing me to challenging roles in more senior ranks. A senior role is mostly to provide vision to the team while you build it through your experience and I am thankful to be exposed to these so far while still learning the ever-changing dynamics of industry (trends, techniques, platforms, budgets, talents, etc.).
Challenges in day to day running I would say. Every day in the advertising business is new - all that you have planned yesterday has a challenging curve to it the next day and you always end up juggling things and making calls based on dynamics with your team. I think every challenge you convert into an advantage and that’s what makes you and your team ready to take things to the next level.
Secondly, building and shaping up my team, seeing them contributing and aligning with rest of the group is a really exciting part of my job. It wouldn’t be possible without the support from the amazingly talented teams across group and at The Mill India.