Mon, Dec 5, 2016 | updated 06:05 PM IST

Prime Focus brings alive Banda Singh Bahadur, courtesy 3D, Animation

Updated: Nov 25, 2016 09:53 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov. 24 (ANI): When Harry Baweja's 'Chaar Sahibzaade' first hit cinema screens back in 2014, no-one would have guessed that it would go on to shatter box office records and become the highest-grossing Punjabi film of all time.

It was unprecedented for an Indian animation movie to find resonance with audiences across the country and achieve the kind of crossover success that Chaar Sahibzaade enjoyed. With its sequel, 'The Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur,' director Harry Baweja, not only sought to bring to the screen the glorious tale of one of the greatest of the Sikh warriors, but to also set new benchmarks in the Indian animation industry.

Prime Focus was the exclusive Animation and 3D partner for ' Chaar Sahibzaade: The Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur'. A team of 400 artists from Prime Focus' Mumbai and London facilities took on the massive challenge of making CG Animation look like live action, planning the entire look and design of the film shot-by-shot and animating each frame and character by hand, without the use of motion capture.

Right from the pre-production stages, Harry was particular about ensuring the historical accuracy of the movie in terms of wardrobe and architecture, as well as narrative. Prime Focus' team studied the architecture of the period through online research and books on the subject, along with the references provided by Harry's production team, allowing them to layout and structure entire cities.

The team also had to ensure that costume references provided by Harry were replicated to the finest level of detail in CG, in order for the entire setting to hark back to the Banda Singh Bahadur era and for the audience to recognize and connect with the historical Sikh setting.

Since the character design was already established in the prequel, the major task for the animation team was to work within these limitations to preserve the features of the characters while at the same time subtly enhancing their appearance by tweaking shaders and tuning facial complexions to make them look more dynamic and lively. While modeling the main protagonist of the film, special emphasis was placed on imparting him with a warrior profile whilst retaining the soft appearance of an Ascetic.

To create an army of thousands in the climactic battle sequence it was impossible to manually create multitudes of characters and animate them individually. The team overcame the challenge by employing distinctive crowd multiplication techniques, creating ten base models of soldiers, replete with textures and action variations, and then digitally creating duplicates to populate the huge battle scenes.

To add more life to the sequences, the FX team added a host of 2D effects, including fire, water and dust FX for more than half of the total number of shots in the film. In one of the major fight sequences involving a massive blaze, the FX team custom designed the fire, simulating unique fire effects and crafting a flame cycle to surround different areas of the burning village. Since the sequence occurs during the night, it became all the more difficult for the team to enhance the flames without compromising the dark of the moonlit sky. Virtual light sources were placed to brighten specific areas of the village in the hues of orange and red.

While most of the animation was carried out in India, creative direction, storyboarding, color grading and management of the 3D conversion was handled by the Prime Focus facility in London.

Talking about the project, Vijay Kakwani, Sr. VP, Animation Operations at Prime Focus World said, "It was a challenging yet exciting task for the Prime Focus team to help bring to life the legacy of Banda Singh Bahadur on big screen. The team's efforts to realize Harry's vision benefitted immensely from his intensive involvement in the project, and from his clear and wise guidance. We are confident that Chaar Saahibzaade 2 will set new standards in the Indian animation industry and hope that the film's success opens more avenues and creates more demand for animated films in India."

Talking from London, John Harvey, Creative Head, Prime Focus World - Animation said, "The most challenging aspect of this film was its sheer scale - not only in terms of the rich detail of the story but also in terms of the number of characters, the variety and detail in the wardrobe, the spectacular action set pieces and the authentic detail in the sets. It was a huge task, but the final result is worth all the hard work that went into creating it."

"I've always had a very special relationship with Prime Focus and have relied on the expertise of their artists and technicians for many of my past projects," said director Harry Baweja. "For Chaar Sahizaade 2, I'm truly grateful for their passion towards the material we had and their diligent efforts in bringing it to reality. The animation team has done complete justice to my vision and has elevated the film's realism to new heights while preserving its religious sensitivity. I look forward to extending our partnership with the next installment of Chaar Saahibzaade." (ANI)