USL-WOA reaches its Lakshya

Published On: 2013-05-16

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USL-WOA reaches its Lakshya



Source: SI



The art of visual effects relies on understanding visual and sensory perceptions and using it to create a sense of realism when there isn’t any. Recent developments in visual computing technology have made an impact on filmmaking offering filmmakers new options whilst creating their visual art. Visual effects or VFX as it is commonly known allows the director of photography to significantly augment the visual impact of a film.

Sandeep Bhargava (COO - Allied Content, Sales & Syndication, UTV) says “The science of understanding how the audio and visual parts of our body and brain perceive the world around us, coupled with art of using this strategic information to create an illusion of reality for the sensory system, is really what forms the crux of Visual Effects.”


Lakshya, as a film, has integrated various extents of expertise and talent in the realm of filmmaking. It involved a sizable crew and team to create the result desired by the director and was shot in various locations ranging from Dehradun, Delhi to Ladakh. The VFX team from USL-WOA was an integral part of the films. USL-WOA is the post-production, special and visual effects division of the UTV group. It executed Lakshya, vision of the director Farhan Akhtar, who from the very first meeting with the VFX team, made it evidently clear that the effects could not be seen as isolated elements of the film.

USL-WOA strived to articulate the need for authenticity in these effects and maintained a consistent quality. The seamless integration of the VFX with the other scenes speaks for itself. Lakshya includes over 450 (38 minutes) of VFX shots.


The VFX team was present for consultation and inputs during the three months of shooting in Ladakh. The shoot involved locations ranging from 15,000 to 18,000 feet where the temperatures fell to -12 degrees centigrade. During the shoot the VFX team was in constant contact with the Director and the DOP (Director of Photogaphy), to fully understand the requirements of what was visualised and provide inputs when required.


While in Ladakh, the VFX team took many digital stills of the terrain, background etc. that was later used to generate textures and landscape. The team had to detail the camera information, such as lends angle etc. after each shot so that when the actual post-production work was done, the shots would look real. Some of these shots are:


The Cliff Shots: Ladakh has steep cliffs. Some of the vital sequences have been shot on these cliffs. Hrithik Roshan and some of the other actors in the film have been shot scaling up the mountains. The mountain ranges were re-created with a 3-D scaled down model of 60 x 100 feet. The action sequences in the film required shooting the actors in dangerous positions dangling from steep cliffs with nothing but deep gorges and ravines below. To ensure the safety of the actors, many devices were used, such as a safety hairness and handgrips that were created on the 3-D model for the actors to hold on to. The work also involved the removal of craters that were left after explosions and removing the squib wires (wires that trigger the explosion). Also there were instances of inserting peaks and raising the heights of the peaks, which were done on 3-D according to the need of the shots.


The Bofors Gun Shot: In the film, Preity Zinta, who plays a journalist, is shown on the battle-line with the bofors guns spewing fire in the background. The shot was actually taken when the army was test-firing the bofors in Mahe. In a separate shoot in Mumbai, Preity was shot against chroma and later composited into the scene and the results are not just real but completely seamless.


The Helicopter Shots: There are some important sequences in the film involving the two MI-17 helicopters. The VFX team at USL-WOA created a miniature 3-D model of the MI-17s on Maya. It was true to scale to the last nut and bolt. The first shot of the two choppers flying directly above the army convoy and the one that pans with the camera over the ridge to show two choppers are some of the shots, which have been worked on. In one of the sequences, there is a chopper shot that was created in entirely by the VFX team. The background was created with 11 layers to pan the pavement of the chopper from the peak to the grass fields. With regard to the interiors, the sequence was shot with blue chroma to replace passing landscape outside the choppers.


‘Main aisa kyon hoon...’ - The Song: In the song ‘Main aisa kyon hoon...’ there was extensive use of the process of colour correction on compositing machines. Also there were creative transitions in the song, with adjustment of light and colour in a subtle and complex manner to create a visual impact, which were all achieved through high-end compositing.