This year, the Academy Awards may have attracted attention for all the wrong reasons (Will Smith’s reaction to Chris Rock’s joke) but there was more to the evening. India-born VFX genius Namit Malhotra’s (inset) company DNEG clinched its seventh visual effects award for Denis Villeneuve’s directorial Dune.
Besides Dune, DNEG was also nominated for visual effects in the James Bond movie—No Time To Die—at the 94th Academy Awards. We caught up with Namit to talk more on what goes behind creating visual effects.
Congratulations! Did you expect this while working on the film?
When we make a film, we want to make that the best thing. We take pride in taking James Bond to the Oscars for the first time since its inception. We take a lot of credit for it since we are at the forefront of it. For Dune, we had a director like Denis Villeneuve who is a master. There was always a hope that we are going to turn something in our favour with his vision and our ability to create that, leading to a great outcome. The visual effects of Dune have set a benchmark for what high-quality storytelling is all about. I never thought that’s where we would land.
What goes on in the minds of the team when they are creating these visuals?
We are a very interesting fusion of creative artistry and technical skills needed to execute the best work. We are applying a lot of physics and science to figure out how to make something look so imaginative and fresh, yet so real.
Does this make realistic cinema take a back seat?
This is more of a generational thing. There has always been someone else doing the challenging things. For instance, actors were never jumping into the fire or from a building. It was a camera trick or someone else doing it for the actors and now it’s called VFX. The idea of using tricks to make the audience believe that a particular thing happened is ultimately about entertaining people.