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Reimagining reality through Crackle

Reimagining reality through Crackle

A short film ‘Crackle’ is creating buzz in town much before its release. The short film shot in Virtual Reality boasts of being the first-of-its-kind in India. Speaking to one of its producers Eddie Avil, NT BUZZ finds out more about this next-big-thing in technology.

Janice Rodrigues | NT BUZZ

If you were startled by the mirror scene in the Conjuring 2 with the glimpse of the nun in the mirror, or if the static TV scene in the ‘Ring’ scared you in a least bit, then the short film ‘Crackle’ promises to be a notch higher. The content of the film is not out yet, but the experience is sure going to give you goose bumps as this is no ordinary horror-flick. This is virtual reality (VR).

With advancement in technology the realm of entertainment is ever changing, computer generated designing and VFX are redefining the way people experience their leisure pursuits. And horror is a genre that is currently the most sought-after after the whole superhero gang goes out saving the universe. Tapping into this genre are two keen producers, Eddie Avil and Ashley Rodrigues, who are set to give India its first VR horror film ‘Crackle’.

Not revealing much about the content of the film, Eddie who was down in Goa for a short break at his in-laws house, said: “We wrote a simple story with VR in mind, about a group of young people. I wouldn’t want to reveal what it is about but you can be sure that you will be scared.”

The technology of VR puts the viewer in the middle of the action, making you one of the characters of the film. “When you’re watching a movie on screen, you are just watching the action that’s happening in front of the camera. In virtual reality we go beyond it, you get the background, what’s there on the sides, behind you, everything in 3D, thus it has the capacity to blur the lines between real and virtual,” says Eddie.

VR promises to bring people face-to-face with their deepest thrills and darkest fears just by sitting in one place. The technology is said to put a person in any situation, “if you want to skydive or go to the moon or walk on Mars or go underwater deep sea diving, all this is possible through VR. It involves haptics and activates all the five senses. In the coming years, it is going to blur the line between reality and the virtual. People have not gotten the feel of what it can do yet, that’s why they are all skeptical,” he says.

Captivated by the technology when he and Ashley shot in VR for a travel app close to a year ago, Eddie wants to push his boundaries and create something that would showcase their skills doing something with cinematic content. “A walk through is rather simple, we as a company wanted to grow and show our skills. And horror is something that is going to be freaky. You will be greeted by your worst fears here,” says Eddie.

As engrossing as the film may sound, the making is of a higher degree of complex. Since VR gives you a 360 degrees live action, it needs to be shot in that manner to. “We have spent around seven months to develop the camera which in actuality has 18 cameras that all shoot in 3D. Additionally we have cameras everywhere. The shooting is a very difficult process right now but as we go on, it will get easier. These 18 cameras have to take bits and pieces of the shoot and literally stitch it into a full panoramic video. It’s very time consuming; if we have a 30-second video, it can take up to 8 hours to stitch it. We also need special computers to render those files. It’s an expensive affair too, as we have to send those file to be rendered and for a one minute clip they can charge about six lakh rupees,” says Eddie.

In VR, the camera is from the first person perspective and since the feed is in from all around, the challenges go beyond just budgets and camera equipment. “There are a lot of things you can do if you’re shooting a normal film, you can light up a place using artificial lights, it’s not going to be seen or you can direct your actors while shooting to avoid the cuts. But when it comes to 360 all this goes for a toss, because the actors can be anywhere. And because at most times, the end user is not looking where the director wants him to look, it has to be more engrossing,” says Eddie. The crew also had a hard time as it was not only the actors who had to be well versed with the scripts and dialogue, but the crew too. “The moment the camera started rolling the entire crew had to run and hide behind boulders and trees and had to direct the camera on a dolly that is remote controlled. The principle here is – if you can see the camera, the camera can see you!” he adds.

The technology in its nascent stage has supporters vying for the possibilities that it can open up. “Each and every technology company in the world right now has invested in Virtual media. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, even Facebook that was software driven of the longest time has also invested in this technology,” says Eddie.

With a fresh cast but a “nice bunch of actors who fit the characters to the T”, the director of photography Shanti Bhushan Roy who worked on the Anil Kapoor starrer ‘24’, the makeup artist team Fat Mu who worked on Kapoor and Sons and the action stunt director Prashant Naik, the 12 minute film seems promising.

Running an audio studio ‘Sounds Good Studio’ in Mumbai and with a backing of a two decade career in audio and music production for advertisements and Bollywood, Eddie is hoping that this shift is a welcome one. “It’s the first-of-its-kind and I hope the audience loves the experience and gets scared but also wants to experience it again,” says Eddie.

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