Monday, February 10, 2014

Playing around with images

Anubha Sinha has been converting Hollywood and Bollywood films from 2D to 3D, thanks to a software she invented

Photo by Mithun Vinod

By Shevlin Sebastian

Two years ago, the Mumbai-based Anubha Sinha had gone to see a Bollywood director to talk about a 3D printing project. While waiting in the reception, she began talking to David Smith (name changed), the head of a major Hollywood studio. Anubha told David of how her company had been converting 2D posters into 3D. David asked whether she could do the same for films. Since she was not sure about it, Anubha just nodded. David gave her a pen drive, which had some test shots, and asked Anubha to convert it.

When Anubha returned to the office she wondered what to do. She began by converting a single image into 3D. “A movie is nothing but 24 images per second,” she says. Based on this concept, she took a man in a scene, and cut out his eyes, nose, lips, hair, and background settings like a sofa and made it into layers. From there she put it in her poster software, and managed to convert the images into 3D.

Three days later, Anubha showed the result to David, who was flabbergasted. “He told me that 50 people take 15 days to do this in Hollywood,” says Anubha. An excited David brought in high-powered lawyers, and signed a contract, by which Anubha would work for him for two years.

Among the Hollywood films which Anubha's company, 'Ultra Rays 3D', has converted include 'Piranha', 'Blackjack', 'Static', 'Vampire dog' 'Topcat', as well as Hindi films like 'Warning', 'Sholay', 'Vivah' and 'Iqbal'. She also worked on the Malayalam film, 'Dam 999'. As her business expanded, she began hiring a lot of people, which included many Malayalis. Over a period of time, she was impressed by their hard work and dedication. That was when she got the idea of starting a back office in Kochi.

Anubha came to Kochi a year ago and the experience has made her somewhat disillusioned. “There is too much of gossiping at work,” says Anubha. “The Malayalis in Kerala lack self-motivation. A few of them drink too much and have health issues, as a result. Malayalis are very much family-oriented. So, if there are deaths, marriages or birthdays, they will take leave. On an average, the staff works 4 to 5 days a week. Hartals only make it worse.”

But things have become far better in the past few months. “I have finally been able to impose a Mumbai-style work culture,” she says. “In fact, I need around 1000 people because I have got projects to keep us busy for the next three years.”

Meanwhile, Anubha is certain the future belongs to 3D. “Films were black and white four decades ago,” she says. “Then we moved to colour. From colour we will eventually go to 3D, although, at present, the costs are prohibitive.”

One of the attractions of 3D is that we view the world in the same way. Two eyes see different images and the brain makes it one 3D image. Soon, there will be glassless 3D television sets. “A special screen can be put on it which will make it 3D,” says Anubha. “There will also be glassless 3D theatres. This will be possible through a software which will calibrate the images on the screen.” The young entrepreneur’s future plans include setting up a 3D hall in a multiplex in Kochi.

Meanwhile, Anubha's most thrilling moment occurred when she invited America-based physicist, Mani Lal Bhaumik, a co-inventor of the Lasik technology, to her Mumbai office and explained the work she was doing. Impressed, Mani Lal gave her a copy of his book, 'Code Name God', and inscribed it, 'To the genius Anubha.' 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi) 

No comments:

Post a Comment