Managing Director at FutureWorks Media Gaurav Gupta has told us about the company's work culture and approach to education, discussed the peculiarities of the Indian VFX market, and shared some tips for aspiring VFX artists.
The Peripheral - Image courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
My name is Gaurav Gupta, Managing Director at FutureWorks Media. After completing my graduation from the University of Michigan, I returned to India to work in my family's motion-picture business. I formally started FutureWorks in January 2008 after noticing the opportunities for digital services that came with the big shift towards digitization in the film industry around that time.
We anticipated that in the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime, the quality of TV had to really step up. As a result, we prepared for TV shows increasingly being made in a similar way to feature films, with post-production work such as color grading, which wasn’t the case before. From early on, we knew we wanted to focus on feature films and entertainment media.
The FutureWorks Team
At FutureWorks, we are organized by three divisions Post, VFX, and Rentals – and then departments under them, such as Grading, Sound Design, Compositing, CG, and MatchMove-RotoAnim.
As a tech-forward company, we always look for ways to improve our internal workflows and communication tools. At the moment, we use Google Workspace, while different departments use other specialized tools. For example, our VFX team uses Shotgrid for shot and asset management, and our post team works with the FoxOMS scheduler to manage bookings. As for the social aspect of internal communications, we use Facebook Workplace.
Having all these departments working together under the same roof has incredible production value. The way content is produced is very dynamic, and you can instantly see the advantage when you think about something like virtual production, which requires teams from all departments to come together: post, VFX, and color. The symbiosis between offering rentals and post-production is also clear, with color management running all the way through the process, from on-set to the finished production.
Westworld - Image courtesy of HBO
The Company's VFX Division
Our international VFX division kicked off back in 2011, with us doing stereo conversion work on John Carter for Cinesite and Disney. That was our initiation into visual effects, and we learned a lot in the process. As a VFX specialist, we grow, frame by frame, on every project that we take on, always listening to customers and anticipating their needs.
When we started out, we noticed the trend toward using more VFX in productions and felt that there was a gap in the market to be filled. We knew that our passion for content creation could feed into this.
We love being in the content business. It's extremely satisfying working with content creators who have a vision and figuring out the best way to help them tell their stories.
Thoughts on the Indian VFX Market
India creates and consumes a huge amount of content. Demand for VFX in India is only increasing, as it is in other places around the world. This is thanks in part to the recent successes of Indian directors such as Ayan Mukerji and S. S. Rajamouli, who have designed their storytelling using fantastic visual effects. We see more and more projects embracing this opportunity, and Indian audiences are responding to this.
The market has a lot of potential, but it is still maturing. When we talk about designing and contracting VFX, we still face very challenging budgets. It will take time, but we are moving in the right direction, and fast.
Not coming from a VFX background, building this company was a big learning curve for me. Some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced have been figuring out how to attract, retain and nurture talent, as well as making sure we stay at the forefront of creativity and technology. Embracing technology and artistry has been our main focus. That’s why we’re constantly investing in equipment, facilities, and also training and talent.
Jaadugar - Image courtesy of Netflix
Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere
We make it a priority to make sure that everyone feels supported and confident in what they’re doing. One-on-one meetings happen regularly, ensuring that we’re always providing feedback as well as collecting it. It’s a two-way street! Open communication with our artists helps to make sure everyone is feeling comfortable and has the necessary support in place where they can make mistakes and learn from them.
Besides communication, training and access to technology are two pillars of our support network at FutureWorks. We also strive to offer the best employee benefits in comparison to others in our industry.
The nature of the industry requires iterations and deadlines, and there’s no way around it. To balance things out, we ensure enough time off is booked when artists have had to put in extra time. As part of our internal processes, we have monthly revisions and integration activities that are designed to enforce this, making sure employees take time to rest and reset.
We encourage everybody to speak up. Fostering a culture where everyone contributes is easier said than done, but for us, the emphasis goes into making sure all employees feel heard. That includes feedback on operations, ideas on how to improve workflows, and new creative approaches. We constantly strive to foster that culture and build a better environment for communication. In a nutshell, what we are trying to build is a “we” culture, as opposed to an “I” culture.
Approach to Education
In the VFX industry, the skillset is very important. We need a high number of trained professionals, and these are difficult to find in the current market. That led us to start FutureWorks Academy, our very own in-house training program, to bridge the gap between education and industry needs.
The academy is overseen and managed by Savita Shekhawat, Head of Training and Development at FutureWorks. With 25 years of industry experience, both in artist and leadership roles, Savita has a wealth of knowledge spanning 2D cell animation to 3D, and more. FutureWorks Academy provides entry-level artists with a clear path to success: the opportunity to learn from senior-level professionals and work on live projects in a structured, supportive environment.
The Academy not only provides support to junior professionals but also to more experienced team members who want to keep growing their skillset. Through quarterly one-on-one meetings, we design tailored training paths. We even offer English classes in our offices to employees who are not fluent.
Tips for Aspiring Artists
Besides having a strong portfolio, we can’t stress enough how important soft skills are when working in a collaborative environment. Communicating effectively, working as a team, and good time management are essential. But there’s no substitute for curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Someone that shows us they are willing to learn and improve will definitely stand a better chance of joining the studio. Skills can always be taught, if there’s a will to learn.