India’s First 3D Motion-Capture Film Looks Like An Epic Trainwreck

India’s first 3-D mo-cap CGI feature, Kochadaiiyaan, will open on May 9th. By Western feature animation quality standards, it looks comically bad, but perhaps it’s impressive if you’ve never seen animation before. Predictably, the film’s animation quality has already been criticized; Bollywood actor Imran Khan, who doesn’t have a part in the film, has defended its quality with this argument: “If you look back, 10 years ago even in Hollywood [animation] wasn’t a big thing. In the last 10 to 12 years, it has started growing in Hollywood and became part of the mainstream, so we have to give it a little bit of time.”

On a positive note, the film was directed by a woman, Soundarya Ashwin, the 29-year-old daughter of Indian film star Rajinikanth, who performs three different roles in the film, including that of the lead character. Ashwin explained to Times of India that her film used the same technique as Avatar, except for one significant difference:

Avatar took seven years and so much budget and a James Cameron. There was always the insecurity of the unknown, but we have taken a road never taken in India and broken rules and have completed the film in just a year and a half.”

The film had a $20.5 million budget, which is generous by Indian standards. Its Wikipedia page offers lots of production details, and this ten-minute video documents the motion capture process.

Another nice thing that can be said about the film: it looks better than the trailer for Sultan the Warrior, an uncompleted mo-cap film that Ashwin attempted to make with her father about seven years ago. The trailer for that is below:


  • thniels

    If they promoted it saying “Now in a new Beowulf” rather than “Avatar”, perhaps it would go down easier. The animation is considerably smoother and much more realistic than Beowulf was, even if the detail culling could do with a bit of work. Avatar was a benchmark not easily surpassed.

    • Alvaro

      you should give Beowulf another watch, it is eons ahead of this.

  • Mitchekie

    Looks like a video game. Assassin’s Creed: Road to India.

    • kudrow

      they better watch and learn at least from assassins creed trailers to understand basic animation, other than making fools of themselves with budget constraints

  • Matthew Broussard

    “On a positive note, the film was directed by a woman”

    India isn’t known for being particularly sexist, is it? So what makes that a positive note as opposed to it being directed by a man?

    • AmidAmidi

      Actually, India has some of the worst gender equality in the world. Combined with this art form, in which over 95% of animated features today are directed by men, it’s quite an accomplishment that a woman directed a high-profile animated feature in India.

      • Jonas

        Haha.. are you joking.. I have worked there and in every organization, educational , technical , IT, public offices, politics there are good amount of female(30-40 %) , if you see film making there are many of that gender, women everywhere choose safe career options, and movie making is not of that kind, so everything is about education and literacy.

        • Duane

          What a wonderful world, no “outcasts”, women don’t get gang raped, slum is just a name for theme parks, unions are flourishing, wow… sounds awesome Jonas. Thank you.

        • timmyelliot

          I can’t agree with you, Jonas. But, I really wanted to find something that supported your comment, especially after Duane’s straw man.

          It does look significant that a woman is directing the film.

          • Jonas

            See those things are there, but with education it’s improving, … with population over a billion, every statistics will not be that good to show, it’s the main reason of class divide and all other crimes that you mentioned, but that’s the problem everywhere.. isn’t it?

      • IamSam

        It is great that they got a woman director but at the same time…women directors are far in between even in the US. I cannot think of one woman director with a tentpole film in the US.

      • Atish Tripathi

        Hey Amid! That woman who is directing the film is the daughter of one of the biggest star in South Indian movies ‘Rajnikant’. And Rajnikant is also the star of this crappy mo cap movie. India is not just sexist but also a nepotistic society where you get to direct a crappy movie if you are a Movie Star’s daughter.

    • malcmilli

      Many aspects of Indian culture can be quite sexist.

  • Guest

    Animation will always beat Motion Capture. Even if you use MC you need animators to edit and refine it. There are a lot of moments in this that lacks in the principles of animation and just in general a clean up.
    The trailer does have a strong feeling of a video game (design-wise) rather than film.
    But given the fact it is new ground for India, I say good luck. Although they should have made a short film before they went into a feature length. At least then they could experiment and learn from it.

  • Reu Att

    Looks more like a game..

  • Toonio

    This needs an ESRB rating batter than an MPAA’s

  • Tarun Jain

    I have been following Brew for years & I have never read anything positive about the Indian animation industry. Despite the fact that a lot of work from the west is done there. I sense hostility towards India.The world is not as black and white as Brew perceives. I m curious if the staff at Brew has any animation industry experience. Reading a book about swimming doesn’t make you a swimmer.
    Anyway, the film is bound to be a hit.The actor Rajnikant is worshipped in south india for his acting and his humility. I agree that this doesn’t look like a master piece.But for the audience for whom this film is intended don’t really care about the ‘western feature animation quality standards’ . The western sensibility is not necessarily global sensibility.

    • You’re missing the Point.

      Its not hostility towards the Indian Animation Industry. Its hostility towards Crappy animation. When India stops producing “animated films” that look like this, the hostility will stop. Its not a “Western Sensibility”….its basic Sensibility. I’m sure people in the East, China, Japan think this film is crap as well.
      Easy.

      • Tarun Jain

        I didnt say that this isnt crap. My point was that there has to be something positive happening in the Indian animation industry. Point out the positives if you are pointing out the negatives.

        • You’re missing the Point

          You’re right. I said it was Crap. If there’s something positive happening in the Indian animation industry, nobody has seen it yet.

          • Aneesh Menon

            Well as a matter of fact, you have seen work coming out of the Indian animation industry. In movies like Spider-Man, Avatar, Avengers etc.. Yea that’s right, most of the Hollywood producers send their work to India to get it animated cuz it’s cheaper than doing it there BUT it’s also too expensive for a Bollywood movie with a limited budget to get the same level of quality in their films. I’m from India and I know exactly how it works. There are some very big animation companies in India whose only revenue comes from outsourcing to Hollywood. The Indian producers simply can’t afford it. Why? Hollywood movies are distributed throughout the world and make profits of over a 100m USD. Indian movies aren’t as widely distributed and hence they don’t make so much money hence a limited budget. All this being said, I think Kochadaiyan is a big step forward for Indian cinema. Sure the animation is crap compared to say a Beowulf or Avatar but just the fact that it’s being attempted is a big deal in itself. If you were Indian I’m sure you’d understand

    • AmidAmidi

      There is no hostility towards India. We’re discussing the quality of the country’s animation output, which remains abysmally low despite more than a decade-and-a-half of heavy investment. Historically, other countries in Asia that have started in the same position have progressed far faster; it’s a much larger discussion to talk about why India hasn’t been able to develop its homegrown industry faster. (It should also be pointed out that much better work is being produced at the satellite studios that have been set up in India by major Western producers. But those artists have not filtered throughout the industry yet.)

      • Barry Munkton

        You’re right to suggest there is an underlying bias and cruelty in posts about India plus a very condescending attitude. Consider this sentence: “By Western feature animation quality standards, it looks comically bad, but perhaps it’s impressive if you’ve never seen animation before. ”

        So who hasn’t “seen animation before”? Presumably Indian people because, y’know, they’re foreign and third world. Classy.

      • arvind

        Nikhil M. Anand…rigging technical directorDhirendra Chhatpar…visual effects dailies editorKotamraju Karthik…visual effects coordinatorA.P. Madan Mohan…mocap directionPadmesh…pre-viz camera supervisorLino Stephen Peter…facial capture pipeline supervisor / head of technical directorSajiv…3d headBrian Taber…stereographerChris Treichel

        how many of them are from west…? …stereo consulting coordinator: Stereo

      • Tarun Jain

        You don’t have to be a genius to see that this film is crap. I completely agree with that. I find it hard to believe that in a country of over 1.25 billion people nothing positive happens. A discussion doesn’t start with a judgement. Leave that to the reader. Isn’t journalism about making people aware and let them form an informed opinion? May be I have missed the discussion where reasons for this state of Indian animation was pondered upon.
        I just hope that some constructive criticism replaces cynicism.India and China are the oldest living civilisations in the world. I m sure they have done something right to make it this far, besides populating the world.

    • iamsam

      Unfortunately at this point in history India style animation still sucks which is amazing since they have been at the CG longer than alot of other Asian countries. India had invested a lot in infrastructure. But so far every country has it beat.

      Foosball aka Metegol cost 20 Million. Looks better
      Captain Harlock cost 30 million (japan has about 300x more cost of living). Looks way better.
      Khumba cost 20 million. Way better.
      Dragon Hunter’s 20 million. Looks better.

      Money is not the problem. Many others have succeeded with just as much or less.
      So what is the problem?
      I will give them the enthusiasm. They are very enthusiastic about their creations.
      I do like many Bollywood films but there is something missing in alot of their films. I cannot say I’ve seen a truly beautiful film from India in comparison to Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia.
      Something is missing. I cannot put my finger on it. But quality is usually a problem. I will say they have some of the most beautiful actresses in all the world. (While I’m writing this I am listening to my song of the month “Alisha” from Bollywood film “Pyaar Impossible”

  • Journey to the Uncanny Valley

    What a monumental waste of time and money. This looks like a bad video game from 1990. I dont understand motion capture used in movies like this….If the goal is just to make photo realistic humans…..Why not shoot live-action footage? There’s no reason for this movie to be animated. I’m sure it cost more money, and the resulting quality is piss poor. What a waste.

  • Anand

    Also not a bollywood film as wrongly quoted. It’s from a southern indian film industry that traditionally pulls in a lot less in terms of budget and profit.

  • Chicken McPhee

    I only have one thing to…hmprf…
    Hahahahahahahahaha!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    • DangerMaus

      Well…that was constructive.

      • Chicken McPhee

        Okay, to be constructive:
        It looks like it’s possibly made in maya, but the characters are under-rigged and it looks like animation correction/addition of the mo-cap is practically non-existent. The characters don’t really change expressions. Everything about it, especially including the editing and shot composition is afluent to video games. If you were to tell me this was a video game, I’d say – looks pretty good.

  • Tril

    Reminds me of that religious propaganda movie “The Greatest Miracle”

  • malcmilli

    also must keep in mind reported crimes vs actual crimes

  • Size8

    i think outside of the rape what makes it worst is that in london justice is possible. i’m just from reading an article where the families of the rape victims were married of their daughters to their attackers. the people who attacked them , being army officers agreed to marry them so that their cases would be dropped. that is india

  • DangerMaus

    I always laugh when people bring up “Johnny Test” as an example of lousy animation. All it tells me is that they never watched any of Filmation’s abominations.

    • Johnny

      Well Filmation isn’t around anymore so why continue to kick a dead horse when something like Johnny Test is still being churned out in this day and age?

      • IBlock

        I was giving an example of terrible FLASH animation. Not terrible animation as a whole. I’ve seen worse animation.

  • Nope.

    Not when they look like this. This film is a flaming hot mess.

  • Mister Twister

    I hate motion captured movies.

    Just wanted to say that.

  • action man fan

    they put a movie out….an animation. something I’m still fighting to do in my life, and I’m 40 years old. So regardless of Hollywood quality vs theirs, at least they put out ‘something’. I can’t make that same claim, so bravo to them!

  • http://www.owlboy.com/ Bryan Bortz

    Easing. Someone teach them about easing.

  • Shmorky

    There are some impressive things going on here, and the 20m budget, even in taking into account the budget of other features made in India, shows just what someone with a little passion for storytelling can do when they are given the resources. Hopefully this will be one stepping stone to greater projects.

    • macc dian

      i think they should know what they are doing considering its their major attempt

  • Richard Strong

    “London has 4 times the rape count compared to Delhi”

    Officials in Delhi should just stop recording criminal activities altogether. That way you can claim that it is a crime free utopia.

  • Richard Strong

    You know full well they’re referring to the Hollywood movie.

  • George Comerci

    For a country without any other animated movies, this will hopefully open up some doors for Bollywood. But by Western standards, this does look pretty stupid. And I agree-it definitely looks like video game quality to me and not even close to silver screen worthy.

    • Universally Poop

      By *ANY* standards this movie is crap. Not just Western standards. Basically anybody with eyes.

  • Dingy

    I know for a fact they have been working on this since 2006. Many failures happened along the way. They were/are extremely clueless about the whole animation process.

  • IamSam

    Look what this guy did with no budget and Daz figures

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvHp90z9bq4

  • Sameer

    start is appreciate , but dn’t fucking mess with Avatar
    Avatar Technology and Artist is way beyond the imagination !
    Good luck Indian Cinematics…

  • Ben

    Yeah blah blah blah the animation isn’t up to snuff with hollywood movies and all that shit.
    But can we focus here on what’s important.

    That dude is riding a fucking dolphin to attack a navy.

    He’s riding a mother fucking dolphin you guys.

    As if this isn’t the greatest fucking thing you’ve ever seen.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Pfft!

      Real men ride sharks into battle.

    • http://www.geekblogtips.com/ Nishant Srivastava

      He is Rajnikanth !

      That is enough !

    • Vasee

      He didnt ride a dolphin, the dolphin gave him a ride.
      Dolphins r human friendly n how many times hv we heard abt dolphins savings humans? Duh..

  • Martin Wagner

    Yeah, I’ll join the chorus of people saying this is pretty much last-gen video-game cut-scene quality. You can see more impressive work in Battlefield 4.

  • Naveen Prabhakaran

    It’s India…. What did you expect? That and the fact that India hasn’t produced a single videogame/3D animated movie or 2D cartoon worth mentioning is a significant reminder of how bad we are at doing/copying trends.

  • Durga Prasad Ketha

    Looks like a video game in 2003/04, now a days video games are so good in terms of animation

  • Matthew Broussard

    Being ignorant about the state of affairs of a country on the other side of the globe =/= living under a rock.

    • Duane

      Well, India represents 17.5% of the world population… and unfortunately we recently got to hear about the sad state of affairs.
      Yet, that means that the issues (buried under the Bollywood juggernaut through the ruling class) are now being highlighted which helps the local activists get some attention, and I’d say it’s a great step forward.

  • sana

    She has the courage to try something new (which no male film director in indian film industry had)… First step towards a bigger future…

  • DC

    Wow, this looks bloody awful. I hate to say anything negative about a project, but these guys really should have considered doing a short film and test animations until you achieved something worth watching. Then using that skillset on a feature animation.

    Even if this was a pre-rendered PS2 game cinematic, I wouldn’t watch it further. Why would anyone want to pay to spend 90 minutes watching this? Man, what a waste… IMHO.

  • Kyle Baker

    Most of Hollywood’s animation and effects work is outsourced to India. India has some great animation studios.

  • Babydiamond

    More like God of War: Siege of Bollywood

  • Frank Panucci

    There was a mocap Indian film made many years ago – a SINBAD movie. It was shown on the SciFi channel and elsewhere for a year or so. The disaffected voice cast included Leonard Nimoy. The “finished” film was so poorly done, there were scenes of characters “picking up” objects that hovered in space some distance away from them on the X axis.

    The details:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinbad:_Beyond_the_Veil_of_Mists

    “Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000) is the first feature length CGI film created exclusively using motion capture. While many animators worked on the project, the human characters were entirely animated using motion capture. It was filmed at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles, over a three-month period in 1997.

    Along with Pandavas: The Five Warriors (2000), this was one of the first computer-graphics-based features made in India. Pentamedia company was behind both of these productions.”

  • Atish Tripathi

    I am an Indian Animation Professional and I apologize to all Hollywood Animation Professionals for Bollywood Actor Imran Khan’s remark, “If you look back, 10 years ago even in Hollywood [animation] wasn’t a big thing. In the last 10 to 12 years, it has started growing in Hollywood and became part of the mainstream, so we have to give it a little bit of time.”

  • ravi swami

    I can see Amid Amidis’ dilemma here – when you watch a Rajnikanth film you have to understand that you are entering a universe where the normal laws of physics and logic no longer apply – in fact it’s a universe which is a reflection of the inscrutable Indian mind, which is incomprehensible to materialistic Westerners and defies any kind of logical analysis and criticism – the best you can do is to forget everything you know and bow in obeisance at the petal strewn feet of Rajni…lol…

  • Stuart Ruffin

    I’ve seen worse animations to be honest… It’s a nice attempt though

  • nevilleross

    Now, if they can actually try make animated films for the kids, and make them as good as the USA’s, then we can say that Bollywood’s arrived. I’m sorry, but this needed more work, and more moolah to make it up to the standards that we’ve come to expect from CGI animation here in the West; as it is, this is just a Play Station 2 game done at the end of that system’s life, brought to the big screen.

    I will say this though; at least unlike her sisters in North America and Europe, Ms. Ashwin actually did the animated movie she wanted to do rather than just complain about there being too many obstacles in her path blocking her from making a movie due to her being a woman.

  • Jack

    Countries don’t make movies. People do. People generally do the best they can given their resources, priorities and constraints.
    The outcome is what it is and hardly reflective of a nation. Or something that we can draw much in terms of actionable patterns from.
    The thing to focus on, is that a movie has been made. If it interests you then lucky you – you found something interesting, if not: move on, there’s probably something else waiting for you.

  • bhupendra

    motion capture of your film was 30 fps but you did not see that autodesk maya use 25 fps the result was so jittery ………….

  • Jesse

    Is this for Xbox or Playstation?

  • Vasee

    Its a pity this ‘epic trainwreck’ actually broke all the record..
    Perhaps u will direct the next absolute trainwreck to surpass this.