After the successful completion of the first five years of the studio, 88 Pictures is carving out a new milestone in its journey. The studio is expanding its footprint and is set to open its new branch in Bengaluru in 2022.
Delving into the studio’s expansion plans, 88 Pictures CEO and founder Milind D. Shinde said, “We as a studio have been growing cautiously over the last five years. We wanted to create a very successful and sustainable studio module and have invested a lot in defining the core philosophy of the studio. Our core is based on artistic freedom, responsibility, a strong technical backbone, and a studio that people can relate to. We are very proud of the fact that we were able to create a strong brand that is synonymous with everything that we believe in. Creativity is at the forefront of everything that we do and if we have to continue to do so, we need to be able to have passionate people like us join this bandwagon. So we decided to venture out of Mumbai to reach out to such people.”
He further mentioned, “I’ve spent a lot of time in Bengaluru and the city always stayed close to my heart. The talent exists there and we thought, ‘Why get the talent here rather let’s set up a base there itself.’ We have a very strong artistic leadership to drive the new studio. For us, it’s not about expansion but it’s about extension and connection.”
Revealing the future plans and focus of the new division, 88 Pictures COO Aby John shared, “We are starting our operations from the new year. We already have a sizable staff on a roll from Bengaluru and will be building it further over 2022. We are starting with a 100 seater studio from January and are looking to build to a total strength of 300 over the next 12 to 18 months. The goal is not to build scale but to build the talent pool that can work with our philosophy to produce one of the best visuals that will come out of India. At Bengaluru, we plan to create a very high-end feature studio with the artists being curated and trained by the best in the industry. We are developing a team under strong experienced leadership to do a different type of work which is beyond animation and VFX, we call it parallel CG that bends the rules of animation and VFX. We are building the Next Gen Prod Tech for this which will be very agile and adaptable to future tools.”
88 Pictures is also venturing into the gaming space. John added, “We are also venturing into Gaming, but we are trying to be the gaming service studio for game creators. The game division will be based out of Bengaluru which will be headed by a very seasoned game director.”
The new studio will be headed by the founder member and head of animation Manish Kumar.
Announcing the names of talents leading the new division, 88 Pictures founder and studio head Siddhie Mhambre mentioned, “We are very happy to announce that we have some of the best creative talent and eclectic mix of people that will be managing the new studio. With Manish heading the animation, Murali Babu, who is one of the best creative eyes in the industry, will be the head of CG. Satheesh TG will be the art director and Sahaya Ramesh will be the CG supervisor. Shiben Bhattachargee will be the game director. We are happy to have been blessed to have a wonderful talent who has worked with world-class studios in their past experiences and with international exposure.”
Murali having spent a lot of time at the DreamWorks India unit and having exposure to working with some of the best movies at DWA, is ready to share his experiences and mentor the crew to take them to the next level. Sharing his vision for the studio, an excited Murali said, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to create one of the best teams from India. I have always believed in giving ‘Responsible Freedom’ to the team so that they can exercise and sharpen their creativity. Working on creating better bonds and connections with the team, to be aligned on the greater objectives for the projects and studio at large is key to success. Eye for detail, aesthetic excellence, observation, and continuous learning in true sense will make magical moments for Team 88 and onscreen as well!”
Manish was the first animator at the India DreamWorks Unit and has worked with some of the best minds in the industry. He, who has been the brain behind some of the best animations that has come out from 88, is beaming with confidence and a lot of enthusiasm. Manish shared, “I was always based in Bengaluru and dreamt about this day to have a studio here. Guess I managed to convince everyone, and now I have to make sure it’s the best decision we have taken as a studio. Animation has been my forte and fortunately, we have put out some of the best work from the country in the last five years. The next few years have been very exciting for us with great shows being lined up and we are very inspired. How to create a team of passionate individuals who are inspired by a single-minded goal of putting on screen the best visuals combined with an unparalleled technical backbone is going to be my goal with my fellow leadership partners. End of the day, as an artist the only satisfaction we have is to see those pretty pictures on the screen and wait to hear people say, ‘WOW!’.”
Sathesh, fondly known as TG to his fan following, has been instrumental in developing the backend department at 88 and has mentored the team to develop the aesthetic eye with an accurate color sense. TG comes with a solid artistic background and has moved to his new role and is super excited to develop a new crew in Bengaluru. An enthusiastic TG shared, “I grew up watching a lot of films that had some of the best cinematic brilliance; I always wondered why we can’t create such beautiful frames. We got an opportunity to showcase that on a couple of shows we have done in the recent past and then I realized we are just getting started and we can definitely do what I always wanted to do. I am an artist at heart and I know how an artist feels, my goal is to nurture that artistic mind and heart in everyone and empower them to see beyond a frame. Only then it’s possible to get the best work. I think we have to build the confidence in the team that we can achieve everything that we dream of and my job is to just be within that journey as a friend, partner, and mentor. We have some of the best shows on the floor and some in the pipe that I am not allowed to talk but the world will know about it soon.”
Sahaya Ramesh Bosco, fondly known as Ramesh started his career in assets and grew up to learn lighting. In his stint at DreamWorks India, he was fortunate to work on some of the best shows. In his later experiences at Animal Logic and MPC, Ramesh developed the skills that he is eager to contribute to the growth story of 88. Defining the goal of the studio Ramesh explained, “I had a wonderful learning curve starting from modeling, surfacing to lighting working across some really cool projects in animation and VFX with some of the best studios in the world. I think it’s time for me to put back that learning to the crew here. My goal is to develop a new set of teams here that are experts in producing not animation, not VFX but something of both and beyond. We have some game cinematics work, some other exciting work that makes you think beyond the box and pushes you to the limits. I am very excited and am looking forward to working with passionate people to create a super talented crew from here. One of my main goals is to work with the wonderful production technology team at 88 headed by Saswat Sahoo to push our tech to a new level. I have to say the production tech we have here is ahead of time and we are shooting for the stars now!”
Shiben is quietly developing the gaming division at the studio and will be further expanding it from the Bengaluru studio. He said, “Animation has been the studio’s focus but we are working on different things under the radar which the world isn’t aware of. It’s almost like an incubation approach and we have the freedom to push the boundaries.”
He further added, “We are sitting on a huge cultural capital and I am thrilled to have an opportunity to explore it further in the game format. We are working on a couple of prototypes which will have a unique selling proposition. Our goal is to be able to tell global stories from local land and make them universally appealing. I wish I could divulge more, but for now, I can assure that we will have something exciting to share with the world soon. My goal is to create a really creative and techno-savvy team with a bent of mind for the Gaming Division at the studio.”
On asking if 88 Pictures have any plans of producing/co-producing any animated projects, Siddhie shared, “We always get this question asked and I am always tempted to say what we are working on but I am unable to say so since we are not allowed to talk about it. It’s humble and safe to say we are the only studio from India who is working on one of the best projects in the world that we have developed from scratch and will produce it entirely. Wish I could say more, time will tell..!”
Adding to what Siddhie hi said, Shinde continued, “We have some interesting projects lined up and we are already booked for the next two years. I always say we are a VALUE studio and not a VOLUME studio so how we stay relevant to it and do the best work is the key. With that, I am happy to announce that the Bengaluru studio will mainly focus on the feature work and we have something very huge in the works that we will be able to share at the right time. So in essence, we are not trying to build a scale here but are only looking for key talent with a passion to work on the best technical workflow. We can safely say that some of the best work from the Indian subcontinent will be done here.”