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October 21, 2015

Behind The Seen: ‘Lip to Lip’ by Invisible Rabbit

by Anusha Narayanan

Invisible Rabbit, a Mumbai-based boutique animation studio, who have previously worked on stop motion songs for films such as Luv Ka The End and Mujhse Fraandship Karonge, create another animated song for the film Katti Batti, called Lip to Lip. We speak to Nupur Bhargava, one of the directors at Invisible Rabbit, about the making of the song.

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The Test Shoot snapshots – by Invisible Rabbit

Bollywood always connects people of different tastes, from different corners of the country, varied ages, regions and cultures. While exploring stop motion in Bollywood, one can notice that graphics in Hindi cinema have come a long way.

Invisible Rabbit, an animation studio based in Mumbai, recently worked on the song Lip to Lip for the comedy film Katti Batti, directed by Nikhil Advani, starring Imran Khan and Kangna Ranaut. The film is light-hearted and shows the relationship between Madhav (Imran Khan), an architect, who falls in love with a headstrong Payal (Kangna) and her bulldozing attitude towards life.

Time-lapses and behind-the-scenes: making of Lip to Lip courtesy Invisible Rabbit

Having worked on other stop motion songs for feature films before, it was a comfortable area for Invisible Rabbit. But the song was done in a specific technique, which “required a lot of gravity defying tricks and visual trickery. This helped us keep the visual as organic as possible with minimum rigging,” explained Nupur, animator and partner at Invisible Rabbit. Since Nikhil [Advani] had already worked on Delhi Safari, “it was easier for us to gain his trust and support, but it was not the same for the rest of the crew and stop motion is complex medium to understand at such a short notice.”

Nupur walked us through the process, beginning with the concept note and a visual script – which means, one has to understand the story of course. Once the designers got the brief for the characters, Invisible Rabbit wanted to make it into a dream sequence that’s fun yet believable within the film’s context.

“In the film Payal (Kangna’s character) is way out of Maddy’s league; she is more dominating and flamboyant. The song has been picturized to bring this character out: she initiates the kiss in the khet sequence and by the end of the song, Maddy overcomes his shyness, to win her over.”

Dope Sheets: The song works in beats and animation works in frames. The dope sheet helps keep track of the animation in a detailed manner. Each beat is accounted for in frames, using storyboard and animatics. So the song is visually finalised even before shooting.

Art Bible: To track the intense art in the sequence, an art bible is created. This details out props for animation and materials that are to be animated organically on the shoot. For some props, a technique called replacement was used, in which physical props were created for each consecutive pose/shape of the animation. When seen in one motion, it looks fluid and animated. “Like we animated cotton to create smoke or bottle caps to create a silhouette of Maddy.”

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Final Edit: Nupur usually prefer editing films herself. “I am familiar with each frame and the dope sheet, and I prefer to do compositing and editing simultaneously. The edit is tweaked for final music.” Edits are then handed for cleanups, color correction and additional VFX.

The challenges of making things look fun, are not as funny usually, and she shared with us some. “Working on a project with more than 60 people crew that is totally new to animation was quite a challenge. We had only 3 days to shoot, which included time for lighting, multiple costume/hair change and animation on a 30 x 40ft set…The logistics of mounting a camera at 30ft height with only one wire coming down which then connected 4 outputs was a mammoth task.”

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Nupur Bhargava, director at Invisible Rabbit

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Bollywood is one of the fastest ways to reach one and all, aside from television. We asked Nupur, if at any point, they felt that the video might not have any impact or might depend heavily on the success  of the movie? “Not really.” she said. “Audience is a lot more accepting and aware nowadays. We really loved the song and had full faith in it. There will always be people who may not take animation seriously or they may get uncomfortable when introduced to something new. The industry is changing, stories are changing and the way we tell a story will also change. Animation and Film has come together in Hollywood and not just for VFX. In India too, the future is going to see a happy marriage of both mediums.”

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Although the film wasn’t a prolific commercial success, Invisible Rabbit is positive that more clients and filmmakers will experiment and take to animations for their brands and films. In another pieces of their work, Invisible Rabbit seem to be capturing the right tone and bringing animation to the masses.

For more of their work, visit their Vimeo

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