At the 'The Women Creators Programme’ Demo Day, the top 6 women VFX professionals showcased their visual skills

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The visual effects (VFX) industry is a booming sector that encompasses technology and art. Despite the plethora of opportunities the industry offers, it’s disappointing to see fewer women professionals than men working in it. Although it is true that women started to explore the VFX industry much later, they are slowly catching up with the workforce with training and outreach programmes out there.

The team at Epic Games' real-time 3D creation platform Unreal Engine believes that women are no less than men in the field of animation. To encourage more women to take up this profession, they launched the first-of-its-kind 'Women Creators Programme' in April 2021. The objective of the programme was to inspire and train women creators and build a community of creators.

Twenty women producers and VFX professionals were selected to participate in a four-week virtual training and mentoring programme. The programme included reputed evangelists and women mentors like Vani Balgam, Creative Producer, Dancing Atoms; Charuvi Agarwal, Founder and Director, CDL; Marta Ampudia Dalmau; Arvind Neelakantan, Tech Evangelist at Epic Games; Dean Reinhard, Technical Account Manager, Epic Games; Jack Condon, Evangelist, Epic Games; Karan Parikh, Founder, Green Rain Studios and Unreal Authorised Instructor Partner, Epic Games.

The participants received training on VFX themes such as animation and DCC workflows, world-building and terrain tools, lighting and post-processing, material editor, sequence, live link, and blueprints.

Top row: L-R - Pragti Wadhwa, Elements VFX; Rounak Magoo, Green Rain Studios; Gayatri Rao, Animagic India

Bottom row: L-R - Pratima Pal, Digitalclay Studios; Ria Banerjee, Axis Studios; Nida Arshia, MediaMonks

At the Demo Day held on May 28, 2021, Sameer Pitalwalla, Business Director, India and SEA, Epic Games said,

"This experience is our first, but what we've achieved in a month is incredible. The best part is witnessing the entire community come together like a band of women who are all helping and cheering each other. The quality and narrative that we've churned in a short period is a testament to the programme's success and we plan to replicate this movement across the globe."

Of the 20 participants, the top 6 creators got a chance to showcase their films and talk about what inspired their creation and the journey during the programme. The creators were: Pragti Wadhwa, 2D Supervisor/ VFX Artist/ Compositor, Elements Vfx; Rounak Magoo, Producer, Green Rain Studios; Nida Arshia, Unreal/3D Generalist, Media Monks; Gayatri Rao, Creative Producer, Animagic Special Effects Pvt Ltd; Ria Banerjee, Senior 3D Generalist, Axis Studios and Pratima Pal, Creative Producer/Animator, Digitalclay Studios.

A glimpse of the films made by the top 6 creators

While some took inspiration from recent social challenges and events, others were inspired by their own experiences, especially with the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The mentors and evangelists also took the opportunity to share their experiences with the creators and how gratifying the mentoring process was. Anu Menon, Indian Film Director and Screenwriter, who believes in female-intensive programmes said, "My perspective was to help the filmmakers with storytelling. Technology only works when viewers connect with the stories and the characters we create. The creators' take on fusion was interesting. The recurring theme of escape in their films resonated with the feeling of being a female content creator or in general, the current scenario where we all feel trapped and hope to see better days."

For Marta Ampudia Dalmau, an alumna of the Unreal Fellowship Programme, this is the first time she's worked with an all-women group. "Working with women has been interesting because everyone connected quickly and that made things easier. It's interesting to see how everyone took an abstract theme like fusion and created totally different concepts."

Vani Balgam, Creative Producer, Dancing Atoms added, "The emotional connect and energy of this group is what I loved the most. I would love to see all the creators go out there and support at least one person in this ecosystem."

"This is one of the best programmes I've attended in my career. If we keep supporting one another and aspire more women creators to be a part of this ecosystem, the industry will witness a brighter future with more women professionals in the VFX space," concluded Shruti Verma, Regional Marketing Director- India & ASEAN, Epic Games.

The immersive training programme for women creators, storytellers, producers, VFX and animation professionals ended on a high note, with each of them equipped by Unreal Engines to take their game to the next level.

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