Here’s how they shrank Shah Rukh Khan in Zero

“Nobody has ever done a film like this in the world,” states actor-producer Shah Rukh Khan in the opening of the making-of video of Aanand L Rai’s Zero (2018). Khan plays the vertically challenged Bauua Singh from Meerut who goes on to romance both Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif in the film.

This latest video of nearly seven minutes from the makers peels back the layers and reveals the mystery of how Khan became Bauua. If you have seen the film, this would explain the process. If not, this making-of video will take you into the magic of the cinematic process as it breaks down how the VFX in Zero (2018) operates.

The video shares the grand scale of this ambitious film. Around 1,600 VFX artists worldwide worked on the film, including 600 from Khan’s own Red Chillies VFX. Along with Khan, VFX supervisor Harry Hingorani and VFX producer Keitan Yadav take the viewer step by step through the arduous process of creating each scene in Zero.

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Khan said there were five versions of each shot — one with him walking on a lowered track, one with Ashish, whom they used for height reference, one shot of the set without the characters, one of any additional characters without Khan, and one more of Khan enacting the shot alone, as a body pass. This last shot was used by the VFX artists to fill any gaps when they shrunk him down as Bauua.

Several scenes of the crew on set with Khan were shown to explain the process, green screen visible on every scene. Hingorani recalled the brief given to him for the film, that Bauua has to look ‘cute’. The technicians did a lot of research, including pre-visualization (where the film was recreated in 3D), and shrinking Khan in his older films. After a successful test song that they turned into Zero’s teaser, they knew they were on the right track.

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Furthermore, the makers kept the action real on set by having Khan interact with all of his co-stars. To do that, every set was like a LEGO set, creating an illusion of high (for the rest of the characters) and low (for Bauua). The complicated set was even flown to the US where it was used to film one crucial scene.

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The makers also used a technodolly, which can record hand-held moves, operated by an American technician to repeat the same shot five times. Eventually, in post-production, it was up to the animators and compositors to make sure the final shot looked seamless. It was an immense undertaking for the entire team.

Zero was released in theatres on 21 December 2018. Watch the making-of video of Zero (2018) below: 

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