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Work for Hollywood
Sonal D'Silva |
February 24, 2006
The media is busy chronicling the so-called inroads of various Bollywood personalities into Hollywood.
But the real connection between the entertainment industry of the West and India lies -- ironically -- in a more virtual setting.
The industry we're talking about is animation and India is rapidly becoming the place that provides the best services at an affordable price.
The evidence lies not in projects promised and then forgotten but in actual contributions made to the animation and post-production on major films like:
~The Incredibles (Gujarat-born Kamal Mistry was technical director)
~ Chronicles of Narnia (worked on by Malad-based Rhythm&Hues)
~ Lord Of The Rings (employed Chennai-based special effects specialist N Madhusudhanan)
~ The Mummy, Stuart Little (effects by Maya Entertainment)
~ Gladiator, Spiderman, The Nutty Professor 2, Titanic, Independence Day, and Men in Black to name a few.
The good news, as a result of this trend, is that the demand for animators in India is high.
In keeping with the growing interest in the field, Mumbai-based Graphiti School of Animation recently conducted a workshop on Writing For Animation by Lisa Goldman, President, Women in Animation, NY chapter.
We caught up with Ram Mohan, chairman and CCO, Graphiti Multimedia and Lisa Goldman to find out about changing trends and future prospects in India for aspiring animators.
Growth of animation in India
Animation may be the buzzword of the moment in India, but go back a couple of decades and the scenario was completely different.
Mohan, one of the first people to venture into animation in India, recalls, "When I began working in 1956, animation was not well known in India. A few ad producers wanted to do it so that sustained us, but it grew very slowly. People who went to art school did not see it as a viable option, they thought it was small and esoteric."
The notion held throughout the seventies and the eighties. Then, in the early nineties, things slowly began to change. Mohan explains, "Japan came here in search of artists to work on their depiction of the Ramayana. That was a heartening experience."
That marked the beginning of collaborations with international studios and other projects soon followed, like the 1992 UNICEF Kathmandu initiative about the girl child in South Asia.
Mohan worked on the project and he tells us of the experience, "It was a series of short films about a girl called Meena who symbolised the typical girl child. There were no institutions who taught animation and the only way to learn was on the job."
The situation has changed considerably now, with a wide variety of studios offering training in animation. Mohan himself, along with UTV, set up RM USL, a training programme that educates 20 people every six months and then assists with placements.
That interest in the field is on the rise was evident by the numbers that signed up for Goldman's workshop. Commenting on the interaction in Mumbai, Goldman says, "It was a wonderful experience for me and I hope it was for the participants too."
If you are not exactly clear about what an animator does, it might be because there is no single job description. While 'animator' is a generic term used loosely by laypersons to refer to someone in the field, here is a more specific breakdown of the various task profiles in animation:
Designers: They design storyboards (make sketches for reference) and the characters to be animated
Modellers: Their job to enable the movement of the characters.
Animators: Work on making these characters perform or move.
There are also specialists in texturing and lighting, creation of environments (background surrounding the character), and compositing (putting the layers together) and rendering the final animation (completion of the final product).
"There is a definite shortage in India of people with these required skills. Studios and ad agencies are looking to hire trained people," says Mohan.
What does it take to be a good animator? A variety of skills, which you can learn and develop.
Mohan elaborates, "Essentially you must have a good aesthetic sense. The computer can help you design or create, but you should be able to tell the computer what you want."
An awareness of the workings of colour, form and texture, a trained eye for good visuals, and an understanding of the language of cinema are also essential.
Will every institute help you develop these skills? That is an important question to keep in mind when you're choosing a facility to train at.
Cautions Mohan, "What a lot of places used to offer is mostly just training for software but none of them actually taught animation as an art, as a craft or a skill. You have to learn that sense of drama, of timing and you have to know performance."
"This is a very exciting time for animation and, if that's what you want to do, then follow your dream. My advice to aspiring animators is to get out there -- contact production companies if you can, look out for studios, get the training you need and get your work out there as much as you can," says Goldman.
As is the danger with any field that is 'hot' in the moment, don't take it up just because everyone else says it's the thing to do.
Says Mohan, "A lot of people have fun watching animated movies but they should know that creating it requires a great deal of patience and a lot of hard work. You have to be really dedicated. If you love it, though, you won't feel like it's work!"
List of institutes offering training in animation
National Institute of Design
Ahmedabad -- 380 007
Phones: (079) 26623696/ 26623462
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: www.nid.edu
ANTS Studio Pvt Ltd
Second floor, RDComplex
Above Airtel, Fourth block
Bangalore -- 560 079
Phones: (080) 51287127/ 128, 51288120
Web site: www.antsindia.com
Digital Magic Visuals (I) Ltd
15, Muthuramalingam Street
Chennai -- 600 092
Phones: (044) 23767207/ 23767307
Web site: www.digitalmagicweb.com
Graphiti School Of Animation
Graphiti Multimedia Private limited
122, Udyog Mandir No 1
Bhaoji Keer Marg
Mumbai -- 400 016
Phone: (022) 24441580/ 82
Web site: www.graphitimultimedia.com
Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics
23, Shah Industrial Estate
Off Veera Desai Road
Mumbai -- 400 053
Phones: (022) 26731145/ 56924811
Web site: www.maacindia.com
Arena Animation Academy
12-A Vikas Centre
S V Road, Santa Cruz
Mumbai -- 400054
Phones: (022) 24366073
Web site: www.arena-multimedia.com
Sir JJ School of Arts
78, Dr DN Road
Mumbai -- 400 001