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Animation -- it's an art, it's a part of entertainment and it can be your career! Toonz Animation Academy has launched a professional animation training course in Mumbai, and at a series of seminars held in the city last week, dean of the academy Dino Cordero discussed both the course being offered and a career in animation. Philippines-based Cordero has worked with several animation studios across the world; he has been a part of popular cartoon series like 'Loony Tunes', 'Tom and Jerry', 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'Fantastic Four'. He has also worked on 'X-Men' and 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.
Animation as an industry, and its scope in India
Animated cell phone displays, commercials, cartoons and movies are a big part of life in today's modern world, but India so far has played a very small part in the global animation industry. There are about 10 animation studios across the country, and only around 3000 animators work for them. "The industry is bottlenecked when it comes to procuring skilled professionals for jobs. There are many people who are familiar with the software, but they are not qualified animators," says Binu Raj, marketing head, Toonz Animation.
Entertainment, though, is not the be-all and end-all of the industry. It has applications in various fields. Defence personnel use animation to design armaments, forensic scientists use it to recreate crime sequences and it is also used in the fields of space research and medicine.
Lack of adequate training facilities
Today, several Indian computer institutes offer short-term courses in animation. As a result of the time constraint on these short stints, the training is not as in-depth as it should be. The various faculties of these institutes also fail to prepare students adequately for a career in animation -- all that is taught usually revolves around familiarising them with the software. "We receive 20 to 30 CVs every day. Plenty of interviews also take place, but at the end of the month, we have very few placements," says Raj.
Up until Toonz decided to offer a full-fledged course in animation, there were no institutes in India that did a complete job of training would-be animators.
About Toonz Animation
Toonz Animation was established in 1999, and was recently voted one of the 10 best multimedia studios in the world by The Animation Magazine. Clients of the company include big names like Marvel, Hallmark, Paramount, Disney, and Cartoon Network.
Toonz has both a 2D and a 3D department, and has worked on several popular animated productions such as 'Tenali Raman', 'Hanuman', 'Finley the Fire Engine' and 'Mighty Mouse'. Projects in the pipeline include 'Hanuman 2', 'Twin Princes' and 'Geet Mahabharat'.
The company has a sprawling studio in Thiruvanthapuram at Technopark, a centre in Mumbai and offices in many other cities. It is also setting up shop in Nagpur in the near future.
Course structure and eligibility
"This is a serious training programme, and most of our students are in the age group of 21 to 30 -- it is for those who want to pursue a career in animation," says Raj.
Toonz is offering a one-year course combining an advanced programme in classical and digital animation, and an advanced programme in 3D animation and digital arts. The fees are approximately Rs 1,60,000 for the 3D course and Rs 1,25,000 for the 2D course. Classes will be held four hours a day, five days a week, and students will also be given homework assignments.
The eligibility for the course is a 10+2, but the actual criteria for admission is creativity. A screening of candidates will be conducted, comprising four modules -- drawing, acting, clay modelling and visualisation. Those who fit the bill will then be accepted.
"It is important to have a very vivid imagination. Animation requires passion and creativity. It requires a lot of concentration, too. It takes time to learn and also to execute," says dean of the academy Dino Cordero.
It is not necessary to hold any kind of degree to pursue a career in animation, but a knowledge of programming (C++, Java) and a general interest in creativity (painting, pottery, or even singing) can prove to be an asset in this field. Even a science background can prove useful, because processes like rigging (skeletal animation) require a knowledge of the anatomy. Principles of physics need to be kept in mind when deciding the movements of animated characters and backgrounds. As part of the course, students are required to be on a constant creative edge. They are required to watch several movies in a day, and master the art of storytelling.
Toonz Academy is not affiliated to any university, and therefore the course does not bestow a degree upon you -- it is NOT a graduation course.
The softwares used for animation include Photoshop, 3D Studio Max, Flash and Maya.
The curriculum has been designed by Barry Parker and other internationally recognised animation faculty. It is very global, in keeping with international trends.
Although Toonz Academy does not promise placements, if you prove to be an outstanding student, the company itself may absorb you -- chances of securing a job at any other animation studio are also high.
Part II: Tomorrow
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