Animation-Gaming transition possible with focus, in house expertise

NASSCOM Animation & Gaming India 2007: Session Wise Coverage

The Panel on Transition from Animation to Gaming Crest CEO AK Madhavan, Session Chair Autodesk Industry Manager for M&E practice Peter Moxom. Exigent 3D VP - Production Jesse Raczpak. Lakshya Digital President Manvendra Shukul and Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal
For Indian Animation studios working on the outsourcing business model, the fact that they have gained an expertise in creating hi end CG makes it a logical extension for them to extend their CG production services to Gaming companies. Cut Scenes, In Games Cinematics, Art Assets. It is clear however that when we talk about Animation studios looking at gaming, it is at the Graphics and Art part of the whole and not the game engine, game design kind of work. There is definitely an opportunity and Indian animation studios are working on these things even as we read. Discussing ‘Transition from Animation to Gaming‘ were panelists including Crest CEO AK Madhavan, Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal, Lakshya Digital President Manvendra Shukul and Exigent 3D VP – Production Jesse Raczpak. The session was moderated by Autodesk Industry Manager for M&E practice Peter Moxom. And there were quite a few interesting viewpoints offered. Indiagames Vishal Gondal had a strong opinion that “Though the tools used for both Animation and Gaming were same, the out-put, the skill sets and the mind sets required to approach both were quite different” “It is possible for Animation studios to have game divisions, but these have to be dealt with separate focus and there has to be a scale of operations involved” he added. Responding to that comment, Crest Animation CEO commented, “I agree with Vishal that these are two separate things as far as approach and mindset are concerned. But I would like to share that we at Crest have already done quite a lot of Cut Scenes for clients in the UK and US including publishers like Blitz in the UK and the client was very happy” Talking in technical terms, Exigent3D‘s Jesse shared, “It‘s not easy or hard, but you have to be smart about transitioning into games. Though it‘s the same 3D Graphics the output required for games is much more technically complex than what is required for animation” Jesse shared that the pipelines for Animation and Gaming reflected the nature of the content. Animation is pre rendered, linear content and the pipeline for Animation is usually more focused and leading up to the rendering part. While on the other hand, Gaming is real time render and non linear content, the pipeline for producing the same is therefore more complex. “An animation artist need not be that technically proficient as is required of a gaming artist to be tech savvy. Gaming artists need to constantly update themselves as technology advances every day and influences the way games production is approached” said Jesse.
Exigent 3D VP - Production Jesse Raczpak and Lakshya Digital President Manvendra Shukul
Lakshya Digital‘s Manvendra Shukul has had quite a hybrid and rich career experience when it comes to gaming and animation in India. His hardcore programming background led him into the gaming space and he created one of the first gaming engines in the country nearly 9 years ago. Next in his role as head of esco-soft entertainment division, he founded Escotoonz which specialized in 2D animation. “From the past couple of years we have founded Lakshya Digital which specializes in 3D Game art assets and cinematics work for game developers and publishers from around the world” shared Manvendra. So what was his take on the transition thing? asked Session Chair Peter Moxom. “Both animation and gaming are highly interesting fields with a lot of overlap” shared Manvendra. ” While in animation, the artist focuses on expressing the story and staging the shot as it is pre rendered and more of a story telling, his focus is different than from a gaming artist who though might be using the same software and the same method to create 3D, will be much more technically inclined and have to deal with things like multiple formats and outputs etcetra” shared Manvendra in agreement with Jesse. “I agree with Vishal on the fact that ideally there should be separate teams and separate focus within a studio for animation and gaming, but one has to also keep in mind that the pool of 3D artists available in the country are mostly from the animation background and one cannot wait and develop game artists and let business opportunities pass by” he added. “One would definitely in the future like to have artists trained separately” he further added. There were other technical issues discussed. Peter Moxom spoke about things like the polygon count required in games as compared to that in CG features or long form was pretty different and would require a lot of adjustment of approach by artists. “The panel agreed that these points did exist, but these were learning curves to be traveled, not barriers to entry” “I must also point out” shared Madhavan, “That with Next Gen games, the poly counts are as high as Longform if not touching feature levels. Everything, the texturing, the lighting they are all getting richer and richer” “Besides animation artists as a cult are avid gamers themselves. Being into CG and gaming buffs it should not be such a steep learning curve to understand the differences of approach” he added. “And in terms of the business” shared Manvendra, there is a clear opportunity and demand. Today games cost on an average around 7-8 Mn US$ to produce. Now the costs of game making have risen much more faster and higher than that of the market consumption or the prices of games” “You are going to see an increasing number of International companies outsource the work” he added. Concluding the discussion, Autodesk‘s Peter Moxom summarized, “Gaming is definitely an option for Indian animation studios, but the game‘s not as easy as one thinks it is. One has to do research, weigh out factors and then enter this field with experience and experts from Gaming in the core production team”