Day two of ABAI Fest ‘08 commenced with a power packed panel discussion on ‘Maturity of Indian Talent and Stability‘. The eight panelists included Picasso‘s ABRP Reddy, Frameboxx‘s Rajesh Turakhia, Khan from ANTS, Mahesh from Manipal University, Anand Gurnani from AnimationXpress.com and Natrajan from Image.
Moderated by cgTantra‘s RK Chand, stalwarts from the education and production fields in animation discussed the progression of animation education and its future vistas. The main points made during the discussion were:
Students today are much more mature and aware of what they want to do in animation. “I find students asking a lot of pertinent questions on specific topics and they are more focused on what they want to do. This industry mainly consists of people under 30 years of age earning more than Rs 30, 000 as salary,” said Rajesh Turakhia. In addition to this, parents‘ support to the students to take up animation as a serious career option is increasing.
“There were days when people used to relate animation with cartoons and now we have specialization in different fields of animation,” said Khan. People are in general getting much more exposure to the animation industry today with many films and gaming coming up in the market, which has prompted several to consider animation as a career option rather than just a vocational subject. “In fact the response and turnout we are getting in events like these proves an increase in awareness and inclination of students in towards animation,” said RK Chand.
Institutes are now taking up formal education in animation and bringing in specialized courses, according to the demand from the studios and the industry. Instead of just teaching the software, they are also concentrating on the aesthetics of animation. “Institutes have begun using words such as mentoring, training and guiding rather than just lecturing the students. They pay personal attention to every student and are genuinely interested in seeing the student get a good stable career,” said Mahesh.
The panel also pointed out that there are many job opportunities out there for everyone, but it is up to the student to keep updated with new trends in the industry as well as make efforts for constant betterment. Students should know how to market themselves well and have good communication skills in order to bring their work to the notice of studios.
The specialization conundrum
There is also an over emphasis on specialization. One thing students must keep in mind is the importance of knowing all the aspects of animation while choosing to specialize in only one. That is the only way one can grow in an organization. Institutes also need to train students to have a strong foundation in animation, as the trends of the industry today will change tomorrow. If artists have their basics right, they will be able to adapt with the industry. On the other hand, “Specialization is required by the industry as there are many projects that are based on one particular aspect of animation. Studios now have departments for every aspect of animation, require special talent to work in these departments,” said Natrajan.
There was also a detailed discussion on job security versus artistic freedom and on work ethics. Many artists these days jump jobs from studio to studio for monetary gains. Although many studios hire them as an urgent need on a project basis and artists want better pay, in the long run this practice is a harmful because it prevents the artist from growing.
The artist, in this case, does not complete projects with a single studio and shirks responsibility. Besides, due to lack of quality manpower at present, studios cannot afford to lose good artists. “I have seen the studio rejecting many good artists because they were not sure about their attitude and about how they could work as a team,” said ABRP Reddy.
“Institutes can have modules in their course which would include studio personnel who have remained committed to their organization for years, to come and talk about their learning and work experience. They can be role models for aspiring animators,” said Anand Gurnani.
The panel also touched upon the need for education for professionals. There are many 2D artists who are frustrated with the change from 2D to 3D and cannot adapt their skills to this change. As a result institutes have begun courses for upgrading the skills of professionals. It is difficult for a person to keep up with rapidly changing trends on their own, which is where these courses come in. Studios need to take the initiative and help their artists participate in such courses.
The Q&A session served to answer many of the students‘ doubts on whether a degree is necessary, on the importance of soft skills and team spirit, and on how a student can aspire to make global standard content by watching more animated films, understanding the medium and thinking animation. Chand concluded the intense discussion with the words, “A teacher can light a lamp but it is up to the student to keep it burning.”