Film Maker Artists to Institutes: Imbibe Passion & Appreciation of animation in Students

The last session at the Mumbai preliminary discussions of Industry Academia Interface sponsored by NVIDIA & Aditya, was a big contrast to the earlier sessions. Different in the sense that while the buzzwords mentioned in the earlier five rapidfire sessions were Manpower, Pipeline, Assembly Line, Production Output and Industry Ready, the session by the film makers and artists had buzzwords like Art, Passion, Aesthetics and Film Making. On the hot seat for this session were: The passionate maestro Chetan Sharma & the genius Sumant Rao of Animagic India, the pragmatic role model of many Indian artists Vivek Ram & animation film maker Vijaykumar from R&H India and the experienced veteran 3D Director Bob Basavraj from UTV who is currently involved with The Dream Blanket. Straight on, the perspectives shared in this session urged the group to remember that animation was an art form and the whole story is all about the love and passion for this wonderful medium. Is animation really an industry? Is animation an art? Is animation a business? Are institutes really contributing to bring out the best animators? These few questions which were discussed amongst the animation filmmakers, the session showcased the perspective of an artist that how does he looks at animation and what does it take to hone good animators. Up first, Bob talked about the institutes, “In today‘s market, there are really few institutes which are providing real animation education and a very little amount of talent is coming in the industry, inspite of there being thousands of institutes and hundreds of thousands of students. We need artists with great vision and people who can understand the aesthetics of art.” I have been going through thousands of CVs and reels. Sometimes the reels don‘t even open, they are not made properly. The situation is such that I have to make an extra effort to find the positive aspect in every application i get, I have to make effort to understand what the artist would be good at…. point is all that has to be there bang on. Challenging the very mention of the term industry to denote animation, Sumant Rao pointed out that an animator, just like a doctor is a professional and animation is a profession. The term industry is all right for the business and marketing of animation content or for services business, but essentially animation is an art and it is a profession. “The approach of institutes must be to nurture and assist students in becoming the kind of animation professionals they want to be and make the kind of films they want to make” he shared. Talking about his studio Animagic he added, “We want to tell our stories through animation and as a studio we look for people who have the capability and desire to tell stories. Sumant also shared that he himself was fully dedicatedly teaching at Industrial Design Center at IIT Mumbai. “I urge institutes to teach soft skills including acting amongst others, rather than focusing on just teaching software skills,” Pointing out that according to him, institutes were not necessary as far as teaching software was concerned, Vivek Ram gave his perspective on the role of an institute and where it should fit in ideally in the ecosystem today. “I think the role of an institute is to be a conducive environment which has mentors that guides and directs students in their animation learning process. The focus has to be on the appreciation of animation, art and film making. There should be workjshops, discussions, critiques and review, the students need to be exposed to all kinds of work. Institutes need to help animators stand on their own feet by making them self driven in terms of learning. “It is not about teaching software manuals and creating button pushers and operators.” When it comes to teaching software, Vivek pointed out that software manuals could be learnt by students on their own. The content and ways to learn software can be gained from the internet which is easily available. He said, “For being an animator, sense of art and passion towards animation is required. This is a kind of industry where no matter what your degree or qualification is, but what matters is your reel and work. A student, who wants to learn the software, can sit on internet and learn them as it is easily available. If a student has a passion to be an animator, then I believe institutes should play a role to push that passion to bring out the best from that student in form of an animator.” “There are so many students in Mumbai itself, who don‘t know about what ASIFA, TASI, CGTantra and other communities which are dedicated towards the animation industry, are doing and when, Institutes need to get actively involved with these communities and associations.” he added. The one and only Chetan Sharma was completely aggressive on the figures which are doing the rounds.”Frankly its all a cycle, institutes use the Billion dollar figures and parents and students are lured, studios use these figures and then investors are lured. Where are the Billions of Dollars and is that the fundamental reason why we all want to be in animation?” “Animation is about passion and love for the medium, the art and the story telling. The world‘s best and biggest studios are where they are because they have the passion for animation. Even small studios like ours are there in it for the passion of it. I would sincerely urge the institutes here to please make their students focus on the animation, the communication and the expression of each thing they do rather than string some bones and models together in 3D and make them move. Because that is not animation.” he emphatically added. “Like they have mentioned today that nearly 90 features are being made in India, now don‘t we all want to ensure that these features should be of good quality? If we do then we need to ensure that we aspire to quality right from the time we teach the students.” In a concise manner VijayKumar the reigning DIGICON winner from India gave a valauble input on aesthetics and design and the importance of training students into the same. “To be an animator, aesthetic part of creation is required. When you create something, you should know that how is it looking? Every image has to communicate and express in a personal manner and that is what makes it special and therein lies its quality of being interesting and appealing to the audience too. This aspect has to be dwelt upon by institutes as to what are they wanting their students to learn and focus upon. Also, the institutes should focus on the curriculum wherein the designed course should maintain a standard to enhance the talent of a student” The discussion saw an active participation from the present members through a variety and number of questions asked and inputs given by them. Targeting Vivek Ram‘s point, Pixion‘s C B Arun Kumar said, “People are coming from smaller cities like Jhansi, Jaunpur and others but they have a passion to become an animator. Students who come from smaller cities really don‘t have much knowledge about English so they can‘t gain the knowledge over the internet. I believe that institutes play a major role in training the students and I know of institutes which train students in their local language and that is really helpful for them.” Concluding the session and the Interface discussions as well, Co Founder Anand Gurnani who moderated the day‘s proceedings remarked, “I think the basic premise of animation is that its a very “alive” and “exciting” medium. Institutes need to bring that element of “fun” , “characters” , “stories” and expressions to their teaching methods. I believe that will all this growth that is happening as well as more in store for the future, the Institutes are going to play a very important role in shaping the future of Indian animation and all must be done to ensure collaboration in the pursuit for excellence”.