VFX In Tęte-ŕ-Tęte with Sandhya Prabhat – Animator and Illustrator -

In Tęte-ŕ-Tęte with Sandhya Prabhat – Animator and Illustrator

Sandhya Prabhat, alumni of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia created her first animated short film ‘DinnerTime’ in 2009, following up with ‘My Space My Time’ a collaborative effort with the students of NYU in 2010 and then came back with her latest- ‘Deadline’

Produced at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia as graduate thesis film for the Master of Fine Arts degree, Animation and Digital Arts program. Deadline was not just a flash in the pan, having gone on to receive numerous recognitions and nominations including reaching the semi-finals at the Adobe Design Achievement Awards 2012 under the ‘Animation’ category.

From then, Sandhya Prabhat has gone on to work on animation projects for clients such as Woosh Pictures (Singapore), PreeVu.tv, Shopo.in, HCL Technologies, The Times of India and Candlelight Studios to name a few.

Animationxpress.com’s Ishpreet Chandock caught up with Sandhya Prabhat, currently working as a freelance animator and illustrator. She talks about ‘Deadline’, herself and what we can expect from her in the 2013.

First, a warm welcome to you to Animationxpress.com, I would like to first know more about Deadline, and how did you conceive the concept of it?
When we had to come up with ideas for our thesis films, I was re-reading John Fowles’s ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman.’ I had earlier studied it while pursuing my Bachelor of Arts in Literature. The meta-narrative fascinated me. I didn’t realize it then, but now I do, that that may have been an inspiration for ‘Deadline’ which also deals with the power struggle between an author and his creation.

Can you name the artists who have worked on Deadline?
We each had to make one graduate thesis film from beginning to end at Tisch. So, I had to do everything from writing the story, to pre-production to animation and editing, with guidance from my teachers. The music has been composed by Ved Shanker, a very talented music director from Chennai.

What amount of research had been undertaken before production?
I did not know how much to research or what to research at first. But I realized that as the film making process unfolds, at each stage there are questions that naturally present themselves to the filmmaker. When I swerved, my teachers pulled me back on the right path.

I filled a sketchbook full of doodles and notes about my two characters in ‘Deadline’ And what they would do in a lot of situations. I even know what the Writer would have For breakfast every day. These details weren’t necessary for the story of the film, but in My case, this helped, I hope, to add dimension to my otherwise flat characters.

You have done three animation films so far with Deadline being your latest offering. What have you brought different on the table with every film? What things did u learn from each one of them?
All three films were created as projects while I was studying at Tisch, with different goals in mind.

‘Dinnertime’ was the first time I was animating with a concept, shots, storyboards, character designs and a soundtrack. I asked to animate a simple story that wouldn’t take too much time to produce and decided to explore a common family situation. My friends voiced the characters. It was an exciting experience as it enabled me to understand how the medium works and how it can be shaped variously for creative storytelling. ‘Dinnertime’ also got me my first film festival experience!

‘My Space My Time’ began as an ambitious technical attempt which my friends Tzu-Yin Weng, Kai-Sen Chan, Jeremy Chia and I did, as a final project for one of our subjects. The film was created more to be a colorful visual feast, combining time-lapse and animation, rather than tell a story. Our red-haired girl travels through various painted canvases while reading a book, as we continue to paint them alongside. The film has been screened in many countries and has won awards. We are even now thrilled by it, and would love to create a part 2 when the opportunity arises.

In ‘Deadline’ I tried to portray the artistic struggle that a writer goes through. At one point, just as my protagonist’s character refuses to work with him in the film’s story, my film was refusing to work with me. My teacher Patrick Smith helped me overcome this and we got the film an ending. The process of completing the film become doubly rewarding for me

Can you please share the credits for the team behind Deadline?
Directed and animated by Sandhya Prabhat. Music by Ved Shanker Sugavanam. Faculty Advisors: Patrick Smith, Thomas Thesen, Emil Polyak, Matt Sheridan, Jean-Marc Gauthier, Al Sim.

What do you like more indulging in, animation or illustration?
I love to draw (and sometimes write) and am contented doing whatever involves my Putting pen to paper. So I enjoy doodling, sketching, drawing, painting and animating. I try to update my blog with my sketches and the DIY projects I try out at home

A good illustrator has a better understanding of characters and the visual medium, it is said. How far is this true? Did this help you while creating drawings for ‘Deadline’?
On the contrary, my training in animation has I believe, helped make my illustrations more alive and spontaneous!

Who was the target audience you focused on while making it?
Anyone who would watch it! Even now, every time someone watches the film, I am anxious to know if they understood since the film has no dialogue and is a strange narrative. So far, so good. Everyone gets it. I’m happy.

Which festivals and art programs have you screened it in so far?
We had a thesis screening where ‘Deadline’ was screened in the Tisch Asia campus. Following that, it has been screened in Singapore, India and the U.S. A, in festivals and art programs.

What kind of look and feel is given to Deadline?
Since I was attempting a meta-narrative, I tried to have the look echo this. The writer visually is placed on the paper that he’s writing on. I also tried to make the characters look as though they were doodled or inked.

I believe Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo watched your film. What did he say?
Tisch had arranged for Mr. Khoo to watch our graduate films. He saw ‘Deadline’ and said that the film was “well-executed, cleverly told and unique.” ‘Deadline’ was one of two films then selected by him to receive a grant from NYU to be remade in Stereoscopic 3D.

Tell us more about yourself?
I am from Chennai, India and I reside here now. I work as a freelance animator and illustrator. I did my schooling in Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School and completed my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Stella Maris College before going to Tisch Asia.

As an artist juggling between two visual forms is a task. What kind of projects have you been working on lately?
I have been working for a bit over a year as a freelance animator and illustrator on a number of exciting projects. Along with my friends Jeremy Chia and Ishaan Kumar, I animated for The Diary of Amos Lee TV Series, based on the bestselling book series by Adeline Foo and airing on the MediaCorp Okto Channel now in Singapore. I have also completed animation projects for clients such as PreeVu.tv and Shopo.in. I have been regularly doing illustrations for The Times of India newspaper and some magazines. I was involved in designing and illustrating an e-book for HCL Technologies. My sister Chaaya Prabhat and I illustrated a set of textbooks for Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (BLPS). My next sets of projects are now in progress now.

What is the kind of work excites you to take upon as an artist?
I enjoy dabbling in the visual medium. I’ve enjoyed designing, illustrating, animating and writing for projects over the last year. Alongside, I am working on developing my own content and ideas. I look forward to developing at least a few of these into finished products in the coming year.

As a viewer what are the projects have inspired you?
The internet is a boon. I work from home but I am able to read about, hear about and interact with artists, entertainers, filmmakers, storytellers and performers from all over the world. I enjoy doing this on an everyday basis and keep a record of all that inspires me. So to point out all projects that I’ve liked is close to impossible. Every week there are new favorites. This week’s artist obsession includes Shaun Tan, Marjane Satrapi, Quentin Blake and Art Spiegelman.

As an animator, what do you prefer traditional animation or computer animation?
I am open to using either of these methods and others. I don’t think it matters how the animation is done as long as it helps convey the point, or tell the story or express the idea as intended.

What kind of projects do you take up and how?
Professionally, if a project sounds exciting and inspiring, and is within my capabilities as an animator or illustrator, I go for it. My personal projects range from simple everyday experiments with sketching and animation, to writing down ideas and stories that I might some day make into animated films!

Being a freelance animator and illustrator, does it allow you the leverage to your creative freedom? Does it prevent succumbing to monotonous work and boredom?
It has been exciting being a freelancer and handling multiple projects. I’ve had the chance to mingle and collaborate with people from various locations and have had to handle many types of creative challenges. Hardly any time to be bored! So far, I’ve had immense creative freedom in the kinds of projects I’ve taken up. I am happy working this way.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2013?
I am doing children’s illustration work and am also engaged in some commercial and short animation projects now. I’ve simultaneously begun work on my next independent animated short film that I hope to complete it in 2013.