TASI’s Anifest India 2017 salutes indigenous IPs with ‘Return of the Jungle’ screening and curated sessions on second day

After an exciting first day filled with interesting sessions, Anifest India 2017 kicked off on day two with another line-up of promising sessions by erudite speakers. Like the first day, the second too commenced with a live sketching session from 10 to 11:40 am, with Chetan Sharma, Vaibhav Kumaresh, Vaibhav More and Vivek Ram assisting students. Students were asked to sketch specific live models but had freedom to pick anyone from the auditorium and sketch them.
Sketching session on Day 2 (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
After the session, all the volunteers of TASI-Anifest India who had helped put the festival together were felicitated. From assisting speakers and guests to picking up the mess after everyone leaves, the volunteers had worked rigorously and brought together a great festival. From 11:40 am was the screening of a part of Return of the Jungle, a 100-minute 3D animated feature by Vaibhav Studios which is still under production. The screening was clearly the most anticipated session as the audience hooted and cheered as the film was about to begin. The film is divided into two chapters of which the first was shown.
Team of volunteers that organised the festival (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
Return of the Jungle had been made in isolation by Vaibhav Studios’ team since many years. Vaibhav Kumaresh wanted to show the first 50 minutes of the film to an audience and get a feedback. The story revolves around the life of a bunch of school kids who get their learnings from the stories of the forest. A heart-warming tale with doses of realism infused, the film received rapt attention throughout. The resounding positive response became evident as the audience gave a standing ovation as the screening ended. The Q&A session along with feedback post the screening was encouraged a lot. Students pointed out multiple elements of the film that they could connect with while artists were in praises of the numerous technicalities that they thought were impeccable.
Team of Vaibhav Studios behind ‘Return of the Jungle’ (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
Kumaresh called the entire team behind the film on the stage and individually introduced them and their profile for the film. After the lunch break, Garbage Bin founder Faisal Mohammed took to stage to talk about creating an IP for the digital media. While most were aware of Garbage Bin, some were not. Hence he started off with explaining what his team does at the company. He then shared his journey full of crests and troughs as to how Garbage Bin came into being and what drove him to become a Facebook sensation in India, along with showcasing his comic strips. “I don’t try to be funny. I never try to be funny. I only take pieces from our own lives and put them into gags,” said Faisal. “The only mark I try to hit here is nostalgia.” And often when people see the gags that he has created, they find a little bit of themselves in there. The gags have parts taken from the daily lives of a middle-class family which lighten the mood of anyone who reads them. “For someone who leaves office in the evening, only a little smile and nostalgia will help relax. That is what I try to give through these gags,” he explained of posting the small comic strips on Facebook at a time when traffic is at a peak on the website.
Vivek Ram felicitating Faisal (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
What impressed students as well as other artists was the manner in which Faisal conducted his session- simple and straightforward. He very nonchalantly shared how their team faced controversies when they created games and content, before Garbage Bin was born. Faisal was effortless in the way he narrated his stories and the audience burst out laughing at the humour, a style that he seemed quite comfortable with. The session after that was taken by Ranjit ‘Tony’ Singh- creative producer, animation director and author of the only published book on animation production management. A founder trustee of TASI, his session was on The Creative Producer on IP Creation. Singh started off with asking the audience of what they know about production and a producer. He then expounded the role of a producer in live action as well as animation. He explained the difference between a producer, executive producer, associate producer, co-producer, assistant producer, line producer, production co-ordinator and creative producer.
Tony Singh during his session- The Creative Producer on IP Creation (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
Creative producer is required in the field of animation as it is necessary to keep finance and creative separate in this field. She/He works closely with the director and is aware of the medium, its capacity, challenges and everything related to it, and provides creative input to the director. Hence Singh strongly believes that a creative producer should have a thorough knowledge of the medium and about 15 years of work experience to take the post of a creative producer. “I do not understand when people post recruitment ads saying: Production Coordinators required, 1-2 years experience or freshers will do,” he said with annoyance. “You cannot put a fresher in a production role and expect her/him to drive senior artists, because its human nature that no one will listen to her/him. The lack of experience and knowledge will make them totally ineffective. A production department is not a messenger service and production co-ordinators should not be viewed as postmen. It is critical for a producer to really know the medium and the process because she/he has to get work done from others. Only after you have been through the entire pipeline playing each and every role can you even think of becoming a producer and only after you experience direction and creative, can you move towards creative production. And that coming from an experienced man like him definitely brought a lot of weightage and seriousness. During the Q&A session, students responded saying that it was genuinely an enlightening session as most of them were clueless of the functions of a creative producer and ignored it too. With a wholesome perspective of the post, they would now think of it as a long term career plan in the field of animation.
Vivek Ram explaining anatomy through sketches (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
After a quick tea break, Vivek Ram took to stage for his session on Creative Anatomy. For making the session interactive, he had pictures and sheets of paper where he would sketch and explain. “If you don’t know anatomy, your characters are going to be less believable,” he started. Two important things when understanding anatomy are the skeletal structure and the muscular systems. “How to balance these in a design you want to create,” he questioned. With the help of computer visuals and his hand-drawn sketches, Vivek elaborated on the muscular and skeletal systems of humans, animals and birds. One can create characters with even basic knowledge of anatomy but a deeper understanding of the body structures gives greater precision in the character modelling and rigging. And indeed, his session threw light on this unexplored beat and highlighted its significance. Towards the end of the session, he had a fun activity lined-up for the audience. He would create a unique creature out of the various animals, birds and reptiles. Dividing the new creature into head, body, arms and legs, he called for the names of the species that would have their part fitted into the new creature. Thus turned out the response and he had to sketch a creature with- a bull’s head, a lion’s body, a frog’s legs along with few additions like wings and three tails! Nonetheless, he took it up sportingly and created a beautiful sketch of the creature on the spot.
From left: Chetan Sharma and his team members from Animagic (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
He received a round of applause and lots of appreciation from the audience but went on to explain that along with creating a creature, the artist should be aware of the purpose that he is going to make the creature serve. “Only then it makes sense to give it a design that is not seen before,” concluded the speaker who was apparently loved by the audience. The last session of the festival was by Chetan Sharma- Animation for Change. Sharma showcased his films Ek Swacch NavbharatMangroves: The Shorekeepers of Mumbai and Raju & I, and shared the stories behind the creation of all of them. All the three films gave strong social messages and were selected for various film festivals across the world, winning awards too. Students gathered around the speakers at the end with more doubts and inquisition, and the thirst for knowledge was evident across the hall.
Vaibhav Kumaresh handing out a gift after the sketching session (c) 2017 TASI – Anifest India
“At Anifest India we talk only art, craft, technology and issues related to the same,” Singh told AnimationXpress. “This is a very big draw for artists as they get a chance to really interact with the community on a personal level. All our sessions are simple and easy to understand. All speakers are requested to make their presentations interactive and jargon free. This allows an easy  connect with the audience irrespective of student, professional or even enthusiast.” With that, Anifest 2017 came to end, closing on another successful event serving its part in the animation industry, educating the aspiring artists of the country and encouraging the production of Indian IPs and indigenous content. Singh added: “We want more organisations to come forward and participate on their own. Institutes should ensure that their faculty and students attend Anifest India every year as its a unique multi-day, multi-disciplinary event where you can learn and interact with the best artists from around the world. Also, if anyone is interested in presenting their work, or new technology, art related product that they may have developed, they should contact us to schedule a session in the 2018 edition at the earliest.” Well then, gear up we say!