One of India’s most prominent events revolving around all things animation, Toonz Media Group’s Animation Masters Summit opened for its 19th edition today. As always, this summit has a different approach compared to other such events of the country and it stayed true to its value. The venue stood testimony to its almost two decade-long run. Delegates had already gathered from all around and the seats filled up quick as the festival was about to kick off. With all eyes on the stage, the seats on the stage were filled by veterans and known names from the industry. After an energetic session of advices and words of aspirations from the opening speakers, the summit director, Avaneesh Muraleedharan officially green lit the event making way for this year’s masters to the stage. “The Summit is the expression of Toonz’s ever widening perspective on the art and industry of animation. This year we are celebrating ‘Animation and Beyond’ – an exploration of the infinite possibility of animation to grow into various mediums, platforms, interactions and experiences thereby becoming a brand in itself. We at Toonz take inexplicable joy and pride in organising the Summit,” expressed summit director Muraleedharan. The first master to grace the stage was Vaibhav Studios founder Vaibhav Kumaresh. Following the theme of this year’s summit of ‘Animation and Beyond’, Kumaresh in his way explained what it meant to him. According to him, it was very subjective as every individual is different in their own ways, which resonated with the crowd as well. The animator further went on to express his feelings about storytelling and how he wished to tell stories longer in length. However, he did not fail to tickle the ribs with the showcase of the studio’s globally acclaimed micro series, Lamput. On parting notes, Kumaresh asserted the young audience about the importance about having fun with their craft and not to run after the profits only and that the content will prove itself only when it reaches the audience. Following up Kumaresh was ChuChu TV CEO and creative director Vinoth Chandar. Chandar shared his journey of how experimentation with online video content led to the rise of the aforementioned channel which now stands at number one spot in the kids and family entertainment category on YouTube. The master revealed that the internet sensation video titled ‘Charlie bit my finger’ gave him further motivation to go ahead with the plan. Initiating with a web development business, the creator soon opened a channel with his daughter’s (ChuChu) nickname, creating her animated avatar to tell stories to pre-school kids. Soon the channel started gaining followers in abundance and the phenomenon happened. He further revealed the future plans for the channel. The channel, he said, would look into penetrating several more regional and international territories and would look to create content for higher age groups as well. After a brief lunch break the next master was up. Paul Robinson, throughout his session kept the audience at the edge of their seats with a barrage of statistics. From the popularity of influencers to the importance of mediums and licensing and merchandising, the session covered every area a content creator needs to focus while trying to reach out to the right audience and make a mark. He stressed on the point that television still stays strong as a medium, despite of various reports saying it doesn’t, however he did not fail to mention the importance of mobiles as a way to leverage the reach of content. He asserted that, creating good stories and characters were of immense importance, but never to keep its business potential out of mind. With AR/VR technologies evolving, change in the entertainment space is set to evolve at a rapid pace as well and Robinson advised everyone to be at par with the latest technologies and leverage the same to reap benefits. The moment had come for the last master for the day to address the crowd of enthusiasts. Firefly Creative Studio co-founder and director P C Sanath told his slice of the story to the audience. Starting off with his initial days of experience and VFX was of less importance in the Indian entertainment circuit and how he, along with his team brought about a change in the ecosystem and made VFX of equal importance, if not more to the system. He further delved into the nitty-gritty of the project portfolios of his studio and explained how very little things help in setting the tone and mood of a content piece. With a few words of advice, the master concluded his session. A traditional musical performance on finding one self drew the curtains for the first day of the Animation Masters Summit 2018 with everyone looking forward eagerly for the next day, and so are we!