Do you know about Tansen’s Tanpura? hoichoi’s animated video looks back to its history

Animation has gained more momentum lately, with many live-action projects taking the help of the medium for announcements, promotional videos, teasers, trailers and so on. Owing to the pandemic and the lockdown, the medium has seen no stopping as it doesn’t require live shooting. Popular Bengali OTT platform, hoichoi has recently shared an animated video (in Bengali) on its social media handles in order to promote its upcoming web series, Tansen-er Tanpura (Tansen’s Tanpura). Starring popular faces of the Bengali film and television industry, the series follows a treasure hunt of Tansen’s famous instrument that has come down the ages after being passed on from ‘gurukul’ after ‘gurukul’ and different disciples.
Speaking about the video, hoichoi creative lead Rrik Banerjee told Animation Xpress, “People are aware of the name of Tansen but not much about the character or the personality, about what he was capable of. There are several myths around him and we focused on a few of them mythologising his Tanpura. We didn’t want to divulge much about the storyline of the web series, and it was primarily setting a context to who Tansen was and his magical talent and capabilities.” The video kind of introduces the legendary musician, his rhythm and his potential that evokes a sense of grandeur. The storyline is set between 1980s and 2020 and the Tanpura is now considered to be a heritage property – a treasure trove. Through this animated video, the hoichoi team connects the myth of Tansen and his instrument with the story of the web series, about the treasure (Tanpura) hunt. There’s a lot of research that went behind this video. As Banerjee informed, “Our production team was already researching on Tansen for the web series, about his myths and other information that we could gather around him.There was extensive research done on the historical facts – about the kind of Ragas he used to sing and compose. Eventually we picked up three myths from the innumerable ones which would visually look very dynamic and cinematic, because we had to connect his instrument, the Tanpura to the story of our web series.” The video showcases three incidents of Tansen’s talent, one where he comes before the wild elephant and stops it from harming people, next we see him singing at Akbar’s court and the third where he is singing Raga Dipak and his body catches fire. He then comes out of the courtroom where his daughter Saraswathi is singing Raga Meghmallar, and it starts to rain. hoichoi has a team of illustrators, designers, CG team in house for its productions who created the animated video. Sharing the process, Banerjee mentioned, “We first figured out the tonality of what the colour schemes should be and how the character should look like. Since this was not the only project that the production team was working on but an n number of serieses that the same team is working upon, so we tried to keep it minimal yet realistic. So we chose a simple, traditional 2D animation method. We chose a minimal design which would put the characters forth and take ahead the storyline of the web series.”
Akbar and Tansen
The frames were designed in Adobe Photoshop. The animation was done in Blender and the colour-correction was done in Adobe After Effects. The Background Music, Sound design and Mixing was done in Pro Tools.The overall animation took close to a month for the team working simultaneously on other projects. The music, SFX, mixing and other aspects altogether took another four to five days as the final touches were being done on the animation. The video consists of layers of animation – for instance in the forest shot, you will see that the grass is of one layer, and the characters are in a different layer. The video was primarily made with layered illustrations, and we moved the camera around those elements to give a good look and feel. There are no 3D elements in the video, but you get the depth of feel and the perspective of a 3D animated storyline because the camera moves around the storyline and the elements. It was primarily those camera movements that catered to our needs,” added he. Banerjee emphasised on the entire thing being the product of the team’s hard work and passion who completed it entirely while working from home owing to the current scenario. The team consists of –
Tansen singing at Akbar’s court
Motion Graphics Artist : Sourajyoti Sinha Roy Illustrator : Rhiddhiraj Palit Script : Tathagata Ghosh Background Score : Ashish Kumar Das Sound Design and Mixing : Subhadeep Mitra Voiceover Artist : Satinath Mukhopadhyay They connected through their Cloud Studio and all the members from editors, to designers, illustrators, CG artists and animators were provided with machines so that work could go on smoothly. Everybody worked remotely starting from conceptualisation to music to background score, everything. They’re still working from their homes.
Few of the team members
Commenting on the recent trend of using animation for live-action and projects, Banerjee noted, “Nowadays animation by default is a part of any traditional teaser, trailer or ancillary content through the logo animation, communication plates and more that go in the creative. These animated elements not only enhance the overall look and feel of the project, but also create a perception around the same. I believe the viewers have reached a saturation point with the bombardment of live-action content at any and every touch-point for their content consumption. Using only animation to tease or launch a live action project primarily breaks that monotony and greets the viewers with something which they weren’t expecting. It also helps us in creating a world which otherwise would be way more difficult to achieve.” The video looks very fresh, unique and piques the curiosity of the audience who will now eagerly look forward to the unveiling of the truth about the Tanpura. Tansen-er Tanpura begins streaming tomorrow, 26 June.