ZICA’s Aesthetics ’14-’15 is our first students meet in history: Siddharth Roy

What is Aesthetics 2014-2015? Most animation institutes impart the basic skills required to get a job in the animation industry. However, propagating the intrinsic artistic sensibilities and aesthetics within students rather than teaching only the software, which keeps upgrading from time to time, would never make an artist go obsolete. That been ZICA’s mantra, and has also been the inspiration behind Aesthetics 2014-2015. ZICA has come a long way as an institute that has instilled aesthetics within its students, which is an apt reason for it to commemorate its core values with an event, rightfully and aptly called Aesthetics 2014-2015, which would bring together all its students from all across the nation under one roof and on a common platform for the very first time in ZICA’s rich history of creating artists. In one sentence, Aesthetics 2014-2015 is ZICA’s National Student’s Meet for the first time in its history. What is the message that ZICA intends to send to its students through Aesthetics 2014-2015 with reference to changing trends in the industry? The Animation Industry in India has gained significance as an outsourced destination for animation work due to low cost, skilled labor being its many advantages. In the recent past Indian animation companies and animation studios have been moving up the value chain to create their own intellectual property rights with Hanuman, Roadside Romeo , My friend Ganesha, etc. and partnering with international studios to produce animated properties for the global audience. Aesthetics 2014-2015 wants to convey to its students that though a majority of the work done by the animation industry in India is outsourced in nature, this is expected to change in the future with increased demand from the domestic entertainment industry. This would mean that their time to expose their creativity and achieving their much deserved glory is nearing, which is why Aesthetics 2014-2015 is also about showcasing their creativity via their independent films and awarding them on the same in various categories by a jury. Aesthetics 2014-2015 wants to convey to its students that India needs to mature to accept and appreciate animated films and this can be achieved when animation movies are made and released regularly.  Once it comes of age, dubbing animated films in multiple languages would help animated films hold a universal appeal without any barriers, all across India. Why has India become an outsourcing hub for animation films?
  • India has a vast base of English speaking workforce: Animation, which requires familiarity with the English language, benefits when the work is outsourced to India as most of the outsourced work is from the US and European countries. A number of animation companies in the country are also creating skilled manpower for the animation market through various training programmes.
  • Presence of good studios: India has the second largest entertainment industry in the world, after Hollywood. Animation studios in the country provide a large supply of low-cost, high-quality animators. A number of Indian animation companies have set up hi-tech studios (equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software) to execute overseas projects. A huge number of ZICA students have been and continue to be employed by such top notch companies / studios like Prana Studios, Prime Focus, After Studios, Red Chillies VFX, Prasad labs, DQ Entertainment etc.
  • Low cost of animation services: The main reason why foreign entertainment firms are flocking to India is the cost advantage the country offers.
How well-equipped are animation institutes that have sprouted across the country? Considering there is no centralized body to oversee animation education in India, what is the way forward? How does a student know which institute to go for? India has a wide range of students, who want to learn animation with high expectations to students with low expectations, because of ignorance in the subject and a need to enter the industry in a short time span. Hence there are different animation institutes catering to different consumers. There are a wide range of institutes offering a wider range of courses in India today. These range from short term courses that give you an insight to how things work in the industry to long term courses that emphasise on teaching a whole range of skills that make students ready for the industry at large. Certain institutes teach the software with adequate infrastructure that they offer, without honing the inherent artistic skills in the student. Students should opt for training institutes which brings forth the aesthetics within them rather than just the software, which upgrades from time to time. In the long haul, it is the authentic training institute which teaches the A to Z of animation, right from pencil sketching to 2D Classical animation to sophisticated digital 3D animation that would make a complete institution for a student to get an in-depth knowledge of the subject and the industry. Nasscom is a committee that helps an IT or IT enabled industry to grow by helping the government make policies, the animation industry being one of them.  Some of the universities in India have helped propagate animation as an independent industry. Animation is a vast subject and private institutions have always tried to carve a niche for themselves by specialising in any one aspect of it. ZICA however is the first classical animation institute, which teaches every aspect of animation; from pencil-sketching to digital animation and all that comes in between, making animation education a complete process.  This is why companies which recruit animators rank ZICA second only to NID and call it one of the finest animation institutes. If one were to consider the lack of adequate number of skilled animators, how well-trained are the faculty at some of the institutes, including yours? Good animators are essentially conscientious artists who sometimes want to come back and train to give their charity of artistic knowledge to new and budding animators. ZICA has such industry stalwarts joining as trainers to give back their contribution of art. It is the experience of the faculty that makes a difference. Faculty with prior experience in the industry would not only teach the required skill sets to the students but would also guide them according to industry requirements. Faculty at ZICA are industry stalwarts who have created a niche for themselves, hence they provide a hands-on training experience to the students with the latest methodologies and processes.  New trainers are taken on board only after undergoing a rigorous train the trainer session/s. You were also referring to ‘basic skills’ most animation institutes impart? Can you please define what those skills are, and what sort of skill sets does a student need to acquire in order to be successful in the profession? The first skill set is inherent creativity and a fertile imagination. An ability to create, a sense of aesthetics, a sense of color, an eye for detail, knowledge of anatomy, sense of weight and timing, the importance of time management, working in and as a team are the essential skills  for any animator. How would Aesthetics 2014-2015 help ZICA students in terms of learning? This event might help students to understand what animation is. Time and space to build skill sets and a thought process, with specialised training is the crux to success in this specialised industry. It’s very important for any budding animator to understand this and propagate the inherent artistic abilities in themselves rather than just concentrating on technical aspects of the software, which keeps on getting upgraded from time to time. It’s also an industry that requires a lot of hard-work, patience and hence, dedication. The satisfaction quotient cannot be achieved if one doesn’t have the passion for it! Aesthetics 2014-2015 is all about the virtues of passion and its creative consequences. (These are purely personal views of ZICA and AnimationXpress.com does not necessarily subscribe to them)