FTII Pune signs MoU with Toonz Animation Studios to launch animation and visual effects design course

Global kids and family entertainment major Toonz Animation Studios through its education services arm Vizdem has announced that it is collaborating with the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune to offer animation and visual effects courses at the FTII campus in Pune.

Toonz and FTII signed an MoU to this effect, which aims to bridge the gap between industry requirements and academia by developing relevant skill-based courses in the Media & Entertainment industry. FTII registrar Sayyid Rabeehashmi, Toonz chief financial officer Subbalakshmi Venkitadri, in the presence of Toonz Animation Studios Education Services executive director Sasikumar, signed the MoU. With the FTII recently announcing the undergraduate course in ‘Animation and Visual Effects Design’ along with Toonz Studios being an industry partner will provide necessary support by mentoring the curriculum, arranging industry experts and academicians from Vizdem and also supporting internships for the students.

Apart from this, both Toonz and FTII also have plans to develop various animation and visual effects courses and to set up an incubation centre on the FTII campus. This will help the students to develop their own IP and reach out to broadcasters across the globe. As per the MoU, Toonz will collaborate with FTII to offer animation and visual effects programs under FTII’s Centre for Open Learning (CFOL).

Toonz Media Group chief executive officer P Jayakumar said, “This collaboration brings leaders in industry and academia to provide skill-based courses in animation and visual effects. Vizdem, our educational service arm is clearly one of the leading animation training institutes in India and we are delighted to join hands with the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, which is one of the leading film institutes in the world.”

On the occasion of signing the agreement, FTII director Prof. Sandeep Shahare said, “The collaboration with Toonz Is a great step towards addressing the gaps between academia and industry. The association will benefit students of Animation and VFX of the Institute and also will be instrumental in formalising internships and thus equipping them to meet the creative challenges in the career.”

Having started its operations in 1999, Toonz has a legacy of around 25 years. Toonz started its education services arm in 2002 and is now a pioneering institution in animation training in South Asia. Toonz Media Group’s position as a global leader in IP development, animation production, and distribution will further enhance the quality of education and training and will help prepare the students for global careers in animation.

Toonz Animation Studios’ Animation Masters Summit to take place on 12 and 13 May

Animation Masters Summit (AMS), the flagship event from Toonz Animation Studios will be held at Park Centre in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram on 12 and 13 May. The much-acclaimed event is making a comeback as an in-person event this year as the last three editions were held online due to pandemic-related restrictions.

AMS is a not-for-profit event that seeks to bring together the greatest minds in the media and entertainment industry and is hosted every year for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) professionals and aspirants. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Reimagining Entertainment: Now and Beyond’. AMS is the platform where veterans in this field are invited to share their experience and inspire young professionals.

The masters for AMS 2023 are a Spanish film director and producer Damian Perea, renowned voice-over artist Darrpan Mehta, creator and storyteller Siddharth Maskeri, visual development artist and production designer of Baahubali fame Rupali Gatti, managing director of Framestore India Akhauri P Sinha, dean and assistant professor from Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune Dr Milind Damle, and CEO of Gamitronics Rajat Ohja. The master sessions will be for about one hour, which includes 45 mins of masters talk and 15 mins of Q&A.

Started as “Week with the Masters” in 1999, the founding year of the Toonz, AMS had hosted highly reputable speakers and masters, such as Academy Award and BAFTA nominee Rob Coleman, Academy Award nominee Bill Plympton, Academy Award Nominee and BAFTA winner Shekhar Kapur, Academy Award winner Resul Pookutty, and others over the years.

The summit, co-sponsored by innovative software solutions provider Toon Boom will also honour the late Bill Dennis, one of the founders of Toonz and the architect behind the Animation Masters Summit with the ‘Legend of the Indian Animation’ award posthumously.

“Animation Masters Summit (AMS) is an integral part of Toonz’s legacy and the event is Toonz’s way of giving back to the creative community. The Indian AVGC sector has started getting attention from the government as it has huge potential and can provide immense employment opportunities. AMS will inspire young professionals and aspirants to become part of this journey and provide deep insights into the AVGC sector and opportunities,” commented Toonz Media Group chief executive officer P Jayakumar.

Toonz Animation Studios’ founding member Bill Dennis passes away; CEO P. Jayakumar pays tribute

Bill Dennis, who along with G A Menon formed Toonz Animation Studios in 1999 left for his heavenly abode on 22 January. The current Toonz Media Group CEO P. Jayakumar shared a heartfelt post remembering their leader and vowing to honour his legacy throughout.

“I am sad to announce the demise of Mr. Bill Dennis, who along with Mr. G A Menon formed Toonz Animation Studios in 1999. He was the first CEO of Toonz and his vision and passion has given identity to Trivandrum as one of the important animation centers in India. The seeds sown by him have sprouted and grown into a global kids and entertainment major,” Jayakumar mentioned.

He further stated: ‘his passing, the global animation community has sadly lost an important member and his absence will leave a gap in the community and for all of us at Toonz.’

“We will continue to honour his legacy and live by the values he taught us. All of us Toonz will sorely miss him and pray for his soul to rest in peace,” Jayakumar added.

Dennis who spent almost 20 years in Walt Disney Studios, passed away while asleep at home in Washington, Utah. His family was present there. As per a report by Chronicle-Tribune, he is survived by his wife Rhonda and three children- Tiersa (Perry Vayo) Dennis, William ‘Paul’ (Amy Carney) Dennis Jr. and Mireille Dennis Evans. Also, Bill has three grandchildren- Noah Dennis, Alex Evans and Grayce Dennis. He is also survived by his sister Jackie Hetler of Warren, Indiana.

Dennis, a travel lover, founded Toonz in Kerala and made it a hub for animation. During that time he also began his long tenure as ASIFA (Association of International Film Animators) executive director and founded the ASIFA India chapter.  Later in his career, Dennis was a founding partner of Zanymation Associates, a boutique animation studio with offices in the U.S. and Germany. Before retiring, he was also a founding partner of L.A.’s International Animation Consulting Group.

“Bill Dennis played a key role in strengthening Animation Industry in India and introducing UNESCO supported Global Non-Government Organization- Asifa to Indians for community building. As Asifa India President & President Emeritus, he focused on developing and shaping the community in India and travelled all across country to commence new sub-chapters. He was also passionate about the animation education in India. My thoughts are with his family. Passing of William ‘Bill’ Dennis is end of an era and animation community has sadly lost a key Asifa fan, Mentor and a gem of a person. We will continue to honour his legacy and live by the values he taught us. I personally got his guidance regularly and he launched Indore Sub Chapter during 2010. All of us at Asifa India will sourly miss him and pray almighty that his soul rests in peace,” said Horizon Institute of Design, Indore founder and Asifa India president Sanjay Khimesara.

“Bill founded Asifa India and he will be sorely missed ..he was a good friend, mentor and a great human being. I had travelled with him extensively and have done IAD’s all across India including Mumbai, Indore, Hyderabad etc,” said Dneg India studio head and Asifa India president emeritus Sesha Prasad A.R..

“I feel thankful to have met a wonderful professional – Bill Dennis. He cared about building an animation community in India. I was very fortunate to have volunteered with him. Thanks to him, I was appointed the President of Asifa India Chapter in 2006.He was simple and kind. He was persistent in building the community, he would always ask me for updates. I am going to miss his presence , his phone calls, emails and skype meetings. We honor you in our hearts and minds. Thank you so much for walking with us on our journey. Thank you for being our mentor. Lots of Love from me and the entire Animation VFX community in India,” said Dancing Atoms Studios and Asifa India president emeritus Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam.

Speaking to Animation Xpress during the foundational years of Toonz Dennis had shared, “The new studio will have a three pronged strategy including outsourced animation work for high visibility US Studios, Repurposing and Licensing of animated properties and development of original content here in India.”

Addressing talent crunch, back then only he had expressed that they will open their own animation school too if that is what it takes. Another option for him was to tie up with an existing institute franchise and inculcate their quality levels and curriculum.

Toonz Media Group employees paid floral tributes and observed two minutes of silence to mourn the sad demise of Dennis. All of them prayed for the departed soul to rest in peace.

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