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Animation industry: Creating a whole new world

What is animation?

The world of animation is a world where reality meets imagination, where dinosaurs walk across silver screens, and where mind-blowing web sites greet the cyber voyager and take him on a journey of discovery.

Animation is the art of capturing a series of individual movements, whether on film or in digital form and replaying them in rapid succession to give the illusion of movement. It can be achieved using images drawn on a paper or other medium, with clay figures or papers puppets or using computer generated images.

Global outlook

The use of digital technology to produce visual effects for feature films is at an all-time high. Today, virtually every Hollywood movie employs digital effects in one form or the other.

In 1989 approximately 600 animators in the industry made a full-time living in digital film effects and the industry spent less than $100 million for the development of effects, on less than 30 shots. But today more than 100,000 animators make a full-time living creating digital film effects and the industry spends more than $2 billion for the development of effects, with the average number of shots more than 300 per film.

Animation in India

A recent study conducted by Andersen Consulting states that the Indian animation industry currently pegged at $550 million is slated to clock a growth rate of 30 per cent annually in the next three years and is expected to reach $15 billion by 2008. In the next three years India would receive more than $2 billion worth animation business, according to the study.

Meanwhile, Nasscom estimates the current global animation market to be worth around $45 billion and expects it to jump to between $50 billion and $70 billion by next year. It also states that India could use 3 lakh professionals in content development and animation by 2008, up from 27,000 three years ago.

The international animation industry is increasingly looking eastwards as the costs of real sets, studio space and outdoor locations skyrocket. India has one of the biggest film industries in the world as well as a reputation for low-cost high-quality software engineers. These are some of the reasons driving optimism in this sector.

The Indian advertising industry has actually pioneered the use of animation in India. Advertisements are increasingly using animation to capture viewer’s imagination. Also animations are touted to be the next big thing on the Internet as soon as the bandwidth constraints will be resolved. Another area where animation has a lot of scope is in the high-end game technology. This has a huge market globally, requiring both software and animation (creative skills).

Some of the leading animation design studios in India are Pentamedia Graphics, Crest Communications, Unilazer, Toonz Animation India Ltd., Magic Shop, Universal Studios, UTV Toons, Western Outdoor, Digital Canvas, ZICA and Shri Adhikari Brothers.

On a growth track

Apart from the local market, India is fast emerging as an important destination for outsourcing assignments from the global studios such as Walt Disney Pictures and Cartoon Network. India is increasingly presenting itself as a favourable destination for the animation industry, particularly in post-production and 3D content development activity. This surge in demand has spurred significant growth in the visual effects industry and has created high paying jobs for hundreds of digital artists and other technical specialists. There is also potential for the country to become a global animation hub.

Animation as a promising business proposition is a comparatively recent field of serious interest in India. India has seen at least 75 large animation post-production studios coming up in less than five years.

Indian animation studios are now marching ahead in the arena of creating original products and establishing their own intellectual property rights. In this area India has several advantages not only over China but the rest of the world with its rich history and culture of storytelling along with high quality artistic capability.

In India a new animation revolution is underway with Generation Next being exposed to world-class animation from TV channels such as Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Hungama, Pogo and Animax. This is also creating a domestic market for Indian animation products.

How do animators work?

Animators create sequences of motion picture art that tell a story or communicate a message. Traditional animators draw each picture individually on paper, which are then transferred onto film and when played back rapidly (about 25 frames per second) give us the effect of motion.

However, these days with the advent of powerful computers and software such as 3D Studio Max, Alias, etc nearly all animation work is being done on computer. Computer animators rely less on traditional graphic design expertise and more on proficiency on using the animation software. However good drawing skills are always an asset.

Nearly all animators are part of a team and have a specific area of specialization. Some of these areas include, character animation, three-dimensional animation etc. Some animators work on individual characters, scenes or sequences, others may work on assembling these together to form the complete picture. All work done by animators has to confirm to the script and specifications laid down by the director.

Career scope

The animation industry in India is in its infancy and offers a lot of scope for career growth. There is a significant demand for highly skilled and trained workforce that merges technical and artistic capabilities. There is an immediate need to increase awareness about the industry to attract talent and to offer-training programs that trains talent comprehensively in all the skills, but also focuses on skills that best suits the individual's aptitude.

The animation industry offers career opportunities in a range of activities - from technology-based jobs such as scanning, compositing, digital ink and paint, and game designing to creative guys like visual-effects supervisors, 3D modellers and character animators.

The bulk of the animation jobs are in the field of advertising which require short animation clips. Animation has its uses in entertainment as well as in practical applications in industrial research and scientific research.

Animators work in film and television studios, advertising and software production companies where they may be creating games and educational software.

What skills do you need?

Animators must have creative and artistic abilities. Flair for drawing, sketching, and painting is necessary. They must generate ideas, although they are known to collaborate with writers for ideas. They must be able to feel the pulse of the people. They must also have an observant eye to detect people's distinguishing characteristics and society's interesting attributes or incongruities along with a good sense of humour.

Along with these personality traits, a bachelor's degree or diploma in Fine Arts/ Applied Art/ Visual Art/ Commercial Art/ Graphic Design/ Animation Design and or Visual Communication Design are must.

You will also require professional training to handle animation and multimedia software like Maya, 3D Studio Max and Tictactoon, Flash, Giff Animator, Ulead, Adobe After Effects and so on.

A good portfolio is the primary means by which employers evaluate animators. The portfolio is a collection of hand-made, computer-generated, or printed examples of the artist's best work. Assembling a successful portfolio requires skills generally developed in a college/ polytechnic/ art/ design programme in graphic design, fine arts of visual communications. Internship also provides excellent opportunities for animators to develop and enhance their portfolios. Animators should be able to acquire an understanding of the technical aspect of the media - print, television, and multimedia as an additional input.

Courses and training

An animator's training consists of an understanding of the visual communication medium, the necessary training can be obtained at an art or design schools through Bachelor's degree or diploma programmes in Fine Arts/ Applied Art/ Visual Art/ Commercial Art/ Graphic Design/ Animation Design/ Visual Communication Design, etc.

Courses offered include undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Design. The duration for undergraduate courses is 4 years and for graduate courses is 2 to 2 ½ years. Eligibility for undergraduate courses is 10+2. For admission into postgraduate courses candidates need to be graduates in Fine Arts, Applied Arts, Design, Architecture, Engineering, Communication, Media, Film & TV, Mass Media. Graduates with experience in Animation Industry can also apply.

Apart from these a number of certificate/diploma courses in 3D and 2D animation are also offered ranging from a duration of 3 months to one year.

Institutes

The following institutions offer courses on animation:

  • National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
  • ZICA Studios, Mumbai
  • Amity School of Fine Arts, Noida
  • Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay
  • IIT-Guwahati, B.Des (Visual Communication/Industrial)
  • Arena Animation Academy , Mumbai
  • Pentamedia Graphics Limited, Chennai
  • C-DAC's National Multimedia Resource Centre, Pune
  • Pentafour Communications, Chennai
  • ZAP Digital Design Academy, Bangalore and Chennai.
  • Arena Animation Academy, Mumbai
  • Apeejay Institute Of Design , New Delhi
  • IIT Guwahati , Guwahati
  • Toonz Webel Academy, Kolkata
  • Maya Academy Of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), Hyderabad , Mumbai , New Delhi
  • Wigan & Leigh College, New Delhi
  • Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai
  • International College of Animation Arts and Technology (ICAAT), Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

 
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