Animation: Rewarding career for the creative

The animation industry in India is growing at the same pace as its abroad where it is a $70 billion business
Remember WaltDisneys box office hit movies Ants and Toy Story? Thats animation at its best. Animation is emerging as a vital component of computerised games, video technology, big-budget ad and feature films. The animation industry has also been boosted by the convergence of the Internet and media technologies. Visualisation and audio techniques are increasingly being used to interact and produce sophisticated computerised games, ad films, and motion pictures.

The annual income of the global digital animation industry is projected to top $100 billion by 2012. The animation market in India is estimated at $682 million (Rs.3,000 crore) according to Nasscom estimates. With a 30 percent annual growth rate, industry revenue is expected to exceed $1163 million by 2012, provoking leap-frogging demand for animators. According to industry estimates, there are only 10,000 qualified animators in the country, whereas the demand is for at least 50,000. With a mere 1,000–1,500 animators certified every year, and a large chunk lost to the US animation industry, theres a huge future for creative and artistic students aspiring for careers in animation.

Communication design is a specialised stream of design which is gaining visibility with the proliferation of the visual electronic media. It comprises three basic disciplines: graphic design or graphics, animation film design, and video programming. Animation film making is all about the techniques of putting together a sequence of drawings, each slightly different from the preceding one in such a way that when filmed and run through a projector, the figures in the drawings seem to move. This stream of communication design is used to make cartoon films, for delivering social messages, and for the production of ad films.

Professional programmes and training in communication design can commence immediately after the completion of Plus Two. Entry into most training institutes is based upon passing an aptitude test. Candidates must have drawing skills and interest in creative design.

STUDY PROGRAMMES. The best programme in communication design is available at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, which offers a five-year school leavers professional education programme (SLPEP). Admission notices appear in October every year for the session of the following year. In this five-year programme two semesters (one year) are devoted to a foundation programme in design. After that students may opt for specialisation in graphics, animation film design, or video programming.

Alternatively, students aspiring for a career in communication design could join any institute offering commercial art study programmes and then do a short course in animation which is offered by several computer training institutes such as:

Arena Animation Academy

Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics

Pentamedia

GameEDU

Workstation

Some of the institutes offering commercial art (apart from NID) are:

Sir JJSchool of Applied Art, Mumbai

MS University, Vadodara, offers diploma course, bachelor, and postgraduate degrees, in applied and graphic art

Rabindra Bharati University, West Bengal

Academy of Arts, Kolkata

Chandigarh College of Arts, Chandigarh

Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts, Mysore

Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi

Whistling Woods School of Animation, Goregaon

Toonz Academy with branches in New Delhi, Chennai, Trivandrum, and various other cities

Animaster with centers across India

Zee Institute of Creative Art with centers in several cities

Those interested in pursuing advanced level programmes in animation film design and visual communication can opt for programmes offered by NID and IIT-Bombay.

A successful and high-potential animator is Mumbai-based Mandar Shetye (33), a commercial art graduate (1994) of the Sir J.J. School of Applied Art, Mumbai who also has a diploma in 3D animation. I was so fascinated by the amazingly real animations in the film Jurassic Park, which I saw while a student in art school, that I decided there and then to become a professional animator,” recalls Shetye.

After completion of his studies, Shetye joined a small studio specialising in 3D animation and worked there to hone his skills as an animator. Two years later after having proved himself, Shetye signed up with United Studio, Mumbai a big post-production house offering 3D animation and special effects services to television producers and ad agencies. Here he masterminded highly-acclaimed animation ad films including the Pilsbury, Band Aid, and Smirnoff campaigns.

According to Shetye, the demand for animators is not only from ad agencies and post-production houses, but also from inventors and manufacturers of computer games. A few years from now the visuals seen in game consoles will become indistinguishable from pictures. The demand for high-tech games is increasing at such a phenomenal rate that a game tester might get $25,000 (Rs.11.75 lakh) while artists, programmers, and animators could earn between $30,000–100,000 (Rs.14–48 lakh) per year apart from royalties,” says Shetye who is now a much sought after freelancer.

For aspiring animators, Shetye offers some basic advice: You must have a visual sense, be observant, creative, and have a lot of patience. You have to be good at drawing and sketching using the computer as a canvas. In this expanding field, the money is good and there are enormous opportunities for animators who are continuous learners

As for Shetye whos already made a mark in 3D animation, he plans to set up his own studio very soon and his dream is to ultimately make a good feature film in 3D animation.

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