To be considered an animator

To be considered an animator, you need to understand animation and be able to think of stories and characters. But many students mistakenly believe that being proficient with certain software qualifies them to be a successful animator.

From The Jungle Book to Toy Story to Beowulf, the animation industry has come a long way and is set to touch a billion dollars by 2012 in India alone. An Education Times counseling session on careers in this field, shed light on India’s growing importance in this burgeoning field.

There was a time when scores of animators laboriously sketched and painted each frame to make an animation film – 24 frames made, just a second of a film. But, today most animations are done on computers, making the process a lot easier and leaving little room for error. Using popular character like Baloo and Bageera from The Jungle Book and Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Kumar effectively demonstrated the advancing techniques of animation. The early animators used shading to give depth to their 2D animation. However, this was inconvenient as it was difficult to replicate the same shading in two different frames. Technology made the process simpler. Advancing technology also added a realistic touch to animation and in the 2001 release, Final fantasy, it was difficult to determine whether the characters were real people or animated figures.

Moving on from the past, the major trends marking the industry today are motion capture outsourcing, cost cutting, and rapidly changing technology. Motion capture is capturing of real actors and is used to add a realistic feel to character animation. Talking about outsourcing a big chunk of the technical work in animation is being outsourced to India. However, at present, this work largely comprises technicians involved in the back end production of animation movies rather than animators who idea stories. As for technology, it was changing so rapidly that one needs to keep tabs on what’s new on the fore and adapt to it. The dilemma of the early animators who had to move from pen and paper to computer. Although at the time many questioned the new medium, it was pioneers like John Lassater, Director and chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios who realized its infinite possibilities and adopted it whole heartedly.

Contrary to general perception, Kumar emphasized that mere technical knowledge is never sufficient to succeed in this field. Offering an analogy, to be a good writer you need to understand how to write not how to use a word processor. Similarly, to be considered an animator, you need to understand animation and be able to think of stories and characters. But, many students mistakenly believe that being proficient with certain software qualifies them to be a successful animator. As long as you have creativity and are either able to draw, take pictures or write story lines, there will be space for you in this field.

The speakers felt that a thorough educational grounding in animation helps give aspirants a head start in the career. Students should select a school that develops their creative skills, teaches currently used industry who can guide with placements and current practices.

Both the speakers felt that the industry offered immense possibilities for those passionate about animation. Many parents may feel that they don’t see too many Indian animation movies but there are huge opportunities fro this vocation in India. Besides back end technical work, India is also beginning to produce indigenous movies in this genre, like Roadside Romeo. Also, the number of prints and screens showing such movies has increased. In fact there is a scramble to secure talented animators in India and advises students to build on their work. Students need to have impressive show reels that are different from their peers. It is warned that passing off projects done in school as original work is not passed, because there are 10 others with nearly similar show reels.

The audience at the seminar comprising animation aspirants and students eagerly lapped up the details disclosed by the speakers. The session mended with question on the latest animation techniques and good training schools, followed by some enthusiastic networking between the audience and the speakers. The seminar not only cleared doubts it also helped network with industry stalwarts like Arun Kumar, which was a great experience. A cosmetic engineering graduate were delighted on hearing about the growing possibilities in this field, in India,

Pointers to select a good animation school

1) Develops creative ability besides technical know-how
2) Teaches latest technology
3) Provides guidance on current practices
4) Has faculty from the industry
5) Has a good placement record.