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Career Corner

Are you game for animation?


Creative world: Animation is a mix
 of imagination and technology.

A rich, spoilt hero’s story from riches to rags, battling it out in the wicked dog-eat-dog world, getting infected with a dash of puppy love, with a song and dance sequence thrown in for good measure… sounds run-of-the-mill? This is the storyline of what promises to be India’s first animation Bollywood blockbuster, under the Yashraj-Walt Disney banner, except that the cast will be all dogs! With local movies such as Hanuman and international films including Chronicles of Narnia and Stuart Little being made in India, the animation industry is on an upward trajectory. India is steadily overtaking the traditional players in the field such as the Philippines, Korea and Taiwan. It is boom time for animation heads, with a growth rate pegged at 30 per cent annually, resulting in a $15-billion industry by 2008.

According to NASSCOM, India will receive animation business worth $2 billion. A key factor restricting the growth of this industry, however, is the scarcity of skilled professionals. NASSCOM reports indicate that the industry needs 3,00,000 professionals in content development and animation by 2008, up from 27,000 three years ago. Keeping this in mind, several animation courses and institutes have mushroomed in the country over the past few years.

Options at hand

If you can draw a straight line, can visualise shapes and objects, and have a keen interest in story-telling for a humongous audience, then animation may be the career for you. From creative pursuits such as making animation films and creating those special effects in Matrix, to scientific applications of architecture-based software, studying animation is like walking the tight rope between art and science.

There are around 515 production houses in India and many more institutes offering courses. Rajesh V., Regional Market Head at Ants Animation School, Bangalore, says “The candidate must be interested and should have a basic aptitude for drawing.” There are several different aspects of animation education — modelling, texturing, lighting, animation, rendering and special effects — of which animation is the most in demand.

“Students can either be Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA) or graduates in engineering and science. This field needs both an artistic inclination as well as scientific thinking. The BFA students have strong foundations in drawing and colour; so we teach them the techniques,” he says. The purpose is not to turn them into artists but to equip them with software skills. “It also requires a lot of hard work. Classes may be for four hours but they must practise for another four hours everyday.”


Like the IT industry, this industry too finds many diploma holders who are not employable. “Some institutes do not offer proper training or internship. This is a very industry-oriented course, which is why institutes which are attached to production houses are at an advantage,” says Aruna Kumar of Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics.

At Maya, students work on software that is used in Hollywood like Z-brush, Eyeonfusion and Final Cut Pro (for editing). “These are high-end software which deal with detailing and such finer aspects. Our course prepares them for the industry by making them work on projects past their non-disclosure periods,” she points out.

“We also prefer BFA students because they have that artistic vision, but there is not much awareness among them about animation,” says Ms. Kumar.

Most students come from an engineering background where they are exposed to these subjects during their course.

An average student from one of the reputed institutes will take home a starting package between Rs. 17,000 and Rs. 19,000, while a good student can nail a pay package up to Rs. 35,000.


Gone are the days when gaming was synonymous with the ubiquitous PC games. The rapid growth of mobile technology in India and the rising popularity of console and internet games ensure that gaming is not the geek’s domain anymore.

According to NASSCOM, the global gaming market is expected to grow by 78 per cent and reach $300 million by 2009, from a present paltry figure of $30 million. Most of the gaming development in India is on mobile platforms, and that’s where the industry is headed.

“As far as gaming goes we are at a very nascent stage. Zapak has now begun to create its own Intellectual Property, but most of what we get is rather technical,” says Ms. Kumar.

The game development industry is divided into back-end jobs such as coding which requires engineering/software background and front-end which is the creative or artistic part.

“Console gaming, though very popular, has not taken off because of the cost factor. India has the fastest growing mobile market which is what we are placing our bets on,” says Bhaskar Dutt, head of the gaming division of TATA Exclsi. It is setting up a mobile gaming team in Pune and console gaming team in Bangalore.

More complicated

The major difference between animation and gaming is that while the former is a one-time rendering, the latter deals with real-time rendering. “That makes working for a gaming project more complicated, but the extent of detail involved is a lot lesser,” explains Mr. Dutt.

Though a lot more companies are working on both national and international game development projects, the industry is still looking for that big break! “We have the skill and the expertise but we are waiting for the ‘Sholay’ in gaming,” he adds with a laugh. From Rhythm and Blues, which did the background and the role of King Aslam for “Chronicles of Narnia,” to our very own Hanuman, attitudes towards animation in India are changing, but animators complain that most of the work does not satisfy their creativity. “Some of us do graphics and the rest of us code according to the requirements laid down to us to fit those parameters. That creative spirit in us tends to fizzle out,” says Shreyas Vaswani, an animation artist.

Sequences are visualised in great detail before being outsourced: the characters are modelled, movements are programmed, and all instructions are given in video format. This leaves very little scope for anything but mechanical execution.

“The industry is at a nascent stage and the Indian market is warming up to the idea of animation movies for adults too,” says Mr. Dutt.

“The issue is multi-pronged, and the lack of talent is an equal cause for concern. We have 17,000 animators, while we need at least 200,000, and the shortage is also in terms of the quality of available professionals. We are talking to NID and others to see if we can train their students to suit our requirements.”

© Copyright 2000 – 2007 The Hindu

Filed under: Career Corner,

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