Animation - Careers for a new generation

The focus should not be just teach software commands but teach the students to think as animation professionals and become creators of animation. Relevant assignments and class work should also be identified and linked to learning objectives. A lot of emphasis has to be on related softskills like team work, time discipline and deadline management.

The word "Avatar" for a teenager today has a completely different meaning. The elders of the family will refer to "avatar" as one of the incarnations to god, like "Ram" was an avatar of "Vishnu". For a teenager, who has grown up, not on the intrigue of Gods and Demons like our Mythology, but on a strong overdose of "Tom & Jerry" or "Scooby doo", storytelling is a completely different experience. "Avatar" for today's teenager is a high octane, State of the Art, path breaking 3D stereoscopic film directed by James Cameron with a lot of Animation and visual effects. The younger audience of today's world wants more from a storytelling experience. And to top it all, it is not restricted to films only. To jump in the bandwagon, is a host of television channels dedicated to animated content and children program. This has led to a growth of a whole new industry and careers.

Enter the realm of Animation - where dogs can talk and sing, lions and zebras can be friends and aliens from a far away planet can fall in love with humans. The art of moving inanimate objects to tell a story is called animation. Creating inanimate objects can happen through drawing, using live objects like clay or using animation software and hardware to create 3D worlds. Animation has been around for more than 100 years, but with the recent technological advancements and sophisticated hardware and software, animation has gone through a metamorphosis, creating realistic and believable experience.

Animation: what is it?

The Animation Industry in India

Animation is most commonly associated with Entertainment industry. But actually it is used in many other industries like Medicine, Education, Architecture, web design, Engineering, Product design, and one of the largest entertainment sector: Gaming. This opens up new possibilities of growth into other sectors thus making animation into one of the fastest growing industry.

After being fairly "static" until a few years ago, the Indian animation industry has boomed into an export oriented industry promising a lot of action for the country's leading design specialists. NASSCOM attributes the same to the rising technical manpower to meet the 2-D and 3-D animation requirements, lower costs of production, and the expected demand from domestic TV channels.

According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (FICCI), and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Indian animation industry is poised to attain a giant market size of INR 40 billion by 2020. With 200 plus animation studios, 40 VFX and 35 game development studios, the present Indian Animation market is pegged at an estimated INR 13 billion.

Indian animation Industry grew mainly on Outsourcing. The animation industry has been working on content which is conceptualized by other countries. But how long can the industry thrive on the outsourced model. India is a Big treasure house of Traditional Art and Stories. These art forms and stories have been passed down the generations, but sadly in current times, they have lost the glory.

Animation has lately become so high paying a profession that it is matching the pay packets of software professionals. Television channels are applying animation techniques as a relief from ho-hum viewing.

The requirement of the fast growing Indian television segment for animation and special effects- related work is also giving a fillip to this segment. Recognizing this potential, a number of Indian software players have turned their attention to animation. Indian cities such as Mumbai (which houses India's movie industry), Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram house some of the country's leading animation houses. Companies such as Crest Communications, Prana, Graphiti, Rhythm & Hues, Dreamworks, Paprikaas 2NZ Studios, Prasad Studios, Toonz Animation and Vfx studios like Prime Focus, Prasad Efx, Pixion, Red Chillies, are just a few of the ventures that have dedicated themselves to the world of animation and special effects.

Just because you have a good pencil, does not mean you are a good artist!

Animation is probably the most talked about industry in the current times, as we see a spate of international and Indian animation films making big bucks in the Entertainment sector. This has opened up many career options for wannabe Animators, Artists & technicians. But unlike the strong notion that animation is nothing but learning sophisticated hardware and software, it has always been a medium of storytelling and making films. Many well known animators and bigwigs in the industry have always emphasized on the Craft and Skill of Animation, than the software and hardware needed to create one.

Animation is a perfect blend of Art & Technology. It is all about visual expression, which involves story telling through films that brings characters to life. So it is all talent, a fine combination of skill and knowledge.

The training models followed in the last decade in India, focused a lot on learning animation and multimedia software, thus making the students very strong on tools but weak on the Art and craft of animation. This has created a huge gap between what is learnt and what the industry needs.

Bridging the Gap

The present need is to educate talented youngsters in the art and craft of animation production. A special courseware has to be created to address this purpose The education models need to focus on the overall aspects of animation than just the software tool. Emphasis should be on acquiring knowledge of art concepts and film making in animation, building skills in focus areas of specialization and then gaining practical animation film making experience, simulating a real life production studio.

Unique training models need to be setup. The focus should not be just teach software commands but teach the students to think as animation professionals and become creators of animation. Relevant assignments and class work should also be identified and linked to learning objectives. A lot of emphasis has to be on related softskills like team work, time discipline and deadline management.

Can I learn Animation and what are the skill require to learn Animation?

Anyone can do animation as long as they have a good sense for visuals. Animation is a team effort which requires large number of varied skills. Some of these skills need you to be a good artist i.e. you should be good at drawing. Some skills need you to be good in performing arts and some at photography. For example a typical 3D animation film has the following stages, Pre-production, Modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, lighting, post production. A Pre production Artist and Modeler needs to be good at drawing, whereas a texturing artist needs to be good at colors. An animator has to be good at acting and a lighting artist need to have good photography skills. With such varied skills required anyone can get into Animation industry. All that the student needs to know is what is the skill he is good at? Schools eQuinoxx Creative Academy offer specialization programs which focus on individual strengths of students and train them to be specialists. Other schools like NID focus on the storytelling and preproduction aspects of Animation thus making it compulsory for students to be good at art.

Applications of Animation

Animation is used in many industries. Refer to the table below to understand the varied use of Animation

Entertainment : Animated Movies, Visual Effects Television, Home Video

Product Designing : Fashion, Jewelry Interior, Textile

Gaming : Wireless games, Mobile games, Online gaming, Video console

Internet : Designing, Web Designing, Streaming video's, Animation on web

Education : Learning Tools, Visual tutorials for science subjects Standard teaching programs

Theme Parks : Character designing, Theme based animations

Advertising : Commercials

Architecture : Walk-through & Flybys

Medical : Anatomy Simulations, Simulating effect of Drugs, Research and education, Sports related

Engineering : Automobile, Aeronautics, Space research, Shipping, Robotics

What kind of Jobs will I get?

India has a large number of Animation studios, which are doing a range of work for different Industries including Film, Television, Advertising, Education, Medicine, Engineering, Architecture and Gaming. Large studios range from 2000 employees to 200 employees. Smaller and medium studios range from 10 to 200 employees. Students graduating from one of the good schools of animation would typically get placed in these studios and work in departments depending on their specialization skills. Salaries typically start from a range of Rs 10000/- to Rs 15000/- and grows to Rs.20000/- to Rs.25000/- after one year according to performance and experience. Some of the common job types are listed below....

Career opportunities in Animation & Gaming

Animation Profiles : Pre-prod Artist, Illustrator, Story Board Artist, Layout Artist, Character Designer, Background Artist, Character Modeler, Environment Modeler, Character Texturing, Environment Texturing, Character Rigger, Character Animator, Effects Animator, Lighting Artist, Compositor

Gaming Profiles : Concept Artist, Environment Builder, Pixel Artist, Character Artist, Layout Artist, Character Animator, Environment Animator, Level Designer.