Wednesday, July 5, 2006


2D and 3D animation has created lots of jobs in the fields of music, publishing, graphic arts, films, television, advertising, corporate communications and gaming, writes Usha Albuquerque

Animated stills from Krrish

Shrek 2
Animated stills from Krrish and (right) Shrek 2

The recent release of Krrish with Hrithik Roshan achieving impossible feats, is an eyeopener for what animation and 3D modelling can do. But haven’t you also enjoyed the antics of Shrek ! Or the mind-blowing special effects in Matrix? Ramayana — the Legend of Prince Ram has captured the fancy of US studios and won prestigious awards. The Shah Rukh-starrer, Duplicate, with a dozen Shah Rukhs on the screen together is another treat! In fact today, many of the animators for Hollywood blockbusters like Titanic and Batman Foreover are Indian, and India is emerging as a big base for outsourcing animation and digital special effects work for studios such as Disney Pictures, Spielburg’s Dreamworks and Cartoon Network.

In this computer age, multimedia is an essential part of the entertainment industry. Integrating video, audio, text and graphic components in an interactive format, multimedia technology’s applications are wide-ranging. Today, artists don’t just work with easels, palettes and brushes. It is the mouse, rather than the brush that is used to create a range of colourful careers that didn’t exist earlier. Once considered synonymous with children’s cartoon films, today animation and multi-media provide high-growth careers in music, publishing, graphic arts, films, television, advertising, corporate communications and gaming. And if that’s not enough, how about multimedia applications extending to education and medicine too.

Basically, there are two main work areas for a multimedia professional. One is creation of graphics, animation and usage of audio-video. The other area is: application of multimedia for a range of usages including books, CD-roms, corporate and marketing presentations, TV and films.

Magic of multi-media

Creation of multi-media is similar to movie making. It first requires the preparation of a storyboard which provides a visual script for the animation sequence. Then modeling is used to convert real objects to animated ones by optically scanning them and converting them into digital format. After that you have to work in the movement by manipulating the static images frame by frame to give the illusion of movement. You then add on the light, colour, transparency, shadow and texture to the object or character Once the visual aspect is done, the audio and music effects are added on.

Animation is a long and tedious process. For a simple five-minute animation film almost 50-60 animators are required to work full-time for two weeks. Of course, if it had to be done by hand drawings, as earlier, it would possibly take double this time!

Often the storyboard with pre-recoded dialogue is prepared by the client — the film director, ad filmmaker or international studio. The animators then work on the line drawings and the detailing, fill in the colour, lights and texture and introduce the movement and then send it back to the client.

While 2D animation is being widely used, 3D extends it to virtual reality. Through the use of digital filmmaking high-budget films work out a variety of special effects into a film sequence. Films like Lord of the Rings and Matrix have been composed on the computer where the set is designed in 3D. The actors are then given positions for movement keeping in mind this virtual ambience. Today, there are a variety of multimedia software programmes such as Maya, 3D Studio Max, Adobe After Effects, Giff Animator, Flash which generate movement with great precision and reality.

Placement prospects

The potential of multimedia and animation extends to diverse fields:

Radio, television, advertising and the film industry: Cartoon films are becoming very popular in India, and practically every television channel presents Indian stories in cartoon format. Many ad films are made entirely in animation to capture the viewer’s interest.

Interactive Multimedia: There are any number of interactive portals and websites today, conveying information, or used for training. Interactive CDs too are being produced for a variety of educational and promotional purposes. With convergence and new interactive technologies being developed every day, specialists in this area are also required for online education, and video conferencing.

Publishing industry: Multimedia professionals function here as illustrators, animators and graphic designers who organise the page layouts of magazines, books and newspapers.

Fashion industry: Fashion designers today also create their designs on multimedia packages crafted specifically for them. Graphic design studios: Multi-media professionals–graphic designers, visualisers, compositors, character developers and modeling artists provide animated formats for a variety of design usages.

Gaming industry: Software for computer games is emerging as a hot field globally. High-end gaming technology is transforming video games not only for children, but for the entertainment industry too. There are several other areas where multimedia is being used — orthopaedics, aeronautics, robotics, research.

Course clues

Apart from having inborn artistic and creative abilities, which are essential for this field, you also need an observant eye, a sense of humour and an understanding of human behaviour. In addition, you need a strong imagination, attention to detail, exceptional visualising abilities, patience and perseverance.

You also need to have certain academic qualifications. And training here is mainly in the form of:

Undergraduate level degree/ diploma training courses in art or design, which includes training in animation.

Postgraduate level degree/diploma courses, in multi-media and animation. Art students generally fare better because of their visual sense and imaginative capabilities.

There are several institutes offering both long and short-duration courses. The course content mainly includes: training in aspects of interactive multimedia and non-interactive multimedia. While Interactive Multimedia includes training in areas such as CD Software Development, Multimedia Programming, Multimedia Presentation, Virtual Reality and Authoring, Non-interactive Multimedia mainly covers the aspects of Audio Visual, Multimedia Animation, Post-Production Support and Image Processing.

Some courses also include modules on digital filmmaking.

Future scenario

In India, almost 70 companies are involved in animation work and this figure is steadily increasing. At present, there are about 3000 professionals working in the field while the demand is for at least 20,000. So, the opportunities for talented people is enormous.

A good portfolio is the primary means to judge animators. Prepare a collection of computer-generated and handmade samples of your work to show prospective employers. While qualifications are a means to establish your knowledge of the technology, a good portfolio determines talent.

Companies providing multi-media and animation assignments include graphic and animation studios such as Crest Communications, Pentamedia Graphics, Jadoo Worm, Escotoonz, Heart Animation, Toonz Animation India, and several others.

Money matters

Starting salaries are approximately Rs 7,500 to 10,000 per month for trainees. After 2 years’ work experience, salaries could be in the range of Rs. 20,000 to 30,000 per month.

Freelancers can make a lot of money, depending upon the amount of work available. And today there is no dearth of jobs in this area.

Animation and multimedia is a relatively new career but is today among the fastest growing careers. Although the concept of animation has been there before, digital and computerised hi-tech animation has come up only in the 1990s and everyday new technology emerges. There are still a number of areas to be yet explored. Moreover, being a very young industry, the average age of professionals here is considerably lower. So, not surprisingly, the work environment, though achievement-oriented, is informal. Work is challenging, and excellence is well and quickly rewarded.

So are you ready to start painting your way to the top?

Training talk

Prominent institutions offering training (Diploma/ Certificate courses) in multimedia and animation include:

Govt College of Art, in all the major cities;

The National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad offers full-time 4-½ years Diploma courses in Graphic Design, Animation Film Design and Video Programming

  • Heart Animation Academy, Hyderabad;

  • ZICA-Zee Institute of Creative Arts, Mumbai.

  • Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics, New Delhi and Mumbai

  • Arena Multimedia in several cities

  • SAE Technology College, New Delhi, and Chennai

  • Gecko Institute of Animation, New Delhi

The writer is a noted career expert