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“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.” - Norman McLaren

Animated characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Tom and Jerry have been delighting and entertaining us for well over 50 years, now. What is animation? How is animation industry doing? What are the job opportunities in animation? Can everyone become an animator or is it limited to only a few gifted group of people?

What is animation? The etymology of the word ‘Animation’ is the Latin word ‘anima’ meaning soul. So, animation breathes life into a character. According to Wikipedia, animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. Animation is all about making of multimedia clips or movies, games or cartoons, graphically rich and attractive, created digitally on a computer. The methods deployed to create movies and cartoons encompass a variety of techniques.

Animation is a field for those who posses great creativity and drawing skills. To become an animator one may not require specific academic qualification. But, Anand Kannan, Relationship Manager at ToonSkool Advanced Animation Academy, Bangalore, cautions: “Animation is a combination of 70 per cent art and 30 per cent technology. But if you are academically poor you cannot give a good output.” So, to go places in this career a degree or diploma in animation would be quite essential. Many institutes in India and abroad offer graduation and diploma courses in animation besides the open course ware ones.

To get an idea about the various animation courses, offered as Opencourseware, you may browse the Open Educational Resources at http://www.oercommons.org. Among the animation OpenCourseWares listed here include the 250 odd courses at http://snipurl.com/tuftsopencoursewareanimation. These are offered by Tufts OpenCourseWare, a new educational movement initiated by MIT that provides free access to course content for everyone online, a free flash animation course offered online by Utah State University at http://ocw.usu.edu/Instructional_Technology/flash/drawing-tools-and-anim.... This is a course to learn how to add interactive functions and animation to websites using Adobe Flash, known earlier as Macromedia Flash.

‘Flash Animation’ introduces students to the software programme and demonstrates how it is used to add a variety of functions to web pages, including video. This Open Course Ware from Utah State University proceeds from the basics to include proficiency in the ActionScript programming language. If you’re interested in taking this course, lecture materials may be downloaded from the course site.

Getting to know about animation through Project OSCAR (Open Source Courseware Animations Repository), at http://oscar.iitb.ac.in/aboutOscar.do, is another option. OSCAR is the brainchild of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. The main goal of Project OSCAR is to create a large repository of web-based, interactive animations for teaching various concepts and technologies for classroom teaching and distance education. An auxilliary goal of Project OSCAR is to provide training opportunities to a large number of students. The training would typically involve the creation of an animation for a particular concept. It may also include management and maintenance of the animations in the repository.

Despite recession, animation is one of the fastest growing and most in-demand industries around the world. India too is racing ahead, it is emerging as an outsourcing hub for animation and visual effects. The Animation market in India is estimated to be worth USD 460 million in 2008 and is expected to reach USD 1,192 million by 2012. As many as 40 new animation ‘factories’ have sprung up in the country in the last six to eight months. And, according to Dr Ashok Kolaskar, former Pune University vice-chancellor and head of DSK’s animation institute, Pune, placement would never be a problem. Yes, it’s exciting times for the Indian Animation Industry, that means India potentially has a lot of growth in this area. It beckons those who posses creativity, drawing skills and passion to carve a successful career for themselves.
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