'Animation is no longer a one-man show'


Mike OwensIn the last 10 years, how far has the industry progressed?

In the US, Walt Disney dominated the movie industry during the early 80s. It started off with Beauty and the Beast, and 2D animation was the biggest innovation of that time. But when Toy Story came out in 1995, it shook the very core of the animation industry. Everybody wanted to go the 3D way. It was only in the last 10 years that we’ve seen an explosion in this line.

This is your second visit to India. What is the scope for animation? Can it go beyond the media and films?

Plenty, I would say. We’re a part of the digital world. Every small scale or large industry operates through the web. Websites require art directors or animators. Websites are one of the biggest consumers of animators. And besides, it’s not a one-man show anymore. There’s a whole team of experts working on everything from concept to post
production.

Besides being adept at animation softwares like Flash and Maya, what are the other key skills that one must have to make the cut in animation?

You have to be artistic. If not good with pencil, then you must compensate for that with a creative nerve. You have to practice drawing and sketching every day because you can be sure that it will never go out of practice here in my world. I draw every day, fearing that if I don’t, I may just lose touch. It also helps to observe your surroundings because some of the best creations in animation were inspired from nature. This skill will help a student turn art into performance. Of course, other skills like aesthetics and quality control can be developed only on the job.

You have interacted with several young animators in India and the US. What seems to be their biggest worry about this line of work?

Job security. It is the same story even in the US. Here’s how it works in this industry. It takes a minimum of three years to deliver a 90-minute animated feature film. So artists come aboard on contract for that duration. Most large scale multimedia projects function this way. But that does not mean that work will be sporadic. This seems to be the common concern among students.

Like you said, the profession is surging forward and is very much sought after. But is there a missing piece to the puzzle?

Oh, this is something I’ve given a lot of thought. Over the years, the concept of story telling has begun to fade. Patrons of animation are getting caught up with moving forward or are trying to develop software that simplifies the job. Even the finest and fastest of frames will lose the audience after the first 10 minutes. Story telling is a talent and I feel that we must pay more attention to that wing of animation.

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