Animation Career Information
What an Animator does
Animation is basically giving motion to an object. To animate means to give appearance of movement using varying drawings. Drawing each and every frame individually with gradual variation does it. The procedure is hard, and requires patience. The drawings are then played at the desired speed, which makes its look smooth.
Animators create sequences of motion picture art that tell a story or communicate a message. Traditional animators used to draw each picture individually on paper, which were then transferred onto film, and when played back rapidly (about 25 frames per second), gave the effect of motion.
Animators work as a team. Basically, the work consists of making drawings and working under a supervising animator, who usually gives out the scenes that are shorter, and works on the longer ones himself. Animators do the acting, gestures, mouth shapes, but are not responsible for every single drawing in the scene. One second of 35-mm film can consist of 24 frames, but lots of people work on it.
Most animators say it's a rewarding experience. The work is not as technical as it sounds. It requires more of creativity. It gets technical though in certain scenes, when you have to keep track of the character walking in front of a moving background, especially if the character is also moving towards and away from the camera. To excel in this field you have to know the character you are animating - how they'd respond or react to something.
Animation scenes are denoted by number of feet, so you're responsible for certain amount of footage. Four to eight feet will take you about a week.
There are various forms of animation, such as Clay Animation, Puppet Animation and two and three Dimensional Animation (responsible for Classics like The Lion King, or the path breaking Stuart little).
A major chunk of the work happens to be in the advertising agencies. You'll be involved in making short animation films for ads. Even independent television and film production houses employ animators to produce cartoon film and the likes.
There are also some animation studios and multimedia design agencies specialising in animation. Once you are known in the industry, you can also get into freelancing.
In India, the scope for professional animators is mostly restricted to the field of advertising. But then, the film and television segments are growing.
The animation industry the world over is also growing. With the development of requisite skills, Indian companies are bagging orders for animation production from advanced countries due to cheaper costs. As a result, there is a growing demand for talented animators with the right software skills. This trend is expected to continue in the future."
Abilities & Traits Required
For a bright career in animation you need:
A good hand at sketching
Strong imagination, visualisation, and illustration skills
"To make a mark in this line a course in animation is necessary. In fact a graduate course in Animation Design from an institution like National Institute of Design will help you to make a good beginning. When you join as a trainee, you get to learn more. It's all based on the strength of your drawing and imagination. What you essentially need is talent and a good knowledge of computer based animation packages.
However, these days, with the advent of powerful computers and software such as 3D Studio Max, Alias, etc, nearly all animation work is being done on the computer. What's more, animation is even taught to kids, as they grasp much faster and are more interested in animation as compared to adults.
If you are looking for a professional course in animation, beware of the numerous multimedia academies that offer to teach you animation. Most of them only teach you the bare technical basics and lack qualified, talented faculty. It is wise to ascertain the competence and experience of the faculty in teaching the software packages before signing up at any of those institutes.
You will do well if you have a graduate diploma in Visual Communication Design from National Institute of Design with specialisation in Animation Design/ Bachelor of Design from IIT-Guwahati/ Master of Design from IIT-Mumbai.
"As a fresher, you'll be expected to put in long hours of work for meager Rs 15000 – 18000 per month depending on your talent. However, once you have acquired the skill in using high-end animation software, the salary increases rapidly. It could be anything between Rs 20000 - 30000 a month.
There is good scope for freelancing. Here you could be drawing more than an experienced animator. Working as a professional in a studio or a firm as a freelancers, you can charge anything around Rs 50000 – 60000 or more for a 30 second film (depending on the animation required)."
Interview with an Animator
E. Suresh, Animator
How did you get into the field of animation?
After completing my class XII, I was planning to join IIT for engineering. It just happened that the entrance test for the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad was before that of the IIT Joint Entrance Examination. I appeared for the exam just for the heck of it and actually got thorough. That marked my entry into the field of animation.
Can you tell us more about this course?
I studied Animation Designing at NID. It is a five-year course after 10+2. Besides acquiring the requisite knowledge of various techniques of animation, I was also trained to handle the complete process of animation film making, right from scripting to post-production. In short you have to develop your expertise in a broad range of areas.
How did you land your current job?
I was working as a senior graphics designer with a firm making Multimedia CD-ROMS. My skills and expertise were communicated through the projects I undertook and one fine day I was approached to start my own design studio. That is how this set-up-Famous Animation studio came about.
How was it like to have your set up?
Exciting and challenging to say the least. You must realise that a lot of efforts has gone into making this place what it is today. I used to handle everything from animation to client servicing and even marketing. This is an industry where your work speaks volumes for your abilities. That coupled with good contacts has ensured the steady growth of our firm.
Could you tell us about what goes on in an animation studio?
An animation studio is not just a place where you draw cartoons and make films out of them. In fact a majority of our work is creating commercials and promos for TV channels. We use a variety of animation techniques beyond classical animation such as Clay Animation and even 2-D and 3-D computer animation to get the desired results. We also make use of editing and sound recording facilities.
I have separate teams working on different projects at any given point in time. Each team usually consists of visualisers, who come up with creative concepts and designers or animators who actually convert that idea into the final product. Besides these, there are coordinators who liaison between the team and the client ensuring that the client get what he wants. So you see every project is a team effort, which requires every individual to bring new ideas to the table. That is how we add value to our products.
What's an average day with you?
Meetings, meetings and more meetings. That is the common denominator of my average day. It could be a discussion on a script or storyboard of a commercial or a brainstorming session with a client or just a simple thing as requisition of advanced animation software. As the head honcho, I need to be aware of the on-goings in each department. Mind you, I still am in touch with the animator in me and never loose any opportunity to work hands on.
What does it take to be a good animator?
You must be a person full of energy and enthusiasm. You should have basic knowledge of animation. One must realise that this is a career where you are learn continuously. So you have to be someone eager to learn whether you are 15 or 50. You must be a team player and be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively to others. Everyone in the field of animation is an artist. But everyone here also needs to be a manager. Most importantly unlike fine arts, here you are using your skills to communicate to a specific audience. The end user therefore always has to be kept in mind.
What is the biggest misconception about this industry?
While most animators are good at drawing, with the advent of technology, it is no longer a necessity. What animators need to be is creative and so if you can communicate your ideas on a computer screen as against on paper then that's just as fine.
How is the Indian animation industry vis-à-vis the West?
As far as the technology, skill and expertise are concerned, we are not that far behind from Hollywood. What we lack is the finances to make all of our ideas come to life. Animated films do not have too many takers in India. But definitely the future is bright. In fact I see India becoming a major export house as far as animation is concerned.
What are your other hobbies/interests?
I love watching movies. Not just the animated ones. However with the kind of busy schedule that I keep, it is increasingly becoming difficult to find time.
- Siddhartha Roy