If you have any queries or doubts about Animation as a career choice, here is where to look for answers. If you have further questions, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q 1: What is Animation?
Animation is the art of movement. Animation is a combination of art, aesthetics and skills. The dictionary describes the word Animation as ‘to give life to’.
Q 2: I do not have any creative streak/genes in me. Is animation suitable for me?
Everybody has creative instincts; they just need to be encouraged, nurtured and taught. Agreed that ‘creativity’ is nature’s gift, some are more gifted others, but it is hard to believe that an average individual does not have any creative streak whatsoever. It is more likely that it may not have yet been realized and/or recognized.
Animation is a craft practiced by skilled people, and skills as we know can be acquired.
Q 3: Do I require drawing skills?
It is not compulsory. Animation is not an art of drawing, but an art of movement that has to be drawn. Having drawing skills or an artistic background is extremely helpful but not absolutely required. There is however another school of thought that believes that only those that can express their thought via drawings can become good animators. This thinking stems from the undisputable fact that it’s easier sometimes to draw and show rather than talk and explain!
Q 4: Isn’t animation just for kids?
Animation is not just ‘kids stuff’. Today it is a major industry and a serious career choice for thousands of artists. The global animation industry, which covers TV, games, mobile, films etc. is worth billions in dollars. Animation may be for kids but it is not ‘only by kids’.
This industry is making rapid strides in India with the ever increasing availability of creatively satisfying and lucrative career options.
Q 5: At what age can we start learning?
It is never too late to learn. Arts and Crafts are popular subjects up to std. 6 in our schools and can form a good foundation for expressing creativity. There are resources even for children to learn animation. Organizations such as ToonClub http://www.toonclub.net conduct ongoing programs that initiate young minds into animation. They regularly conduct summer training programs. TASI is actively working to promote continuation of artistic education all the way up to college.
Q 6: Is animation a part of IT or BPO industry?
The animation industry has some good elements of the above as well as a very strong connection with the media industry and the domestic market. Since computers are also used as tools to create animation content –hence in some cases there is a very strong technology and IT component involved. Major Indian studios have been outsourced work for international studios like Disney. At the same time the local industry is booming with mobile games, TV content and movies.
However we must bear in mind that at the core animation is an art form and it is incorrect to compare it to any shop-floor production system.
Q 7: What forms of animation can be pursued in India?
Indian companies are active in 2D animation (Hand drawn or cel animation and Flash), 3D animation, games as well as stop–motion animation such as clay animation. More information on these forms of animation can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animation
Q 8: How can I learn animation?
Firstly we have to distinguish between animation training and animation education. While the former can be acquired in a short period of time, the latter needs a lifetime.
There are several private training institutes such as Frameboxx Animation Visual Effects, Picasso Animation, Animaster, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics, Toonz Webel, Arena Multimedia, The Workstation, ICAAT, ZICA, Art-Labs (Madras), Whistling Woods, Digital Academy and Pumpkin Academy to name a few. Most of these have courses ranging from 3 months to 3 years during which you can pick up the skills needed.
Among universities and colleges there are the National Institute of Design (NID Ahmedabad and Bangalore), Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC –Mumbai), Industrial Design Centre (IDC at IIT Powai, Mumbai).
http://schools.awn.com has a fairly comprehensive list of education programs offered across the world.
Basic principles of art and design can be learnt through most BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degrees at art colleges. Diploma courses in the same are offered by polytechs across the country.
(While TASI promotes animation education and training, it does not specifically endorse any organization / company / curriculum for the same. Readers are expected to form their own opinions regarding the quality of courses and facilities being offered based on some general guidelines provided below)
Q 9: Can’t I just join an animation studio and learn on the job?
The puritans would say ‘No! Please avoid this route for your own sake’ while the Liberals maintain that education / training from all sources is welcome. Many senior and established experts today have had no formal training what-so-ever. However the important thing to remember here is the quality and expertise of the trainer. As they say ‘you are known by the company you keep’. A lot can be learnt from a learned and enthusiastic teacher. The quantum, speed of learning and transfer of knowledge depends on the pupil.
Q 10: What about foreign study?
There are many distinguished institutes around the world which teach animation. Some of them include Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, Sheridan College, Vancouver Film School, Savannah College of Art & Design, California Institute of Arts, Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, Academy of Art San Francisco etc. They have curricula running from one year to three years including degree certificate as well as undergrad courses. While there is a considerable expense incurred in these courses, it may not always be possible to get jobs in the host country due to visa restrictions. However many alumni of these schools are doing very well at Indian studios. Studying abroad is a big decision and you should definitely consider the financial and curriculum aspects before taking the step.
Q 11. What are the most important things to know before joining any animation course?
Some points to remember before joining any course:
1. It is useful to speak to past or present students about actual performance of the institute
2. You can even Google the place to find online opinions regarding the institute
3. You can ask about the placement record with references
4. You should be clear about-
a. The duration of the course
b. The specific items that you will be taught (preferably with a schedule)
c. The total fees including costs of materials, special events, taxes etc
d. The number of classrooms and lab hours
e. The size of the class (total number of students)
f. The qualifications of the resident faculty (quality of faculty may vary across branches)
g. Who and If there is any visiting faculty from the industry?
h. Frequency of such visits
i. Are there any field trips and / or internship programs?
j. Is there guidance towards every aspect of animation filmmaking?
k. Is there exposure provided to all mediums of animation: 2d classical, stop-motion, CG 3D, and experimental animation.
l. Exposure provided to animation / live action films from all over the world
m. Exposure provided to a multi-disciplinary environment
n. Importance given to extra-curricular activities
o. Whether multi-layer thinking is encouraged
p. Does the course encourage writing, scribbling, doodling etc?
q. Exposure provided to History / Politics / Anthropology etc.
Although there are a large variety of courses and academies, remember this is a BIG career decision so you should do your homework by preparing these questions in advance. Doing a comparative analysis of at least 3-5 places is also a good idea. This will ensure that you get what you expect and can reliably plan out your course of study both for time and finances. It is also useful to ask about facilities such as educational loans which some institutions may be able to provide.
Q 12: What are the specializations one can pursue?
Although animation refers to the actual art of movement, the term is broadly used to describe all activities that go into creating an animation and hence we refer to all artists as ‘animators’.
In reality there are several functional areas of specialization, which follow the general flow of filmmaking. Regardless of the medium or dimension (2D/3D), the following specializations can be pursued:
– Pre-production: which refers to the design and preparation aspects of a project where character and art design, script planning, and storyboarding (drawing individual panels of every scene and designing the camera angles and timing) are carried out.
– Modeling: creation of the actual assets to be used in the project, including characters, sets and props.
– Technical Animation: creating the technical aspects of the assets to be used for animation, such as motion rigs and motion libraries.
– Performance Animation: adding motion to the created assets, whether characters which move and talk, or vehicles and spaceships, or objects which have to open/close/move.
– Effects: creation of complex visual phenomena like explosions, smoke, water, fire, rain, etc. through simulations or advanced tools
– Lighting and Rendering: creation of the “set lighting” look in a manner similar to films, and generating the final images through complex software calculations
– Compositing: creation of the final composite image by assembling all the components such as animated character layers, effects layers, background layers and adjustments layers. Color correction and tonal balancing of the entire sequence.
– Editing: aesthetically cutting together desirable bits of footage to create a cohesive flow for the final narrative
– Art direction/ production design: Designing the environment, the mood, and the color palettes of a film.
– Sound design: The art of designing sound for animation films. A lot of specially created sounds are used for effects. A keen ear and sense of timing is essential for this.
– Production Control: A relatively new and emerging area of specialization. Production managers plan, schedule and monitor an entire production. They are the eyes and ears that enable scheduled deliveries to clients and are a very important part of any animation team.
Q 13: I am currently in another field. Is it worth switching over?
Several career options in India are booming. It is often confusing as to which one to choose. The animation industry has a certain charm as it is a creative enterprise and also rapidly growing. It is a skilled labor which cannot be done by just anyone. Salary prospects are superior to BPO and rapidly catching up with the IT industry.
At the same time animation as a profession is meaningless if you cannot feel a real passion for the work and the medium. One has to be prepared to work in a variety of roles and styles. Sometimes the hours can be long since the capacity for improvement is endless. People from other technical or creative backgrounds can be extremely useful when they switch to animation. Good leadership, planning and communication abilities can open up great prospects in management, client servicing and production control as the industry requires such talent in large numbers.
Scientists, hotel management professionals, engineers, architects, commerce graduates, biologists, and even professionals from print media have successfully switched over to animation.
Q 14: How can I get a degree in Animation?
In most countries animation is seen as a trade skill to supplement regular education such as B.A and B.Sc. Hence recognized degree programs are rare. We advise you to research this aspect thoroughly. In India most training institutes have a diploma course and some have recently introduced degree courses too. Naturally you have the option to do a BFA or MFA degree course in a fine arts school or a BE in Computer Science, and then branch out into animation. Architecture also is a preferred subject (in certain institutes) prior to studying animation.
The important point to remember is that unless you are exceptionally gifted, it would be prudent to complete your graduation level studies before taking up this vocation. Many students are tempted to leave their studies and take up a training course. This is not an advisable route.
Q 15: What is the procedure for getting a job in the industry?
The animation industry is somewhat unique since the work is extremely visual in nature. The majority of entry-level hiring is done on the basis of your “demo reel” which is a 1-5 minute film of your best work edited together. If you have drawing or fine-art skills then a traditional art portfolio also goes a very long way in getting the attention of studios. There are many online sites on how to make a good demo reel and individual institutes also guide and help in the preparation of this vital portfolio. Companies advertise for positions or do direct placement from institutes. They also post job openings on online forums like CgTantra.com and CGTalk.com. You can respond to these with your CV and demo reel. Often a personal interview and a 6-8 hour on site test may be required.
Once you get a break in the industry and gather some experience then your network of contacts and word of mouth will always help you to get a head start on job opportunities. Remember: Your portfolio needs to be constantly updated and should not be more than the stipulated duration of 1-3 minutes. Studio head and creative leads are extremely busy people. They very rarely have the time to view demo reels so another important aspect is to keep all the latest stuff first. Remember the mantra of KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
As a student you may also have a chance to create a short film alone or with friends. This is a good way to get recognized since you can submit it in short film festivals around the world or have it be seen at local events like Anifest India, International Animation Day, 24 FPS, and Anigraph etc.
Q 16: What are the current salaries in the animation industry?
As with most industries you have to start at the entry level with a basic skill set and then the salary rises rapidly as does your experience. International studios on an average pay more than domestic ones and the salaries vary by location. Mumbai is currently at the top end of the table. Without a formal salary survey, TASI estimates that a skilled animation director with 6-10 years of experience can earn between INR100,000 – INR300,000 p.m., an entry level artist can draw between INR5000 – INR15,000 p.m. depending on the city and of course the quality of the demo reel. Senior artists and team leads can command between INR 30,000 – INR 75,000 per month.
The industry has a huge crunch for talent which translates into rapid rise in salary. It is not uncommon for your salary to double every 2-3 years. There is also a great flexibility of being able to do freelance work. Talented students can start freelance work even before completing their courses.
It is important to remember that animation is first an art-form and because this art-form became so popular it soon became a profession and then a business. Have fun with the art-form and the business will follow you for sure. The more fun you have, more the business!
Q 17: How is the animation market in India? Is it good enough for me to take the plunge?
Yes. Very good! It opens everyday at 4.30 am when all the fresh ‘produce’ arrives. Most items in the market are very reasonably priced. You can bargain and get very good deals. For festivals there are special discounts.
On a serious note: the market or any industry is as good or bad as the people that are in it. Tomorrow you will be in it. If you are talented, you can help mould the animation industry as you wish. But to excel, it is important to concentrate on and enjoy education, enjoy every project / every assignment and putting in more than 100%.
Q 18: What is TASI? What are the benefits of TASI memberships?
TASI is a volunteer body of animation professionals who believe in constantly exploring new ideas and new experiences in order to improve as artists. It is a neutral organization without any affiliations to studios, corporate bodies or entities. TASI is a registered non-profit organization. TASI members enjoy a range of benefits including a minimum of 10 interactive sessions a year, discounts to major industry events and access to exclusive workshops and mixers. TASI members form a community that promotes exchange of ideas and deeper interaction among the industry. It is open for all to join with no bar on age or profession.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above have been collated through an open invite to practicing professionals with years of experience in the Indian industry. These are mere guidelines and while the Society appreciates the time and efforts put in by these people it does not necessarily endorse all or any of the comments expressed above.
Should you wish to use these FAQ details to further your interests, be kind enough to give TASI credit and help spread awareness about the Society and it’s objectives.