The much anticipated full day workshop on Clay animation in association with Vaibhav Studios was held on Sunday March 22. A house full of enthusiasts got down and dirty with thermocole, aluminum wire, tools and modeling clay to build a range of interesting armatures. Guided actively by the team from Vaibhav Studios ( Vaibhav Kumaresh, Arvind Chudasama, Chandni Chudasama, Vasanth Kumar and Ashwin Nandihalli) participants were encouraged to create structures using their own imagination.
Starting the day with a few films, Vaibhav described the finer points of model making with a short discourse on the do’s and don’ts. He emphasised on the need for proper planning and preparation when starting work on a model. Describing how to use aluminum wire, where to twist, where to join and how to shape the thermocole, the process of creating the supporting wire structure was beautifully explained by him in a simple yet effective manner. The use of adhesives and sealants like ‘fevicol’ and ‘m-seal’ and why they were needed was also demonstrated.
Stressing upon the imporance of drawing out the character and its internal structure on paper before moving on to the physical materials, he explained that not only does it help in visualisation of the finished piece but also brings to the fore, any discrepancies and short comings in design. Very often, there is a gap between what you think and what is achievable. Drawing out the plans helps to bridge that gap.
He explained that getting a ‘tactile’ feel is extremely important and it is essential to get used to the texture of the raw materials. Experimentation and practice were the best teachers in this medium. He recommended reading the book -Cracking Animation- by Aardman Studios to understand the nuances of clay animation techniques used by the Oscar winning studio.
The session was covered using multiple cameras which projected the onstage activity onto a giant screen so that the audience was able to closely follow the model and animation shoot in detail.
Vaibhav then quicky drew a storyboard with 2 characters, one that reacts in anger to the presence of another and throws a ball at him to squish him to oblivion. Assisted by his team, they quickly demonstrated (from scratch) the construction of the two characters, calibration and staging of the shooting camera, the use of soft-boards and the all purpose ‘pins’ to register the actors on their stage. As he was staging and shooting the action, members of the audience were actively finishing their own models. Vaibhav explained the use and art of creating dope-sheets or exposure charts and the shooting process using the free software ‘MONKEY JAM’
The use of the ‘replacement techinque’ was also explained since the character being animated by him spoke the dialogue ‘kameeney tu fir aa gaya?’ (you rascal, you are back again?). Vaibhav showed how they made replaceable lips using ‘FIMO’ a soft modeling clay that hardens on heating. The eight second animation was finally completed and played back to a thunderous applause from all present.
This was followed by an intense Q&A session where Vaibhav and his team answered some very interesting queries from the crowd. After this everyone was requested to hand in their days’ work and all the models were displayed on-stage. Vaibhav then picked out 10 pieces and explained what he liked about them. In a surprise move, TASI decided to award a free annual membership to each of the creators of the 10 selected pieces. Taking it a notch higher, the creator of the best piece was awarded with a free lifetime membership of the Society.
Explaining the spur of the moment move, Ranjit Singh (hon. secretary) said that TASI has always aimed to encourage all mediums of animation irrespective of popularity or trends. A membership is just a small token of encouragement for people to actively pursue their chosen path and to share their experiences with the community. Commenting on the overwhelming response to the workshop, he said that another workshop on the topic is planned for May this year to enable all those who missed this opportunity. He also reiterated that if people wanted such seminars and sessions in their cities or they want to volunteer for Society work, they are more than welcome to contact any Society representative. He thanked the huge number of outstation participants and assured them, that if they could arrange for the basic logistics in their respective areas, TASI would be more than happy to travel to their cities and conduct sessions for them.
At the end of the day, all the extra material and tools were gifted to all those intersted and Vaibhav advised everyone to continue working and aim to bring their completed shots or films with the models they created so that they could be screened at the next TASI session. On a spontaneous request by representatives of Arena Multimedia, a few clay animation films created by their students were also screened. Thanking all the supporters, his team and especially the volunteers from CGTantra, Vaibhav finally brought a hugely interesting and much enjoyed workshop to a close.
The next TASI session is on Animation Production Management & Control and will be conducted by Ranjit Singh (Tony). Explaining the importance and need of such a topic, Vaibhav outilined the benefits they have seen in their studio by simply organising their work processes thanks to some very simple and effective techniques shared with them by Ranjit on their Ooga Booga project. ‘We do not realise it, but we actually waste a lot of productive time doing unproductive activities during the day. In the long run, these are a drain on the finances of an organisation. Anyone interested in reducing expenses and increasing productivity would be well advised to pay attention to effective production management in animation’, explained Ranjit.
This will be a non-techical session and will highlight effective, yet easy to use and extremely low cost methods that can bring about a sense of discipline in everyday work and yet retain the fun in animation. ‘Artists should get time and space to create art, they should not be filling forms and maintaining productivity / progress reports and nor should they be bogged down with the huge data that they generate’.
The session will be useful for artists, students, training faculty and everyone related to animation production irrespective of medium (2d, 3d, clay) and whether you are making commercials, doing job work or making an animation feature. With over 20 years experience in various capacities as an animator, production manager, creative head, director and creative producer, Ranjit brings a wealth of experience and firsthand knowledge to this session.
Watch this space for more details on the session.
TASI Media Desk