While you are reading this paper you are looking at the pictures and cartoons which are two dimensional- that means they only have height and breadth but no depth. But when you watch cartoon strips on the television or see moving pictures on your computer screen, they are often 3-D and whats more - they move!
Animated movies like The Lion King , Jungle Book, Spiderman, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo have enthralled audiences the world over. Even the Harry Potter movies and Lord of the Rings and Jajantram Mamantram were movies which used special effects and animations. These days very many films use animation along with real people in the movies.
Animated films are ones in which individual drawings, paintings or illustrations are photographed frame by frame and then strung together and projected at high speed so that they appear to be happening in one continuous movement. The sequence of images is fast enough for the brain and the eye to blend the images to produce the effect of motion. Earliest cinema animation used to be composed of hand drawn images which when combined with movement made the illustrators two dimensional image come alive.
Although animation began as early as the first decade of the 20th century, it was Walt Disney who really took animation to greater heights with sound and motion picture films. He was the first animator to add sound to his movie cartoons with the premiere of Steamboat Willie in 1928. In 1937, he produced the first full length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Today the making of an animation film is much more complicated. In fact in some aspects more so than a normal feature film. Producing an animated feature film or television programme is a laborious process which involves writing the script, recording voices, editing the soundtrack, creating a storyboard, creating the animation and the colour, then more editing and adding sounds effects. Typically, a half hour T.V. programme is actually the result of a few months of planning, reels and reels of footage and maybe 30,000 or more separate frames. But the end result is always astonishing.
Web animation is another facet of the animation industry. If you are familiar with the internet you will no doubt know what this means. Almost every web page is made lively with flash and shockwave animation graphics. On the web, illustrations are made in the form of bitmap files - that is - a bitmap file describes the colour of each pixel. The web will host these images as JPEG or GIF files. However, as time went on, web animation too underwent improvements and today we use java applets, Dreamweaver, Maya and such sophisticated evolutions which have made web animation truly refined and stylish.
By all accounts, the animation industry is in its infancy and it has great potential of growing into one of the largest chunks in the entertainment industry. There are already many players in the market for web and cinema and television animation. Many institutes, both government and private are opening up to offer students courses in graphic design and animation technology.
Shilpa Ranade, who is Assistant Professor at the Industrial Design Centre at IIT Powai and teaches Visual Communications stresses that animation in India is a career which is escalating very fast indeed. The scope for a student who is artistically inclined and loves technology at the same time, is immense.
Shilpa Ranades husband, Soumitra Ranade, an independent film maker, is also of the same opinion. A graduate of FTII ( Film and Television Institute of Pune) Soumitra was the maker of the childrens film, Jajantram Mamantram . He says that people like him in the animation industry are always looking out for qualified persons. Animation artists and graphic designers are well sought after and many projects are being outsourced to India these days.
For those interested in pursuing animation as a career, he is required to do a post graduation in Applied Art, Fine Art or Architecture. Then he/she may apply to various institutes like IIT and other private ones which offer courses in graphics and animation. A candidate has to apply for a Common Entrance Exam for Design ( CEED) and based on his CEED score and an interview , he can be inducted into IIT. There are 20 seats at present . It is taught at IIT Powaii, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur and Chennai.
`Tenali Raman` and `Chhota Birbal` were among the very few solely Indian animated films which have been made here, but we get to see more and more animation all the time on television and no web page looks attractive without animated graphics. Today almost everything is virtual and visual graphics is extensively used in many areas including medicine, architecture, interior design, and e -learning courses.
Countries like China and Japan have actually incorporated Visual arts as part of their curriculum in schools to help children understand and appreciate this vast medium from an early age. Says, Shilpa Ranade who conducts short workshops for children on graphics and animation , " The kids here are very smart and innovative. They came up with highly imaginative and creative ideas". Given the right training animation in India can go a long long way.