The ‘Anima’ World

Dr. John Patrick Ojwando
Published: May 2014

Spanning a century of protracted experimentation and innovation, forays in the animation industry may be an attractive career proposition for those making their way out of school, or professionals seeking newer avenues after putting in years of work and boasts a slew of mouth-watering perks, writes  Dr. John Patrick Ojwando.

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What do we mean when we say, “Careers in Animation?” That seems a complex question. We can attempt the question by giving the dictionary answer –the act, process or result of imparting life, interest, spirit, motion, or activity – but that does not encompass all the shades of discipline, starting with the time consuming rigours of Cels and Paint Animation, to embracing Digital 2-D and 3-D Animations.

The story of Animation, a discipline that derives its name from the Latin word, ‘Anima’ or ‘the art of breathing life to a character’, does. It portends the coming of age of a concept. What today is metamorphosing into a serious career option with endless possibilities and applications is the result of what began merely as a leisure pursuit.

Credit goes to the print media, entertainment, game, advertisement and film industries and advances in technologies that have helped fuel its growth. Animation is concerned with design, drawing and layout apart from the churning of graphically rich multimedia slides or clips. Better said, Animators make objects or character appear life like by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, transparency or manipulate static images to give the illusion of motion. While many of us are familiar with 2-D and 3-D Animation, Puppet Animation, Clay Animation, Sand Animation and Vegetable Animation, amongst others are also forms of Animation.

Animation – Jain University Offerings

• Bachelor of Science in Animation
• Master of Science in Animation
Jain University offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in Animation and Film Making at its campus located in Bangalore, India’s IT hub.

While the three year course, divided into six semesters, gives insights into the nuances of animation and film making, the two year master’s programme delves deeper into the discipline.

Both the courses are designed to train aspirants to meet the needs of the growing industry of animation by shaping and guiding students to understand what counts the most to emerge successful. Students are given training beginning with the basic animation to the more sophisticated 3-D animation and film making through theory and hands on modules.

The strength of Jain University’s teaching and learning rests on its curriculum that has been developed taking into consideration the training needs of its students while making continual improvements to keep abreast with the ever-changing requirements of the industry.
Aside, the students have local internship opportunities in studios or firms to gain hands on exposure. The state-of-the-art facilities at Jain University combined with the highly experienced faculty devoted to their work has helped programmes by Jain University gain an enviable reputation. Both, national as well international students have opted to make Jain University their animation and film making destination of choice.

At Jain University, the eligibility criteria are:

• The minimum qualification required to apply for the B.Sc. in Animation degree course is a pass in the 10+2 examinations from Pre University/ISC/CBSE, or equivalent board. A course recognised equivalent thereto by the University.
• The minimum qualification required to apply for the M.Sc. in Animation degree course is a pass in the degree examination of Jain University, or any other University. A course recognised equivalent thereto by the University.

For further details, contact the Course Adviser,
Mr. Dinesh Damodaran, Mob: +91 98862 19893

In the making of movies, games or cartoons, computers graphics or photographing a series of drawn images aid Animators in the movement of drawings, models or people. Blockbuster movies such as Mickey Mouse, Kung Fu Panda, H, Up, Bolt, Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age, amongst others, are classic examples of the miracle that is animation. This piece is an introduction to the fascinating world of Animation – the career options and its erudite pursuit.

Animation –Training, Qualifications and Eligibility

A formal educational foray presents the best route to a rewarding and remunerative career in animation. However, the creative enterprise, the ability to design, draw, sketch and tell a story could be the difference between success and failure in this fascinating field. A period spanning three years to five is often considered adequate to help an aspirant get going, although, the importance of practice on related software on a regular basis cannot be ignored.

Animation – Typical Career Forays

Animators work in environments such as animation production studios, film and video production facilities, gaming companies, cartoon networks, advertising agencies, web design firms, graphic design firms and mobile technology companies, to name a few. Some of the professional skills the industry craves include:

  • In-between Animators – This is the beginning position in the industry where aspirants get insights into animation as a vocation.
  • Modelers – If you have a solid and well -founded understanding of form, volume and anatomy, this could be the opening for you. Modelers, as the name suggests, work on different models for animation.
  • Background Artists – This job involves painting the background of the characters.
  • Layout Artists – Akin to Cinematography, layout professionals choose lighting and camera angles and sketch out the background design.
  • Story Board Artists – Animation starts with developing of an idea to a story. Those who are skilled in sketching or drawing can be offered tasks that require visualising successive events that stem from one animation frame to another.
  • Clean- up Artists – In tracing the rough drawings, accuracy and consistency of a design, Clean –up Artists assist Animators.
  • Scanner Operators – The task of Scanner Operators revolve around cleaning up the drawings done by artists in animation assignments.
  • Compositors– The job of a Compositing Artist comprise layering of individual frames of different characters and backgrounds into one frame to create or complete shots in animated movies.
  • Character Animators –Backed with the knowledge of traditional animation and stop-motion animation, Character Animators ‘breathe life’ into animation.
  • Special Effect Artists – These professionals merge live-action footage with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) or any other elements.
  • Digital Ink and Paint Artists – The duty of these professionals is ‘to add colour’ to each frame.
  • Key Frame Animators – The primary role of these professionals is to draw the pictures of a movement from its genesis to the end.
  • Lighting Artists – Create variations of shade, colour intensity and shadows.
  • Image Editors – Bringing together the various audio-visual components of an animation film is the Image Editors.
  • Rendering Artists – These professionals combine models, textures, animation, lighting and to produce the correct blend in the form of individual frames of animation.
  • Texture Artists – These professionals can skillfully construct a surface to 3-D modelled character(s), object(s) or the environment.
  • Rigging Artists – These professionals take modelled, textured 3-D character or objects and sets it up with a skeletal system or joints, if required. This step helps the 3-D characters to talk or move fluidly in the correct way.
  • 2-D Animators – The work of 2-D animators is pegged on creating high volumes of separate drawings that define an animated sequence.
  • 3-D Animators – These professionals take sculpted, textured and rigged 3-D models and put life into them. The job involves putting in order the key frames in such a way that they appear to be life-like and in motion.

Animation – The requisite skill sets

Talking of intangible attributes and inherent skills, the following if evident or nurtured will hold you in good stead:

  • Oodles of creativity, passion and clout of imaginative skills;
  • Artistic bent of mind;
  • Good visual eye;
  • Flair for storytelling;
  • An understanding of motions, size, ratios and perspective;
  • Penchant for technology, good sense of timing and composition;
  • Attitude, patience, discipline and dedication to work.

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Portfolio and Demo Reel

The key products of years spent studying or working is a portfolio and demo reel. These showcase assignments or works completed. A typical portfolio should show all or some of the following:

  1. Creative computer skills.
  2. Sample of recent work related to coursework, if any (include different samples and not only the best samples because the interest is often in the process rather than the end product).
  3. Personal ideas and image generation work in sketchbooks, if any. This is in addition to the work that you may have had to create for Animation.
  4. Samples of work that exhibit skills.

Animation – Pay Packages

The remunerations in the field of animation vary from studio to studio, firm to firm, and from assignment to assignment. As a beginner, your expectations can be pegged a tad lower. As you venture out of animation school, you will obviously start off at the entry-level position saddled with repetitive tasks that may at times not hold much appeal to you. Sooner or later, as a professional, you will gain a foothold in the industry, handle complex assignments, and if you churn out excellent results, a 6 figure salary with a litany of perks and incentives cannot be ruled out. More than the pay, the experience you gain over the years, the thrill of being involved in what interests you, and being a ‘cog in the wheel’ of a machine that churns out eye-catching animations, can also prepare the grounds to go it alone, as a self-employed animation professional.