All this is good news for students in Calcutta as animation is an area where the City of Joy is matching steps with the best. The latest offering ' a 3D animation course ' comes from the Ready to Go Animate Academy (RTG Animate). The course starts with basic hand-drawing techniques and advances to their applications with the aid of computer-generated (CG) models and cameras. Students will be creating their own projects, from start to finish.
RTG Animate has imported some of the world's best animators to design its courses. Leading the team is Vincent Edwards, former director of Sony Pictures and a renowned animator. Veterans from Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are slated to join him later this year.
Edwards conducted a research to find out what the best animation schools in the USA taught. 'What he found is that they taught art, not just software,' says Arjun Jindal, managing partner of RTG Animate, adding, 'animation was being taught with a holistic approach. The fundamentals of hand-drawn animation were a prerequisite to all further courses of study. We are trying to replicate this in our courses. '
The initial emphasis at RTG Animate is on the basics ' drawing and storytelling. The institute is offering two courses ' a one-year graduate diploma with an option for students to join an advanced animation programme in the second year. The former equips a student with the skills for traditional and CG animation. It stresses hands-on learning so that students can make their own films.
The programme also includes traditional animation fundamentals, film studies and criticism, the three-act film structure and basic story structure. Taking off from basic drawing and animation techniques, it moves on to digital media in which students would learn to manipulate scanned drawings using the Photoshop software. There will be a storyboarding and visual development component that will teach them to create characters and use them to tell stories.
Training in Digital Media Flash, Digital Ink and Paint and basic camera for traditional animation will also be components of the course. 'The goal of the first module is to create short animation sequences. Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of story structure, character, set design and shot composition along with digital ink and camera,' explains Edwards.
In the advanced animation programme, students will work in teams with a project assigned to each team. In the first and second quarters, they can choose a major course of study ' the options being visual FX, character animation, broadcast graphics and game development. In the second quarter, each team will work as a production simulation unit with each student taking responsibility for the area most suited to his/her skills.
Even though the course is open to all, Edwards says he would prefer to work with freshers. 'Indian courses are technical rather than artistic which is why students will be better off starting on a clean slate,' he says.
Another institute with specialised modules in animation studies is the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC). Launched in the city last year by director Ketan Mehta, MAAC offers a range of courses and has 20 centres across India. 'Our students will emerge as complete animators. From editing to camera angles, they will be aware of everything,' says senior director Kamal Kapoor.
Roopkala Kendro, set up by the Government of India in collaboration with the Italian government, offers another high-end course in the city. Thanks to the collaboration, Roopkala has a wide range of sophisticated equipment that makes its courses the most advanced in the region. It offers a two-year postgraduate diploma in animation, creation and direction that aims to marry western and oriental techniques.
The courses offered by Toonz-Webel Academy, Calcutta, are also sought after. It offers a one-year diploma in 2D and 3D animation besides a six-month course.
But will these help you become a complete animator' 'They will, if you can do a bit of everything,' says painter and animation filmmaker Suddhasattwa Basu. 'You have to be versatile. Some knowledge of literature and filmmaking is essential. But, you must be a fine illustrator for that's what it's about,' opines Basu.