by October 3, 2008 0 comments



If you have been awed by the extreme graphics effects shown in movies or
games and yearn to be part of this creative industry, then you will be pleased
to know that there are plenty of opportunities available. However, a career in
field of animation or gaming requires plenty of creativity and imagination
prowess, and the knowledge of latest computer animation or gaming technologies.

Be it Godzilla rampaging through the streets of New York, or aliens invading
our planet, Spiderman swinging from one skyscraper to another, or a kid Hanuman
fighting demons; we have all watched these scenes from movies and experienced
the excitement that they are able to create. It just shows how human imagination
spiced with technology can result in such fantastic and exhilarating experiences
to a viewer. Such is the endearing world of animation and computer graphics that
brings lifeless images to life through different tools and technologies. In this
animated world the creativity makes the impossible become possible. It’s not
only special effects or animated movies, animation and computer graphics (CG)
have found their place in the field of advertising, television, media, and other
industry verticals such as medicine, education etc. In the global entertainment
industry, animation and CG is gaining unprecedented attention.

India’s media and entertainment market is one of the world’s largest in terms
of the total number of films produced in a year. And the industry is growing 20%
annually and generating USD 10 billion of revenue. The movies are becoming more
technology-centric and production houses are allocating separate budgets for
animation and visual effects (VFX) in movies. This year’s epic movie,
Jodha-Akbar, had a lot of VFX and even Love Story 2050 had more than 1200 scenes
with special effects. Mainstream animation movies too have never been made in
such numbers before as is the case now. Animation has made inroads into new
bastions, the biggest of them being, Gaming. The upcoming gaming industry and
the pace at which the Indian entertainment industry is moving forward, has
opened new opportunities for creative people to choose from. One of them is
Multimedia, which is a way of conveying a message by combining text, animation,
graphics, sound, video and interactivity. The domains of animation, multimedia
and gaming, not just require creativity in an individual, but also technical
skills. So, apart from good story-telling or sketching skills, having the
fundamental knowledge of science, mainly geometry and physics only helps an
individual to become an expert. Thus, if you add the latest animation or gaming
knowledge to your creativity and imagination prowess, there is no dearth of job
opportunities for you.

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Opportunities to explore
Like any other upcoming technology, Animation and Visual Effects are growing
from infancy to a new level of maturity in India. With work from various
industries being outsourced to India, Entertainment related jobs have also
started to be outsourced to India. Indian cinema houses have also started to
incorporate animation and special effects more in movies. This trend has not
only created new job opportunities for fresh graduates in Computer Graphics, but
also created a sense of healthy competition amongst various production houses to
deliver better quality of images.

Indian animation industry is
suffering from challenges like shortage of well-trained professionals,
high-cost technology as animation as a career is not as ‘lucrative’ as it
seems. It


Ram Mohan,
Chairman, Graphiti Multimedia

 demands artistic people with creative backgrounds; however, it
takes two to three years to make an impact. Moreover, Indian animation
industry is a service industry and not a content creation industry. We have
to outsource the original content. So, we look for highly-experienced
writers, visualizers and designers, and nurture them

Entertainment Industry: The aptitude and skill sets required for
various profiles in the Entertainment industry vary with the specific tasks.
There are creative jobs in the Pre-Production phase suitable for professionals
with mastery in sketching and conceptualization. Then there are specialist
profiles in CG Animation & Visual Effects production like Modelers, Animators,
Texturing Artists, Lighting Artists, each demanding their own level of
expertise. Then there are Post-Production Artists, Editors, and Sound Engineers,
etc. who work to give final touches to make visuals more stunning. With suitable
experience one can then move into Pipeline Management and Rendering areas for a
production studio. The skill set required in the animation and VFX studio would
be the knowledge of software like Maya and 3D-Max. Most of the animation work is
done on Maya. So, having a good experience on this platform helps to bag
opportunities quickly. And although creative prowess is always preferred, the
knowledge of software to render the imagination is always a plus. And even
though Indian entertainment industry has many opportunities with attractive
packages, the lure of working for Hollywood studios is always there. For
Hollywood studios like Pixar, Dreamworks and the like, it’s the creativity that
is evaluated in an individual before they are trained on individual software.




Gaming Industry: As per a research done by Zinnov Management
Consulting, Bangalore, the online gaming market in India is slated to reach USD
9 million and is expected to grow at about 90% to reach USD 809 million by 2015.
This also includes mobile gaming. This has opened opportunities for Flash and
Java developers to build games for online and mobile platforms. The gaming
industry too has requirement for animators who design graphics and then there
are jobs available for those who are into game design. Game design, contrary to
the name, isn’t about graphics design. Game designers are professionals who
create a game’s concept and its game play to make it more interesting and
intriguing. The game design team would incorporate developers who would totally
work on the game play using gaming engines like Quake or Unreal to program the
games.

Other than the Entertainment and Gaming industry, Animation and Visual
Effects have found their way into technical areas like automobile and aerospace
engineering, civil, pharmaceutical, medicine and architecture. For instance, in
the Medical & Engineering fields, the need of the hour is to create
ultra-realistic pre-visualizations, which are not only dimensionally correct,
but also give a clear indication of how the final product shall look upon
completion. Here computer graphics experts and animators can help in by modeling
the concept.

Tech skills required
The whole process of animation is partly art and partly science. The art
part being the skill to sketch and the ability to conceptualize the idea and
present it in a visual form. The real prerequisite for being an animator is an
almost intuitive grasp of the fundamental principles of animation and the
ability to tell a story and draw an emotional response from a viewer through
animation. While the science is mostly about understanding geometrical aspects
and the physics behind motion, light and gravity, the field also requires
understanding of a variety of technologies and tools that help achieve the ends
of the animation process. It’s not just a creative domain, but a very technical
area. Let’s look at some of the key areas in the animation and VFX process and
the knowledge required.


The gaming industry is rapidly growing that is
as important culturally, socially and economically as music and films


lan Livingstone, Creative Director, Editor
(creators of  Lara croft)

What are the prerequisites to start a career in this industry?
The gaming industry is a rapidly growing entertainment industry that is as
important culturally, socially and economically as music and films. In the
UK, over half the population plays games: males and females, young and old.
The opportunities to join the industry are immense and there are many entry
points. The most important roles will be filled by computer scientists,
mathematicians, designers, artists and animators and project managers. The
skills required are determined by the scope of the game and the platform it
will run on. Obviously, games written in Flash are quick and easy to
produce. Games written for PS3 and Xbox360 require teams of about 100
specialists taking two years to produce a game, at a cost running into
millions of dollars.

What are the basic skills that aspiring animation professionals should
have?

The ability to use a software package like Maya is a great asset. Other
skills include the ability to build virtual 3D Wire frame models, create
polygons and textures, hand animation or use motion capture facilities.

What effect has the explosion of video games had on the animation
industry?

The expanding video games market offers opportunities to the animation
industry and must not be regarded as a threat. Video games require
incredible amounts of art and animation that offer new opportunities for
co-operation. However, mistakes can be made when animation studios suddenly
think that they can develop games themselves. Warning: making consoles games
is not easy! Whilst both animation and games involves the moving image,
moving from creating a linear experience where the director creates a
non-linear visual story to making a game where the player controls the
action in real time is totally different and requires different skill sets.
Gameplay is the most important aspect of the game and creating it is not a
science, it’s an art.

Modeling, Shading and Lighting: A modeler in games or movies needs to
create the wireframe representation of 3D objects. For that, he needs to have
the knowledge of polygonal modeling techniques. While producing effects like
shimmering fish skin is the work of a Shader artist who writes algorithms based
on a mathematical code and needs to have programming skills in C, C++, Perl or
Python etc, a Lighting analyst should have an understanding of how lights
interact with surfaces and the creation of shadows in 3D. All this designing is
done using softwares like Maya or 3D Max.


Professionals in this
industry can start with Ad industry, moving up to Bollywood films and
eventually on international platforms


Rajendra Bhatt, GM Marketing, Academy of
Animation and Gaming

What kind of job roles are available for animation and multimedia
professionals?
Animation and multimedia professionals have a variety of lucrative
career paths to choose from. Individual career paths depend on their own
abilities and aptitudes. They can be texture artists, 3d modellers, riggers
or animators. At the top of the hill are jobs such as, Creative Director,
Animation Director, VFX Director, Lighting, Modeling and Rigging artists,
Production Head, etc. It’s hard to predict in the beginning what the
eventual career path will be. This industry is highly technical, and the
scope for specialization is huge. On the whole, a degree certificate carries
a lot more weight and seriousness in the job market.

Gaming has gained a lot of popularity in India, and India of late has
become a hub for game development. Where is this trend headed for in future?
What opportunities are there for developers in this arena?
Games are immersive realities. You can escape your worldly worries in
the bytes of a computer game. Gaming jobs are just beginning to appear in
India and developers, designers and testers are very highly paid positions.
It’s a very cool career compared to others.

What areas of Multimedia and Gaming will see more demand for
professionals in the next few years?

The entertainment industry is booming in terms of visual effects and medical
animation is a hot area of development. Intellectual Property Rights,
digital content distribution, product design, and even architectural
simulation are all new areas of development. Creative professionals in this
industry can start with the Ad industry, moving up to Bollywood films and
eventually on international platforms such as Hollywood films. For example,
did you know that a lot of animation in some of the biggest Hollywood movies
was done in India? These include names such as The Lord of the Rings, Narnia
and The Lion King.

Pipeline: A Pipeline is the complete lifecycle of the animation
process, from the concept to the final outcome. A pipeline manager should have a
keen knowledge of the entire process and should be able to incorporate changes
and repair problems on the fly without having to stop the process.

Rendering: Rendering is a technical director’s domain. This process
takes all the elements of a 3D scene-geometry, textures, lights, animation, and
backgrounds-and renders them into a single image or series of animated images
called a shot. Rendering is usually done with advanced rendering systems that
work in conjunction with the 3D animation software, typically Mental Image’s
Mental Ray, or Pixar’s RenderMan.


We interviewed Naveen Gupta
— CEO, Frameboxx Animation & Visual Effects about trends & technologies that
are shaping the future of multimedia. Excerpts from the interview.


Naveen Gupta,
CEO, Frameboxx Animation & Visual Effects

What technologies are behind the special effects and animation we see
in movies? Can you also talk on the latest trends and technologies that are
coming and shaping up the future of multimedia?

Special Effects & Animation that we see in movies boasts of the latest
technology in all domains, be it Hardware, Software, Networking, Data
Recording or Skilled Artist resources. Movie production sees the use of
latest camera equipment capable of recording to image sizes more than double
the size of HD video. Handling such data requires high-speed transfers, huge
disc spaces and high-end graphics machines. This calls for special software
capable of handling such footage.

Technology is the key to the growth of animation and at the same time, it
is the artist who actually uses the technology to achieve out-of- world
graphics. He has to combine Computer Generated Imagery & other elements to
do justice to that particular shot.

The animation industry has also seen a greater use of Motion Capture
equipment to capture life-like motions directly from trained actors to the
computer, and integrate it in CG.

Talking of upcoming trends, 4D entertainment is not a far-off dream. With
the advent of stereoscopic display systems, soon there will be Sport Shows,
TV serials and Live Performances in your living room. With technological
advancements to support this, the Animation and Effects industry will be
further pushed to a new level.

Mobile games, console and PC based games; all are gaining momentum in
India. What kind of skill-sets should a game developer have for venturing in
this domain?

The game development professional can be broadly categorized into the super
creative pool and the highly trained technical crew. The two groups form the
same team but have varied skill sets.

The Gaming industry requires artists good at sketching &
conceptualization to develop creative concepts, game characters & elements.
They also require specialists who focus on one particular process, for
example asset creation, animation or visual effects. The youth are the key
factor behind the games. The majority of developers belong to the under-30
age group. Artists who wish to enter the game development domain must be
energetic and passionate about games. First learn about the Gaming Industry,
and then try and sharpen technical skills of your choice. The technical crew
on the other hand consists of developers, programmers, network specialists,
software analysts & testing professionals. These are primarily IT & software
related profiles, working in close quarters with their creative
counterparts.
 

The core of any production studio is the Rendering department. Sstudios have
dedicated render farms compromising of hundreds of servers which act together to
do the task of rendering. Bigger studios have their own render farms, while
smaller studios depend upon dedicated Remote Rendering service providers.
DuxSoft is one such remote rendering service provider in India where not only
studios but also freelance animators can submit their work for rendering tasks
to obtain the final outcome of their work.

Courses and Certifications
There are graduate as well as post-graduate level courses for animation and
multimedia available from institutes like National Institute of Design,
Ahmedabad and Image College of Arts, Animation & Technology, Chennai to name a
few. These courses provide the individual with skills related to all aspects of
the animation domain as well as an opportunity to hone up their creative and
imagination skills, and also to improve their story telling ability.

There are private institutes too, like Frameboxx and Academy of Animation and
Gaming, which provide professional training on 3D animation software and also on
various game development platforms for enthusiasts along with regular education.

Final words
Animation and gaming is for those who want to put their creative mind and
imagination to work. Acquiring the skills of visual storytelling and
conceptualizing ideas would only help in perfecting your talent. Specialize in a
core talent, be it graphics designing, shader writing, game conceptualization,
etc and gain experience in the field to help you learn all aspects. And with the
technology evolving rapidly, keep yourself updated with the latest in computer
graphics and animation. The field is all about being creative and with
experience one can expect to have a great career ahead.

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