"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My EXTENDED Views on "Getting Indian Animation Right. Why is it such an uphill task?"

My previous post about the issues affecting the Indian Animation Industry had some nice and insightful comments and after reading them i thought there were certain issues which i may have overlooked and certain issues which needed more emphasis on. So here is the extension of that post.

Again a disclaimer seems inevitable.

DISCLAIMER - Whatever I am mentioning here is absolutely my view of the issue/subject as I see it. I am not getting paid by anyone to write this and I am not affiliated to any institution/organization. I am not claiming whatever I write is correct as my interpretations of the subject can be as different as many of you reading this. We all see things in our own perception and that perception may be right or wrong depending on who is reading it. Having said that you are more than welcome to comment on my post and let me know whether you agree or disagree and why. Or you can in general present your views on the subject. Views/comments/opinions are very subjective and relative and there is really no right or wrong.

Last time i mentioned about the current animation boom in India and how almost all the institutes are making false promises of a fantastic career in animation and that too by just doing a course of 6-12 months. If indeed it was so easy i am sure all the other professional sectors would have closed down and everyone wanted to be in the Animation sector. Now in other vocations say management related or software related, its indeed true to an extent that if you do hard work in the starting years that is when you are doing your MBA (2 years) B.Tech (4 years) you are reasonably well on the right track once you finish your education. Then its only the matter of refining yourself as you work along because the foundation has been set with the education you have been provided. BUT in creative art forms, this is not the case. Here you can know/learn the tools, but by no means does it imply that once you know the tools what you create will be good. Learning or knowing is not enough you need to understand how and when to use the tools. And this is just the starting. You need to learn the tools, know how and when to use it and in the end the final output you create has to connect with the audiences at all levels. It has to be believable and it has to reach out emotional and sincerely. And this is no easy task by any means.

So if you are one of those who thinks "just because its in demand and it looks easy and since i am not sure what i will be doing in life, lets do animation", then you are better off not even thinking of Animation. Not that you are not good, but you lack the drive and passion which is required to sustain in this profession. You may enter the industry and may even earn a decent salary, thanks to our brilliant HR(more on that later), but to enter is just the easy part. Working everyday long hours, doing justice to your work requires immense dedication and hard work. Its not a field for losers, but requires a lot of study on a daily basis for as long you want to be in this profession. Animation is a serious business and a very serious vocation. Without doubt its a lot of fun and frolic and behind all these lies many many sleepless nights. You may be a loser before joining this career and be a changed person after that, but thats a different subject for discussion altogether.

Imagine, you are not well or some one near and dear to you is not well. Now obviously you will be depressed and not in your normal mood because of the circumstances around you. Forget being cheerful, it will be even difficult to behave normal. Now in all this if a friend calls you and invites you to a party/movie to celebrate some good thing which happened to him, will you feel like going and will you go in the end ? I am sure the answer to both the questions without even thinking twice is NO. You cant go because you are not in that emotional state to go. But when you are working as an Animator, there might be days(many infact) when you have to work on a very happy/sad scene whereas personally you may be feeling totally opposite. Trust me it can very challenging emotionally and creatively and professional to do justice to the work you are doing. And this is just one instance which is sort of usual for animators in their everyday lives. So like i said before behind the fun and play lies total immersion in your work. So think 100 times before choosing Animation provided you want to be in it for a long time.

So now if you see any more ads of those useless training institutes conveying in beautiful colors "Come learn from us and become and animator in 6-12 months", you will know its nothing but false promises and is similar to a politician's speech when he says you give us vote and we shall promise we will give you food, water, electricity and so on. And i need not explain whether they actually fulfill their promises or not. Of course like in the field of politics there are exceptions of few good people really inclined for the betterment of the society but majority are just burdens on their country. Similarly there lies many good training institutes who really know about animation and care about their students future, but even here the majority are nothing but burdens in the name of education.

Now the other issue which i am hearing a lot these days is the attitude of the artists specially newcomers who are just entering or entered the industry. They have been in the industry for less than one year and they act as if they were among the "nine old men" from Disney. Well no matter how good you are, if you have a bad attitude, not easy going, no one will want you to be around. People tend to forget that a lot has been achieved before they were even born. There is just no excuse for having a bad attitude, i don't mind going far and saying that people who have this false air around themselves, as if they are GOD are suffering from a disease much like say CANCER, long term it can get very very dangerous and might even be fatal.

I think to an extent even the recruitment process and the Human Resource department are to be blamed for this bad attitude behavior which is getting rampant day by day. Just to increase their targets, during recruitments, they literally beg in front of a prospective employee, offer them unimaginable amount of salaries, without even analyzing whether he/she actually deserves the kind of importance they are giving to them. And what happens in then end, freshers with no experience get a taste of false prestige in disguise of good salaries. Money is like drugs, in no time it can go to your head if not handled properly. And the result is the "i am the best" kind of attitude. If the person is lucky he/she may realize about this disease but by then it would have been already too late. Unfortunately even some seniors and veterans in this field have this attitude problem. I cant think of a more appropriate quote for this context than -

There are two ways of exerting one's strength;
one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.
-- Booker T. Washington

Majority of the times, we have a tendency to show strength by pushing people down instead of pulling them up. If we are among the few who are blessed with talent, thinking that if we share knowledge our importance will go down, we try to push other people down. Who suffers is the end is the art form and the organization where they work. They purposely maintain the gap so that the management becomes dependent on them and they can bend the rules whenever they want and demand a hike in salary whenever they feel like. All these grey areas which i am sure is applicable to any other any profession as well, but unlike other professions, it affects the animation industry on a more deeper level and that too on a daily basis.

Like some said "charity begins at home". So if you are reading this, all i can request is that let us all have a nice pleasing attitude of helping people, sharing knowledge, being genuinely nice to everyone, dont back stab anyone, don't indulge in office politics, though thats a different topic of discussion all together, but if you cant help getting affected by it, at least don't create or contribute to it. There is enough space for everyone and if we all live and work cordially, coming to work will be so much fun like never before.


Prasad said...

again a great article !...just as you mentioned about HR...from somewhere i learned about this guy who got a job as animator in Paprikas Interactive (associated with Dreamworks )...i have seen some very fantastic Animators getting job there...so curiously i visited his site...and his showreel has every animation copied from AM's reel...i mean come on any body who knows bout AM (probably every animator knows about it ) can recognize it instantly...i really wonder how he must have got that precious job...

...keep discussing such issues...

@b said...

prasad, i am glad that my article was able to connect at some level.

just one correction, paprikaas is not dreamworks, they just have one division which they are associating/collaborating it with dreamworks. so if some one gets a job at paprikaas, it doesn't really means that he works with the dreamworks division.

rakesh said...

very good post...
i am a fresher with 1 year struggling as a fresher. thank god u shared all this.Any other inside views will be welcomed.