"For us, animation is not just a business… we have come to it to create and tell stories" Chetan Sharma Interview with 2d3d Asia

See interview in 2d3dasia.org

2d3d asia reporter, May 14, 2007

What are the main activities of your company ?
We have worked in most genres in animation- commercials, Title design, feature effects, short films, music videos and some television work, however we have never taken up any outsourced TV animation work. We have always created our own animation and strived to create and maintain our own identity.We have always kept the studio a small and manageable size, preferring to grow organically as a family with all our team people in sync with our plans. We have further found that size is really not a key strength in animation unless it is very organized and in a fiercely competitive ad market we have consistently delivered high quality films in schedules which studios 300 strong have not been able to.

What is describing best your work ?
For us, animation is not just a business… we have come to it to create and tell stories and from day one we have maintained a delicate balance, but guarding our independence fiercely. This has enabled us to create our films which have transcended boundaries of the medium itself. There are so many people for whom Raja & I is not just an animation film, it has crystallized for them experiences and feelings they have felt and lived. Hence Animagic has never had over 25 people at one time and most of the team is a multi tasking unit. They work on color concepts, Character design, story, and storyboards, animation and ink’n’paint, compositing… Everybody knows a bit of everything and works as one unit trying to make the film visualized by the directors. Most of the time this arrangement works wonders and at all times is great fun to work with. Only a few people are strictly specialized, these are usually computer graphics oriented people whose main experience has just been the softwares, but eventually they unlearn this one dimensionality and learn more aspects of the art.

“Raju & I has been an authentic peek into life in India for many audiences abroad and they have been overwhelmingly moved by the film”

What softwares do you use for animation ?
The softwares we use are : Animo for the cel animation work. Adobe Photoshop for working on color styling and design and background enhancement ( unless they are completely digitally painted ), Premiere for editing and After effects and combustion for effects… Though we do everything necessary for our commercial work, we are partial towards 2D or drawn animation for our own films. And they contain a fair amount of CGI, but it is usually in the service of the director’s vision.

How do you maintain the balance between ads and short films ?
Our main revenue generating market has been the advertising industry. However we have always resisted getting caught in a manic and vicious cycle and maintained our artistic integrity and vision by keeping our distance. Of course, we enjoy everything we take up but it is all moving in one direction all the time. The short films we made were commissioned by other parties who would have never been able to put together the budget for the films which needed to be made. We kept the commercial activity feeding those films that we believed in and worked in-between projects in all our spare time. The short films have never commanded a market of their own and we have been looking for ways to take these out to the people. There is a huge demand for Raju&I to be available on DVD and it is going to happen soon. Even abroad, Raju& I has been tremendously popular and there have been many requests for such a film to be widely available for audiences around the world… It has been an authentic peek into life in India for many audiences abroad and they have been overwhelmingly moved by the film.Also there is some excitement amongst distributors to even release such a film theatrically but for the length. However, now that we have a couple of films under our belt, these possibilities are opening up again.

What do you think of the evolution of indian animation ?
The main bulk of the animation industry in India is geared towards outsourced work from abroad. They have been trying to follow the example set by Taiwan and Philippines and other southeast Asian countries in the hope of cashing in on the business flowing from the west. This in a country of such culture and heritage is sad. Very few people are making an effort to truly find what is in Indian in their storytelling… Even if they do make a film based on our mythology it is usually filled with clichés blinded copied from the west. And the majority of the young people looking for jobs have no choice but to work in these companies as they offer lucrative pay. But for people creating their own films, it has often been a steep uphill climb.

Is indian market evolving ?
Now that there is greater awareness of animation as a film making medium and not just a cartoon medium for kids, coupled with the emergence of diverse concepts in mainstream cinema, things are looking up… and more people seem keen to invest in animation. There are many projects announced which if realized could well generate tremendous enthusiasm for animation in this country.We have been developing many concepts for feature length treatment over the past ten years and have finally after testing ourselves with Maaaa, greenlit one that promises to be a great film, animated or otherwise! We are very excited! we are also further developing our chief themes on Indian children thru 4 more short films to be made over the next one year. We also know that the market for our films is growing and waiting, and that charges us up even more. So much that we have now refused some very prestigious film-effects work to focus solely on our dream. You will soon get to see these films in France !!

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