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The animation industry in India has come a long way and has a long way to go. Renowned animation filmmaker, Suresh Eriyat, gives us the ground reality of the industry today, and where the future lies. In the process, he also teaches us a few things that make the animation world go round.

The Indian Animation Legend, E Suresh, has been a pioneer in storytelling and animation through films. He currently heads his animation studio Studio Eeksaurus. He was the first to launch clay animation commercials in India. A few feathers in his cap include creating Amaron battery advertisements, music video Bindu re Bindu, the Simpu series for Channel V, MTV Poga series, Johnny Bravo goes to Bollywood, Levis Slim vs. Slim, and so many more.

His short films, Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk, and Tokri, both won National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Animation Film, apart from winning almost 60 national and International awards at various festivals with over 150 official selections globally.

CG. Where does animation stand today in India? Is there a gap in the understanding of what the animation industry encompasses?

Suresh. There are several gaps in the way animation is understood in India. Internationally ‘animation filmmaker’ and an ‘animator’ are similar. There the animator is synonymous to a filmmaker who uses animation to make his/her films bringing in a holistic process to the film making. In India that is not necessarily the case. Firstly, the animation is associated with cartoons in India. Beyond that, it is widely believed to simply be a technique. And this is used in the Indian animation industry mainly to provide a service, as a BPO format. Unfortunately here animation is seen as a skill set equivalent to learning software or a tool, and not as a conceptual ability of a person creating ideas to tell a story. It is not seen as the overall process.

Another misconception is that animation films don’t require direction/a director. These are all misnomers because it is not yet a popular medium here. The way it is taught or talked about by some of the academies in India, also adds to the confusion and misleading terms.

CG. What do you think it would take to change this perception in India?

Suresh. It would take more exposure to see these films, and gathering a better understanding of what animation is, for this change to occur. This will eventually lead to recognition for animation and its various forms. The evolution needs to happen where people become more aware of animation.

 

In the West, people have been with animation for many decades now, so they understand all that it encompasses. They understand that it is a tool to tell powerful stories. In India, the animation is still young. I am sure in another 10 years we will be where all these countries are in terms of understanding of the medium.

CG. When you are making your films, what sort of target audience are you looking at?

Suresh. I make both short films and advertising films. Both have different agendas. Advertisement films have a definite purpose, either to spread awareness about a brand or convey a message. In both cases, a behavioral change is desired. The brief and objective are very clear and the process involves a lot of research. We go by the design process where there is a defined problem, a defined target audience, and a very clear message to convey. The advertising films have a wider reach in that sense.

My short films, on the other hand, aren’t targeted to a market audience. Instead, they are targeted to a crowd who are artistically inclined and who appreciate the process. The films also target the festival audience, so that they see what India is capable of creating. It is important for Indians to not just be perceived as a service but also as great storytellers.

CG. Where does India stand on the global platform in the animation industry and film making?

Suresh. At the moment, we are not considered capable. Nobody thinks India will make good content. Right now, there are only a handful of companies that are known to create content in India. But the majority lot of animation professionals is complacent about creating something original. We need to tell more stories and make more films to be put on the map.

CG. In your work, how extensively do you use the design process?

Suresh. We often use the design process in the craft of film making. Through this process, we arrive at the most appropriate form and direction to convey the story in the best way possible. Different production houses are bracketed for making a certain type of content. It took us some time to establish ourselves without being labeled in that manner, and instead to be perceived as a design-driven production house.

We are known to work with any medium in order to make the idea stronger. I have directed and produced close to 500 films now, and I don’t consciously try to come up with a new medium, but somehow that has always happened. Each of my films has a unique look and feel to them. This is mainly the result of the design process that we use to strengthen the idea we want to convey.

CG. Creative professionals often begin to make the same kind of work, and then get stuck to that style. How did you escape that?

Suresh. While making films we first look at the story and then the form. We never begin by deciding the form. Many people tend to decide the form first thus stick to it. Sometimes clients go to them because they are known for a particular narrative style or a form that they specialize in.

Creating work with similar form is understandable because of our influences. We see things around us and try to include them in our work. But this is exactly why the design process is important. It diminishes the tendency of aping something or following a trend.

 

Our attempt has always been to push the form further than the predictable and strive to make it more cutting edge and niche.

CG. What makes a good story? What is good storytelling?

Suresh. No story is good or bad. It depends on how memorable a story is. And this depends on how engaging and captivating the audience is by it. And all this comes down to how the story is told. Majority stories have a similar pattern, the intro, the middle, the climax, the end, etc., but how you manage to tell the story in a captivating way is what counts. For example, the story of Ramayan and Mahabharat has essentially been the same. But the style of narration has changed with time. Every story can be told in many ways. Narrating it in a way relevant to the context is important.

CG. What is the importance of humour in storytelling?

Suresh. While narrating a story, the audience needs to feel good about it, and humour is a sure shot way to do that. It lightens up the mood and adds a twist to look at reality. Laughter is definitely a great ingredient.

CG. An example of great use of humour is the awareness campaign for Mumbai women that you had created. Can you tell us a little more about that, and how humour worked there?

Suresh. The Mumbai police claimed that in Mumbai, anywhere a woman is in distress, all she needs to do is call the hotline, and the police will reach her in within minutes. This was something they were proud of, but when I checked around, no one knew the number. So I decided to create a campaign to create awareness.

We did not want to go by the obvious approach of showing women morose or stressed ‘victims’, because that does not work at all. Through the communication we wanted women to feel empowered and get the courage to face the world. We wanted them to imagine the hotline was their weapon.

 

The beauty of this campaign is that the way it was executed, still makes it relevant. The form has a cartoon look, but artistic styling sets it apart.

CG. Many youngsters look forward to a career in animation. But Indian parents are very concerned about how lucrative this industry is. How would you respond to that?

Suresh. The animation is unlike mainstream fields like medicine, today in India. Instead, it leans towards art and culture, and these are essential elements of the fabric of society.

 

Another thing is, if you empower a student with animation, you are making him independent because animation films can be made single-handedly. It is like writing a novel. Just by investing time in it, sharpening your skills and exploring different mediums, a career can be made out of it.

If you are good at it, work will always come your way; because we are living in a time where the demand for entertainment is going to grow. Earlier the platforms were limited, but now there are so many non-linear avenues for accessing entertainment like Netflix and Prime. There is a lot of content that needs to be made available, because not it is turning into a library of content. In that sense, there will never be a dearth of work.

 

Apart from this, there are so many other emerging sectors connected with animation like the education sector, AR and VR experiential environments, simulations, etc. There is a tremendous scope and I don’t see parents regretting this in the future.

CG. Tell us why you see specialization as a danger today.

Suresh. Nowadays the younger generations are too focused on a specialization. It is necessary to know peripheral aspects that could influence art or the specific subject one is into. When you are thinking of a story or making a film it requires a certain sensibility towards what is going on politically, socially, and environmentally what is happening in the country and outside. Youngsters today find this irrelevant. They focus so much on their specialization that the ideas they give are no more holistic. When you are a specialist, the danger is not being aware of the bottom line issues.

There is always a contradiction between generalization and specialization. The organic path would be specialization after generalization. I am talking purely technically, but in life also, if you have a wider opinion on things, you have a much better view on a specific topic.

Issue 46

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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All of us watch online videos every day on our computers, smartphones and even on smart TVs. There is a surge in the rate at which video viewing is gaining momentum. Today, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and above 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. And that’s just for YouTube!

Here, Jaseem Thayal Shareef, the CEO of WowMakers Digital Media Studio explains the benefits of having an explainer video on your website.

As per Cisco trends analysis, the video is projected to take up 79% of all internet traffic by 2018 and companies should leverage the benefits of this online video boom as it is not going to slow down anytime soon.

In tune with this trend, using animated explainer videos has become an effective online marketing strategy. More and more companies (both big brands and small companies) are innovatively using videos to their advantage. Explainer videos became popular in the last few years mainly because of its affordability and effectiveness in enhancing your business. Though explainer videos bring a whole range of benefits but here are the top 10 benefits of using it.

01 Clearly Conveys Objective

Using text to convey the product objective is a little tricky as it can be interpreted in many different ways. Explainer videos minimize the guess works and clearly explain the usefulness and basic function of a product or service.

02 Generates Interest in Consumers

More and more businesses are using visuals options such as images and videos to generate interest in their product as it is found to be very effective.

03 Intensifies Conversion Rates

According to Video Rascal study, over 80% of consumers prefer to buy a product if it is accompanied by videos.

04 Improves Ranking on Google

Websites with endless pages of block text and images are normally ranked lower in Google search. According to the Spork Marketing study, websites with videos rank much higher in Google’s global searches.

05 Increases Web Traffic

Going “viral” is a term that is closely connected to YouTube. Though there are no predefined ways to make a video “viral”, but many products have gained greater visibility through viral videos.

06 Helps Recall Information

More than voice or text, people remember what they see in a visual format. The average person remembers only around 10% of what they hear or read, but they remember 50% of what they see as per the Wharton Research Center study.

07 Brings Engagement

A multipage PowerPoint slide or a brochure with detailed text and pie charts are not effective enough to engage the audience. On the other hand, a well-produced explainer video with an interesting script and impressive visuals engages the audience in a better way.

08 Grabs Attention

When traditional web content and all those cool ideas are shown in an impressive video format, not only gives your website a cleaner look but also improves the chance to engage a potential customer.

09 Establishes Brand Identity

The prime reason that makes a customer come back to you repeatedly is the brand identity. It is important that the customer connects to your brand identity to gain trust and to make that happen; using explainer video is the best option.

10 Easily Sharable

An explainer video has a wider reach and it is not limited to just your website. People show interest in sharing the links of the videos they like.

Companies all over the world are creating videos about everything right from cause awareness to reviews, which clearly underline the gaining popularity of videos in marketing strategy. The promising future of video is waiting for you.

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead

 

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Not everyone is able to look for the positives in the challenges and treat them as opportunities. Charuvi Agarwal was able to transform her challenges into strengths and carve a niche for her studio, Charuvi Design Labs.

The journey from the point of initiation to the present time of existence and functioning is a journey of learning and growth. We have with us, Charuvi from Charuvi Design Labs sharing the experiences of her journey.

Charuvi
Hanuman Suspended Sculpture of 26000 Bells, from “26000 bells of Light”.

CG. What was your inspiration to have your own setup and establish yourself as a brand in the design industry?

Charuvi. To go beyond what exists, to push boundaries and create a new level within the design space worked as an inspiration for us.

 

The idea behind CDL was to create high-quality animation and design work supported by installations, art in India and be recognized among the best in the world.

Charuvi
Hanuman Suspended Sculpture of 26000 Bells, from “26000 bells of Light”.

CG. How difficult or easy was it to give your dream of having your own set up a life in the form of Charuvi Design Labs?

Charuvi. The journey hasn’t been easy and never really is for any design studio!

 

In general, there are a few people (although now increasing) who appreciate high-quality content and are willing to patronize or support it. It was a struggle for us in the first few years, but as we learned more, we got better at what we were doing and found the right path.

Charuvi
Kavad - 16 feet Story book, from '26000 bells of Light'.

Today, we are a niche studio focusing on a unique stylised art-based animation, including AR and VR beside creating artwork worthy of homes, offices and museums.

Charuvi
A 3D animated musical film on Shri Hanuman Chalisa

CG. How did you manage to bring CDL to the point where it is today in spite of all the challenges that came your way?

Charuvi. The biggest challenge was to establish the right value in the mind of the clients for our quality of work.

 

The second challenge was to find and train talent. And the third was to find the right focus and clarity towards our work domains, be it 2D versus 3D animation or doing CG versus ad films.

Charuvi
A 3D animated musical film on Shri Hanuman Chalisa

I think as entrepreneurs and artists we need to be very clear about what it is that we wish to do and need to learn and evolve to do it better. At some point your client shall start valuing the expertise. And this has been our answer to these challenges.

Charuvi
Chotukool, Godrej. A still from a 3d animated film.

CG. What was the starting point for CDL to institute itself as a name in the market?

Charuvi. The starting point was our 3D animated short film ‘Shri Hanuman Chalisa’ which gave us the visibility of our work quality and design essence. The idea was to re-narrate a story in the most visually engaging manner.

Charuvi
ICRC’s Journey of Indian Soil, ICRC. A 2d animated film.

CG. According to you, what is marketing and its importance?

Charuvi. Marketing oneself is a combination of many things, starting with one’s overall quality of work, from honesty and ethical dealing with clients to being professional with your approach.

Charuvi
Sustainable Sugar-cane Initiative (SSI), GIZ. A still from a 3D animated film.

CG. What is that secret that still keeps you moving forward in the creation of CDL?

Charuvi. Wanting to create something new and better, exciting pieces of work which surpass the expectation of the client as well as satisfying for us is a major source of motivation to keep creating and growing.

Charuvi
Sustainable Sugar-cane Initiative (SSI), GIZ. A still from a 3D animated film.

Understanding what perseverance is and having a positive outlook in life definitely help in going a long way in ones’ journey.

Issue 44 - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 44

Behind every successful studio, artist or designer there are stories of challenges, struggles and their unique solutions to these. With this issue, we interviewed many well-known names from the creative industry and found their different learnings and experiences behind making their own self as a brand. Though they all have a different take on this topic, still they all unanimously emphasise on focusing on their skills and quality delivery of the final outcome. So, if you are looking to establish yourself as a brand in the creative market or already in the process of it, this issue is a must read. Full of insights and inspirations from the best of the talents, this issue is waiting to reach your desks.

 

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