animation is reaching new heights and appealing to global audiences, Indian animation cannot really see beyond mythology. But the father of Indian animation, Ram Mohan, asks why is that?
FICCI Frames 2008, discussed the future of Indian animation and animated films and how the animation the world over has evolved to cater not just to a country or culture but to the entire globe. Various stalwarts from the animation industry presented their views while Munjal Shroff, director and COO, Graphiti moderated the session.
This poor handling of the mythological films has left a bad impression upon Indian animation which had just started making independent content. The fact with Indian mythological is that one doesn't need to pay for the rights of the story as it is a part of culture. Also the fact that most audiences know the story associated with the mythological makes it easier for audiences to digest as they can fill in the gaps themselves. "An important factor that the scriptwriter needs to pay attention to while making a mythological programme is to add his own spin to it in order to make it original and unique," said Mohan. An example he gave was about a Japanese company that made an animated film on the mythological story of Ramayana.
Finally he added that one needs to look for content beyond the shores, introduce a unique style and be continually inspired.
Jean Thoren, president and CEO, Animation Magazine, USA, agreed that it is only unique content that will appeal to audiences globally and will take animation forward. "Korean and Japanese animated characters have filtered into the west and are a rage at a time when western animation is technologically ahead," she said. She listed a few characters of Korean and Japanese origin such as Pororo, Pucca, Blue Dragon and Pokemon.
While creating unique content, Thoren said, it was important to answer certain questions such as what is the arc of the character that is being created, what is different about this character from the other characters that are already part of the space and does the character appeal to a single culture/country or is it prepared for global audiences.
To present her views on the subject was Joanna Ferrone, the creator of Fido, the animated brand ambassador of 7Up. Ferrone emphasised on connecting with the animated character that is being conceived. "Only then would you take a part of you into the character and it would be original," said Ferrone. She re-counted how she created the legendary Fido on a cocktail napkin in 1985. Ferrone brought up the very important point of being responsible while creating animated material as children are the major consumers of this content.
Next Sharad Devrajan, CEO, Virgin Comics shared how Virgin comics created a mass chunk of Indian characters for the Indian audiences with comics such as Devi and Sadhu. Devrajan pointed out a very important phase where cinema has come of age to convert the traditional comic strips into full fledged animated movies. Also present was Siddharta Jain, CEO, iRock. Jain had a different view to share. He wasn't very pleased with the idea of continuing to sell mythology as an exciting product to animation. "We need to push creativity with better writing and visual work," he said. Jain pointed out that the Indian audience is not very open to the present animation quality in comparison to the exciting and glossy live action market that is available in abundance.
Finally Nandish Domlur, chief executive officer of Paprikaas, came up with a few pointers necessary while creating content for animation. These were global sensitivities, audiences, business nuances and character designs. "While creating this global content it is critical to deliver quality," said Domlur. Importing talent and training is also not a bad idea, he said. Summarising all he said that to create great content one needs a great team, investment in research and development, and greater partnerships of educational institutes with the industry of animation.