Ruhi Sinha always wanted to pursue a career where she could apply both her intellectual and creative abilities. Being an animator suited her interests.
So, how did Sinha achieve a dream career? “Being brought up by a journalist father and an artist mother, their creative ­pursuits had a big influence on me. As a child, I had too many hobbies and interests. After ­college I started working as a ­software engineer in India, but soon enough, felt like a misfit. Then one fine day, I happened to watch ‘Finding Nemo’ and that was my moment of truth. I wanted to ­create a ­magical world. Soon after, I began ­reading an­imation books in my spare time, quit my job and went to pursue master’s in computer graphics and game technology at the University of Pennsylvania. As luck would have it, I was hired at DreamWorks while I was ­finishing my last semester there,” says Sinha, who is now based in Los Angeles.
With over seven years of ­experience as an artist and ­technician in the animation film industry and video game ­industry, Sinha has worked on many films such as Home, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Turbo, Kung Fu Panda 2, Monsters Vs. Aliens and AAA rated video games. Sinha, who grew up in Mumbai and Goa, has worked both as technical director and lighting artist on The Croods, which was nominated for the Oscars and won the Annie Award­ for Best Animated Feature.
“To be part of a film that is ­nominated in the same category as a creative genius like Hayao Miyazaki (nominated for ‘The Wind Rises’), is an ­honour,” says Sinha, who believes that this achievement has not been easy to attain.
“When I started out in 2005, there were no ­animation ­courses in India which offered an ­all-rounded ­specialisation that not only teach basics like how to animate, but also help you ­understand the ­physics and math behind ­computer ­generated imagery, ­principles of visual ­storytelling, the art of ­filmmaking and the needs of the industry. In India, students are being exposed to ­software usage which can be mastered very ­easily. This may be help one find a job but it’s not enough to ­create a ­benchmark in this field,” she says.
In order to be at par with industry ­leaders, it’s important for ­technology, art and design institutes in India to offer ­specialisations in ­computer graphics and animation, she adds.
Clearing misconceptions about the skills required to be an animator, Sinha says, “Animation is only for those who can draw, doodle or paint. This was true for traditional hand drawn animation but in 3D animation art is only one aspect, technology is ­equally ­important. Also, you shouldn’t ­compartmentalise ­yourself even if you become a specialist in one area of ­animation, always be proactive in sustaining your skills as an all-rounder.”
For this young animator, working with the finest of the lot from all over the world is the best part of the job. “Every film comes with a ­different set of challenges. We have to continuously work hard for months, and sometimes years, to make a 90 minute film that makes people smile. This is what I cherish the most,” she concludes.
All you need to know about a career as an animator
An animator is an artist who ­creates characters and makes them interact in an ­ever-­changing, exciting backdrop. Animators work in a variety of fields, ­including film, television, video games and the internet. According to a 2011 PwC report, the animation, gaming and visual effects industry will continue to maintain its growth pace and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 21.4% to Rs. 82.6 billion in 2015
* Birla Institute of Technology, Noida; www.bitmesra.ac.in
* Industrial Design Centre (IDC), Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai; www.idc.iitb.ac.in
* Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC); www.maacindia.com
* Toonz Academy, Thiruvananthapuram; www.toonzacademy.com
If you are good at sketching and have a passion for animation, you can enter the field after ­taking a degree or diploma in animation. The minimum ­qualification required for these courses is Class 12. It helps if you have an arts background. However, at the IDC, Mumbai, only graduates of ­architecture, technology and engineering, and fine arts can apply for the ­postgraduate course
Skills and traits
* Loads of imagination
* A good sense of colour, ­proportion and size
* Ability to work with others under extreme pressure
* Strong interpersonal ­communication skills as one has to be in touch with ­programmers, illustrators, designers and ­storyboard artists, apart from the client
Constant upgradation of knowledge is essential
Rs. I take home
In the United States, an animation artist can earn $80,000-140,000 per year depending on their ­experience and expertise
I love my job because...
I can make people smile
It is always a team’s effort and if you are not being receptive to the creative ideas and suggestions of others around you, it can have an adverse effect on your personal growth