The bare necessities of animation!

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Ah, the magic of Jungle Book! It is such that it transcends across generations, genres of art or mode of cinema-telling! This classic story by Rudyard Kipling continues to capture the attention of everyone. Whether it was the age-old archetypal book, published in 1893 or the most recent movie version, which has only one actor to its credit in it; the story is truly a marvel and a perfect example of what classics are made of!

The latest offing features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals, a feat of magical animation and technical brilliance. Director Jon Favreau pooled various animating techniques into a faultless, exquisite experience of the jungle. In fact, the animals look so realistic that it is hard to believe that they are, but, computer-generated animals! And by the end of the movie, the animals’ seem as natural as their fur, hide or feathers. The new live action remake is the latest in a long string of reboots, six in total!

The movie recorded a massive $103.6 million opening weekend and has grossed a worldwide total of $776.2 million so far! Talk about appealing across all genres, this one sure hits the mark!

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The new ‘Mowgli’
The young child actor, Neel Sethi, barely a teen yet, holds the movie strong on his shoulders. The little one who landed a breakout role as Mowgli in the classic tale had also starred in Diwali (2013) earlier. He was selected for the role of Mowgli among thousands who auditioned across the globe.

Did you know that Neel had read the book just before the audition and after reading a part of it; he liked it so much that he bought it from a book fair? Makes us wonder, what would have happened, if he didn’t like the book!

The actor who was born in 2003, the same year that the 1967 film’s direct-to-video sequel The Jungle Book 2 (2003) was released, loves playing football, basketball and baseball and his favourite actress is Priyanka Chopra in real life and Baloo the bear is his favourite character from the movie in reel life.

Unknown details about the latest sensation in Hollywood, here are some interesting ones:

  1. His favourite dish is Lobster Ravioli.
  2. He can throw a perfect spiral with the football that Bill Murray gave him.
  3. His favourite TV show right now is
  4. He can eat all three Hagaan Daz bars that come in the pack, in one sitting!
  5. Uptown Funk is one of his favourite songs.
  6. When he is not in the concrete jungle of NY, he loves being in the Berkshires.
  7. His favourite car is the Lamborghini Countach 25 Anniversary Edition in red!
  8. He got to fly on Mickey Mouses’ private jet.
  9. He has over 100 apps on my cell phone, and he uses almost all of them!
  10. He loves school and hopes to be a dentist one day.

Little known trivia about the movie:

  • The film released in India on April 8th, a week ahead of its U.S. debut, to pay tribute to the Indian environment of the film/novel. The film released in 2016, to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the original Disney animated classic masterpiece The Jungle Book(1967).
  • In the 1967 version, King Louie was an orangutan; in this film, he’s a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan whose range is believed to have included parts of India. This change in species was made to make the film more fantastic and since orangutans are not native to India.
  • While the film is a live-action adaptation of the 1967 version, the filmmakers decided to include elements from the Rudyard Kipling novel to make the film more adventurous and dangerous.
  • The talking animals in this film were created using animal behaviour, then having the actors copy those movements in motion-capture VFX. All the locations in the film are computer-generated VFX.
  • The CG character Baloo is so large and furry; he took almost five hours of rendering time per frame.
  • Ben Kingsley described Bagheera as a militant character; “He’s probably a colonel, he is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is.”
  • Remote jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference for the jungle environment in the film.
  • Whilst the animals are all native to India, Ben Kingsley is the only voice actor to be of South Asian origin as he is ethnically Anglo-Indian.
  • The wolf pups in the film are named after motion capture actors and other crew members.
  • Giancarlo Esposito who voices the wolf Akela, was featured in a commercial for the video game Destiny (2014) where he narrated a part of the poem ‘The Law of the Jungle’. This poem appears in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Second Jungle Book’.
  • Actor Neel Sethi said that since he never actually worked with real animals’ onset during filming, director Jon Favreau would on occasion stand in for where the animals would be present, one most notably as Sher Khan lunging out from the tall grass.
  • Despite not being a musical, several songs from the 1967 animated film, including ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ were included in this film. The songs from The Jungle Book(1967) appear as bits of dialogue in this film. Kaa speaks ‘Trust in Me’, and Baloo sings a bit of ‘The Bare Necessities’.
  • Actors Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s sons Sasha and Kai make their film debut in the movie as little wolves! Director Jon Favreau’s children also appear in the movie.
  • The sounds you hear when Mowgli goes underwater when on Baloo’s tummy are generated through high powered underwater speakers made by oeanears.

Take a look at what goes on behind the scenes and how animation comes alive on screen!

New-age career options

New generation, new choices, new gadgets, new learnings and new career options. What was amiss until a decade ago or what didn’t even exist until recently is now the latest and newest career options for this generation’s young and charged individuals who are gung-ho about anything that catches their attention.

Something that has changed the world drastically was the internet and now is the social media; adding a whole new world of possibilities and jobs. These modern jobs have now spread and become a part of the upcoming trend in the job market. What’s more, these top-tier careers offer great salaries, low stress and great job growth!

Here is a mix of some of the newest, popular and trending career options; the world has to offer, right now.

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App developers
Who doesn’t own a smart phone nowadays, forget the regular one? Everyone! Considering the surge, mobile revolution is huge and the wave of app development with innovative and creative ideas is on the rise. App development companies now exist within the country and so do talented and quality app developers, churning out the newest of ideas, oops app!

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Web creative writers
This is one profession that has the highest potential to reach the highest exposure and wider audience. The best part, it need not be within the confines of an office. There are people who work from home for this, people who freelance and people who regularly go to work, for putting their wordsmith skills to the task. All one needs to do is write well and the world is but a virtual one here!

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Wedding photographers
Weddings have, are and always will be the most extravagant, eye-catching and memorable affair in the country. Gone are the days, when the guests wished the couple and stared blankly into oblivion while the photographer stoically took the photos. It’s now the age of candid wedding photography, theme wedding photography; you name it and you have it.

Reviewers
You have an opinion, you share it and get paid for it. Many companies, especially the online ones, pay people to review restaurants, hotels, gadgets and other things. Because it makes a difference in their online rating and because people like to check the reviews of anything before they buy, eat or indulge themselves. 

Social

Social media handlers
The virtual arena of the internet is yours as much as you can take and social media has the biggest and brightest chunk of it all. The most trending, happening, attention-grabbing things, all happen to be in the social media sphere. Everyone who wants to be someone or someone who wants to let everyone know are on social media. This growing popularity has led to the rise of social media handlers who are in high demand for marketing products, companies and much more in the digital space.

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Digital marketers
Digital marketing is another area that is fast emerging as one of the popular options in the age of the modern corporate era. It helps companies stay ahead and above the rest by utilizing the commercial perspective of modern digital media. Borrowing a lot from the functions of traditional marketing, this platform continues its upward trend. With more and more companies shifting their focus to digital marketing strategies, there is lots of scope in this industry.

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Ethical hackers
Ethical hackers do it the right way, legally too. They are paid to hack company accounts legally so that the organisations can identify the flaws in their systems and take necessary and adequate measures to rectify them. Ethical hacking or internet security is a job for those who love to spend hours on computers and have a penchant for software.

Webdesign

Website designers
The whole wide world now exists in the web, too! Everything is taking a digital form and practically everyone wants their presence on it. That’s where web designers come into the picture, creating the perfect ‘space’ for the customer depending on their needs and of course the price!

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Bloggers
It’s one of the latest and most popular, erstwhile hobbies, jobs on the corner that is growing. It is a hobby no more, it is now officially a full-fledged career option and the next big thing in India too. Not just restricted to popular topics like food and travel, it can be about anything you think should be out there in the blogosphere. All it needs is originality, ingenuity, creativity and of course credibility. That’s the power of the written word!

Image consultants
Image consultants do everything they can to keep the image the way it is supposed to be. They work for people in the show business and offer guidance in everything to make the public image absolutely spotless. You need to have a knack for the finery of life to take up this as a career path.

Stand-up comedians
This one’s for the comedian in you, albeit the great one and a professional one at that! No pun intended! These professionals are not just tickling senses and offering a hearty laugh with their witty jokes but are also pocketing good money. Although at a nascent stage, they do have their share of audience. Who doesn’t want a good share of laughter?! 

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Graphic designers
This one is a classic example of combining art and technology perfectly! This art and creativity job has found popularity among job seekers since graphics today are a part of practically everything we see, buy or sell, be it a commercial advertisement or buying a product.

So, these new-age careers may not come with set guidelines but they definitely have the perks and added advantages of independence and job satisfaction. So, identify your passion and hit the road less travelled!

A ‘walk-through’ of The Walk!

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High-wire training undertaken by the film’s star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, lengthy pre-vis, a green screen studio in Montreal, simul-cam setups, stunt doubles, face replacements, meticulous replication of 1974 New York and the Towers (including hand-animated traffic!), innovative cloud rendering, and well-planned out stereo – at a “very responsible” budget. We take you, step by step (pun intended) as to how Atomic Fiction, led by visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie, reproduced Philippe Petit’s daring high-wire act between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7th, 1974 for Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk.

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To portray Petit’s death-defying walk convincingly, several methods were adopted. Gordon-Levitt was trained by the actual wire-walker himself just prior to shooting, and continued training during photography. For scenes on the wire, production utilized the actor, or his stunt double, on a real wire, on special planks aka the Canadian Bar.

One challenge faced during shooting was the cross-over between the pre-visualization, actual partial set-build and assets that Atomic Fiction had begun the film’s digital construction on. “We had pre-vis (pre-visualization) assets from the original pre-vis that was done,” notes Baillie. “But then we realized they weren’t the same as the set build that had been done off of blueprints of the towers. We had to figure out where the differences were, take the pre-vis assets, tweak it to match the simul-cam just enough so that we could rely on it on set. Then in the post-vis (post-visualization) there was another round that went into it, but Atomic Fiction had started building the hero assets by then and could contribute some of those dimensions to the post-vis team. By the end of the process we had a model that was a dead nuts match of the set build and the entire building.”

Zemeckis leaned heavily on the 3D side of the final image to help immerse the audience in Petit’s world, both between the towers and in many other moments, during the film. To do this, he shot in mono. “I think that’s a very important distinction to make, and we had several meetings early on to make sure that everybody from Bob through to set construction were clear on what the rules were on 3D for this film. Bob really respects 3D as a tool and wanted to make sure we got it right, even though we were doing a conversion, that he got the film-making and lighting and focus, and what compositions worked. He also had to consider how he would cut the movie, he was thinking about editing while shooting.” Legened3D handled the conversion work, taking packages of final comps from the VFX vendors and layering them together within the desired stereo budget. “Interestingly,” notes Baillie, “there are only 826 shots in the movie in total. Some blockbuster films have 2200 visual effects shots. But Bob wanted to make sure that for the 3D to work he would give the audience time to take in the environment and feel it, which works better in stereo.”

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Although this article concentrates on the main wire sequence, The Walk also included significant visual effects contributions from two other vendors – Rodeo FX and UPP. Rodeo delivered effects for several Twin Towers ground level scenes that had been filmed only on partial sets, as well as the shots of Petit narrating the film upon the torch of the Statue of Liberty. UPP handled Paris sequences that were filmed in old Montreal, Petit’s early wire performance at a park in France (filmed almost entirely on green screen), and his walk between the towers of the Notre Dame cathedral (again a green screen stunt).

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“India will be among the top content creators”

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Established in the year 1999, Toonz Animation India Pvt. Ltd is the state-of-the-art animation production facility of Toonz group. The 18,000 sq feet facility is nestled in Technopark, India’s largest IT Park located in the South Indian state of Kerala, one of the must see destinations of a lifetime as described by National Geographic Traveller. From the creation of India’s first 2D animated TV series & 2D feature film, to India’s first 3D stereoscopic theatrical, the studio boasts of an envious pedigree that saw many successful coproduction partnerships with the likes of Walt Disney, Turner, Nickelodeon, Sony, Universal, BBC, Paramount, Marvel and Hallmark.

Today, the studio has emerged as the leader in the Indian animation industry with a host of successful productions for the domestic market and one of the most admired studios in South East Asia. The studio has been heralded by Animation Magazine as ‘one of the top ten studios to watch’ and also been chosen as one among India’s top ten ‘cool’ companies to work for.

Toonz Animation is now our placement and intern partner.  Mr. Jaya Kumar, CEO shared his thoughts on the animation industry.  Read on to find out what he has to say about the right recipe for a successful profession in the world of animation, what wins when it comes to content or technology and much more.

What do you think is the proper recipe for being a successful professional in the animation industry?
Lots of passion, lots of practice, constant learning, always updated and last but not least, an entrepreneurial attitude.

Regardless of an ocean of creative minds working in the Indian Animation Industry, why do you think our industry is not booming (Intellectual Property creation as compared to Outsourcing) in the international market and what can be done to bring us to spotlight?
This is not entirely true. First of all we need to understand that Indian Animation Industry is in a transitionary stage from a destination for outsourcing because of cheap labour to a participatory creative activity since people abroad have started believing in the creative power of India. While India is not fully recognized as a resource for successful IPs originating from India, the fact is that we have already started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. India is emerging to be the largest young population with lot of appetite for animated entertainment content in various platforms. Some of the new concepts getting developed are able to travel across the world. India is at the threshold of crossing over to quality content from quantity. Quantity at a lower cost, even at the cost of quality was a need during the last decade. It was more on the Indian content that could connect with the Indian kids. There are ample examples of successes for that. Now it is slowly turning to quantity AND quality. We will be seeing a flood of quality Indian content from India for India in the immediate future essentially due to better money and the better appetite for Indian kids for quality.

Now coming to bringing India to the spotlight in the international market, we believe, the world has changed and so did we. Now we are looked at as a destination not only for getting the work done at a better cost but India is also looked at as a very strong partner both creatively as well as production-wise.

As far as Toonz is concerned our playground has already become more global. Another important matter in today’s market is the overall demand for content for digital platforms. And that is not local. It is international. The boundaries have started to blur big time. It is the innovation, technology and the creative power that is going to rule the immediate future. Henceforth there will not be the concept of specific region or country when it comes to Digital Platform. The content will still rule even in the regionalism. We need to come up with localised content and spread across the world. And there is no escape from this if one wants to remain in this industry.

Where do we stand in the Animation Industry in CGI/Visual Effects and where do we find ourselves ten years from now?
Technically and creatively, we are quite there in comparison to international arena. Feature films like Kung Fu Panda 3, are examples for this. A look at the credit list will prove that. So it is not the question of talent or skill. It is the question of opportunity and that is fast opening up in India. As far as VFX is concerned, there have been only a handful of films that demanded heavy VFX. And the use of VFX to tell the story or to enhance the visuals has already arrived and it is here to stay.

Talking about ten years from now, it is too difficult to predict as the technology and the appetite are fast changing by months. One clear thing that is emerging is that people have started believing in VFX for feature films. When it comes to animated features, it is a little different. Indian population is not yet tuned to see a story told with animate characters. Chances of success have been less due to the expense vs. the potential revenue. But by nature, Indians are way too smart to find ways to reduce the production cost and still tell a story effectively. This is proved multiple times with live-action feature films. Even if we have to really predict, in ten years from now, the technology and the viewing experience is going to change drastically and as it has proved in the last few years, India has caught up with the international technology pretty swiftly and we will be among the top content creators and consumers in the entertainment field, for sure.

Content versus Technology, what should be given relevance and why? Please share your views.
Content is the King and will be the King always. While technology can keep changing, if the focus on content is not strong enough, there is a huge waste of time and money by over-using technology. Yes, technology can hugely change the viewing experience. But content is always going to be a challenge to quench the appetite of the people in all ages.

What advice you would like to offer to aspiring creative people.
Hold on to your passion and find novel ways of telling stories to keep the world entertained. Never allow your passion to die due to the environment. Exploit the best technologies available at that time to make the viewing experience special. Never compromise the content for technology. Technology will follow your passion.

 

The Oscars are here!

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It’s time for the Oscars again. Scheduled for the 28th of February 2016 it will be the 88th Academy Awards ceremony! Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), they will honour the best English-language films of 2015. During the ceremony AMPAS will present the Academy Awards (commonly referred to as the Oscars) in 24 categories.

Here’s a look at some of the major Academy Award categories.

Best Picture
Nominees:

  • Spotlight
  • The Big Short
  • The Revenant
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Room

Potential Winner: Spotlight
The movie is about journalists investigating a Father, who is accused of molesting more than 80 boys. As they dig deeper and acknowledge their paper’s own failings, the team uncovers a conspiracy of lawyers and government officials who were part of it.
 

Best Director
Nominees:

  • Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
  • Adam McKay (The Big Short)
  • George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
  • Lenny Abrahamson, (Room)

Potential Winner: Adam McKay (The Big Short)
Four outsiders to Wall Street use their unconventional knowledge of the financial markets to predict the meltdowns of the housing market and big banks. Betting together on the coming catastrophe, the quartet manages to invest astutely and make a fortune, while exposing the corruption of several large financial institutions.

 
Best Actor
Nominees:

  • Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  • Matt Damon (The Martian)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  • Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  • Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Potential Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Hugh Glass, a 19th century American frontiersman who is assumed dead by his comrades after being mauled by a bear during a expedition. Barely surviving his wounds, the movie traces the journey of Glass as he is driven by thoughts of his family and a desire for revenge as he endures the frigid winter and pursues the men who left him for dead.
 

Best Actress
Nominees:

  • Cate Blanchett (Carol)
  • Brie Larson (Room)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
  • Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Potential Winner: Brie Larson (Room)
Brie Larson portrays Ma, a woman held captive in a small shed for seven years, who strives to create a normal life for Jack, her young son. When Ma and Jack escape their captor, Old Nick, they must cope with the outside world and forge relationships with Ma’s conflicted family.

 
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees:

  • Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  • Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
  • Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  • Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Potential Winner: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
In 1957, in the midst of the Cold War, New York insurance lawyer James Donovan is enlisted to provide a pro-bono defense for Rudolf Abel, who is accused of spying for the Russians.
As Rudolf Abel, Mark Rylance plays an undercover KGB agent stationed in the U.S. who is apprehended and tried for espionage.
 

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees:

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
  • Rooney Mara (Carol)
  • Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
  • Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
  • Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Potential Winner: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Alicia Vikander plays Gerda, a painter in the 1920s who wrestles with her course of action when her husband reveals his desire to live as a woman. A fictitious love story it’s about the lives of Danish artists, and how their marriage and work evolve as they navigate the groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

 

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees:

  • Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies)
  • Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley (Inside Out)
  • Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)
  • Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
  • Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton)

Potential Winner: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley (Inside Out)
When 11-year-old Riley and her parents move to a new city, it’s up to Riley’s five main emotions — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust — to help her adjust. Joy and Sadness are accidentally launched on a journey through Riley’s brain to preserve her core memories, and as the duo races back to Headquarters, Fear, Anger and Disgust must figure out how to guide Riley.

 

Best Animated Feature
Nominees:

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • When Marnie Was There
  • Shaun the Sheep

Potential Winner: Boy and the World
Despite his family’s poverty, young Cuca lives a satisfying life, full of wonder at his rural surroundings, until his father goes on a train trip and disappears. While searching for his father, Cuca meets a wide variety of people as he journeys from a farming camp to the ocean and a large factory and then back to the big city.

 
Best Cinematography
Nominees:

  • Carol (Ed Lachman)
  • The Hateful Eight (Robert Richardson)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)
  • The Revenant (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • Sicario (Roger Deakins)

Potential Winner: The Revenant (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Based on the true story of 1800s frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was left for dead in a harsh winter, the film had a notoriously long and difficult shoot in snowy Canada and Argentina. But Emmanuel Lubezki may have taken on his biggest challenge yet, which was shot in freezing conditions, and used only natural light.

 

Best Original Score
Nominees:

  • Carol (Carter Burwell)
  • Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
  • The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
  • Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
  • Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens (John Williams)

Potential Winner: Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
FBI Agent Kate Macer is recruited by a shadowy government official to join an inter-agency task force to apprehend a Mexican cartel leader. Jóhann Jóhannsson on scoring music for Sicario says, “I wanted to create music that had an underlying tension and a sense of coming from below the earth, like a throbbing pulse that resonates from underground or the pounding heartbeat of a wild beast that is charging at you. I also wanted to evoke the sadness and melancholy of the border, the border fences and the tragedy of the drug war.”

 

Best Original Song
Nominees:

  • Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Manta Ray from Racing Extinction
  • Simple Song #3 from Youth
  • Til It Happens To You from The Hunting Ground
  • Writings on the Wall from Spectre

Potential Winner: Writings on the Wall from Spectre
Sam Smith’s theme song Writings on the Wall for the new James Bond movie Spectre has become the first in the history of the franchise to top the charts. It soared straight to No 1 in its first week of release with 70,000 combined sales and streams. It makes Smith the first artist to achieve a No 1 song with a Bond theme. It reportedly took him just 20 minutes to write and he called it the “quickest song I’ve ever written”. He’s certainly made history having won a Guinness World Record too for the song.
 

Best Visual Effects
Nominees:

  • Ex Machina
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Potential Winner:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
With the big three stars, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, there is an obvious continuity, and the director went to great lengths to connect The Force Awakens to the original trilogy. There are more than 2100 odd visual effects shots in the movie and obviously it’s a massive undertaking. 

 

Top Ten Pick of 2015

2015-best
The year gone by has given some great gems and even bigger duds. But mostly it has been good for Hindi films, which had a good balance and mix of a variety of movies ranging from historical to romantic and from the best of VFX used in movies to real-inspired stories. And they all seemed to have managed to work well with the audience.

While some movies may not have been big-budget films, they still have fared brilliantly at the box-office and most importantly earned great reviews from the critics.

Here’s our list of some of the best movies 2015 has seen:
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  1. Bajrangi Bhaijaan
    The story of a man with a noble heart who tries to take a young mute Pakistani girl back to her homeland to reunite her with her family, touched the right chord with the audience and it was a big hit. Salman Khan essaying the lead role was much appreciated and people flocked the theatres to see it over and over again.

    bahubali

  2. Bahubali
    In ancient India, an adventurous and daring man gets involved in a decade-old feud between two warring families. The slick film with great special effects and exceptional performances broke all language barriers and was widely well received making it a big blockbuster across the country. Cinemagoers are eagerly looking forward to the second part of this most expensive film ever that has an otherworldly medieval landscape, with gigantic waterfalls, towering mountains and forests.

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  3. Drishyam
    Drishyam had what it takes to `hook’ the audience, be it in any language. This was one movie that had a universal appeal and touched the right chord, a story that people liked and appreciated for its novel theme and treatment. The original Drishyam (Malayalam) was inspired by Japanese crime-writer, Keigo Higashino’s novel The Devotion of Suspect X and was later made as Drishya (Kannada), Drushyam (Telugu), Papanasam (Tamil) and Drishyam (Hindi). The story is about a man who tries desperate measures to save his family from the dark side of the law, after they commit an unexpected crime.

    Bajirao Mastaani

  4. Bajirao Mastaani
    The tale of romance between an Indian general Baji Rao I and Mastani, a Muslim princess proved to be a box-office success. Right down to its sets, songs and war sequences, everything was grandeur personified. The lyrical masterpiece with its poetic dialogues and literary brilliance strike the audience with its grandeur.

    Manjhi

  5. Manjhi
    Using only a hammer and a chisel, a man spends twenty-two years carving a road through a treacherous mountain. This movie is a salute to the acting skills of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and was based on a true story and critically much appreciated.

    Talvar

  6. Talvar
    The film is about an experienced investigator who confronts several conflicting theories about the perpetrators of a violent double homicide. It is as real as reality can be with its portrayal of the professional rivalries between investigating teams and is a brave film that devastates and makes for a compelling watch.

    Tamasha

  7. Tamasha
    Tamasha is about the journey of someone who has lost his edge in trying to behave according to socially acceptable conventions of the society. This complex and intriguing journey is a theatrical attempt at exploring love, life and the love for life in its best form – free from the shackles of society. Ranbir and Deepika’s performances were a notch above the rest.

    Piku

  8. Piku
    The quirky comedy about the relationship between an ageing father and his young daughter, living in a cosmopolitan city, dealing with each other’s conflicting ideologies while being fully aware that they are each other’s only emotional support is a new story never before seen on screen. The movie offered no romantic escapades but the relationship between the eccentric family of Piku was endearing and much loved.

    Badlapur

  9. Badlapur
    After his family is killed during a bank robbery, a man tries to avenge their death. That is the story of Badlapur, a revenge saga that plays out with great intensity and superb acting by its lead actors.

    Dum Laga Ke Haisha

  10. Dum Laga Ke Haisha
    A slim uneducated guy is pressured into an arranged marriage with an over-weight college girl. The mismatched couple are challenged to compete in the annual wife-carrying race. A new kind of story, it was critically acclaimed.

Indian animation, a huge force for the future

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Gaming and animation are two areas now that are seeing a high demand for talent. Not only are they very exciting and newer fields to work in but are also one of those few fields which are witnessing tremendous growth very quickly, thereby creating great career opportunities for trained and talented people.

What was more so relegated to the sidelines until a decade ago is now fast becoming the mainstream in film entertainment, television and of course the internet. That trend is changing now and how! Animation is fast becoming the hottest career to pursue. The young artists who once faced the criticism for being different and choosing a path not trodden by many, are now being seen as the torch bearers for taking the industry to a global level of recognition and hopefully awards.

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A few sketches from a story, done by one of our students.

The country’s animation brigade has made great strides in Hollywood (Life of Pi and Prometheus) and the bigwigs of the industry believe that this signals their arrival on the global stage in a small but significant way. Though they have been working for many Hollywood films for years, working on majority of the 3D conversion work, it is not until now that they have received their due.

With the growing demand for well-trained people, many animation studios and companies have come up in cities across the country, with Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum becoming the hubs. Many of them are equipped with the latest technology to tackle the demands of services, be it 2D animation, 3D animation, storyboards, product demos, illustrations, logos, banners, portraits, caricatures or customized ones. Famous for their work in post-production and 3D content development, this field has high-paying jobs for many digital artists and other technical specialists.

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3D rendering of a robot, as imagined and done by one of our students.

Reasons why global entertainment firms are flocking to India are a many. It is because of the low costs (cost of animation production in India is one-fourth the cost of what it costs in the West). Not just that, India been the second largest entertainment industry in the world, our studios provide a large pool of high-quality software engineers who are familiar with and on par with the latest trends and technologies. Added advantages are that the English speaking workforce overcomes the language barrier.

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A few of the characters, in one of our students’ story.

To put things in perspective, here are some facts: India’s animation entertainment sector has experienced a major boom in the recent past, employing over 80,000 people, and the current size is estimated at US$ 247 million and expected to grow at 15-20% per annum. According to the latest report by NASSCOM the animation industry in India will grow at 22 percent every year. How is that to beat?!

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Imagination coming to life, in this student’s character lineup.

Many animation studios and production houses in the country are packed with work be it outsourced from abroad or in-house projects for the market at home. Which is why, the animation industry faces a talent crunch, and trained and talented people are the need of the hour.

The ice seems to have broken and the reach and popularity of animated content has crossed all barriers and is something that the larger audience is familiar with. This could be the best time to enter this industry!

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The evolution of animation since the reign of Reiniger

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Rita Baukrowitz and Andy Giorbino

Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger, born 1899, was a German film director and the foremost pioneer of silhouette animation. Her passion for cinema and precision in work left a lasting impression on everyone including Walt Disney, who took her to Hollywood.

Reiniger made over 40 films in her career, before passing away in 1981.

To mark Goethe Zentrum’s 10th anniversary and the Hamburg – Hyderabad partnership, a guest lecture on Reiniger was held at AISFM recently. The speakers were Rita Baukrowitz and Andy Giorbino.

Rita Baukrowitz is the Head of International Programming at Kinemathek Hamburg. She studied ethnology, sociology and journalism at the University of Goettingen with an emphasis on theory and practice of ethnographic film, movie and documentary.

She was employed in various fields of visual arts and film. Since 2001, she’s been working as a Research Associate for the Cinematheque Hamburg and is responsible for programming, press and public relations at the cinema Kommunales Kino Metropolis, Hamburg.

The lecture began with a screening of Reiniger’s first silent animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) accompanied by live music composed by Andy Giorbino.

The guest lecture mapped the evolution of animation films in Germany from 1926 till today

Rita spoke about Reiniger’s animated film, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed or The Adventures of Prince Achmed. This was the first feature length animation film of Germany (65 minutes), about a prince who is given a flying horse by a cunning wizard and is sent off on an adventurous trip.

On the trip, he meets Aladdin, battles demons and befriends a witch, all to win the heart of a princess. Rita screened a few stunning sequences from the film and spoke about the techniques used by Reiniger back in 1926.

Rita spoke about how each silhouette was cut by hand with a nail scissor. She threw light on how Reiniger manipulated each joint of the characters to create movement. Rita also spoke about the restoration of the film and how each frame was tinted with color.

“Apparently, there were over 200,000 shots before the editing was complete and the film took almost four years to be made,” said Rita.

“Reiniger found inspiration to make this film from a shadow puppet show that she had seen and so she used the same shadowing technique in the film,” informed Rita.

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One of the founding fathers among the musicians of a Hamburg based avant garde music and experimental ‘New Wave’ scene (“Hamburger Schule”), Andy Giorbino composed live music for the film, years after it released.

The music in the original was provided by Wolfgang Zeller. But Andy’s arrangements combine both a live act and a pre-recorded electronic soundtrack. The composer then showed a clipping of ‘Prince Achmed’ with the sound that he used as a background score, and how it differed from that of the original composer.

Andy Giorbino demonstrated the software that he used for composing the piece of music and spoke about how he gives a different acoustic identification for each animation.

“For all scenes that included the flying horse, I’ve used the flute. The flute is a very compelling and fluid instrument. It took me an entire month to compose the background score,” revealed Andy.

“I did not want to refer to the music originally used for the film in 1926. I wanted something original. So it was a tough task,” he said.

A composer who follows all genres of music ardently, Andy knew well the impact of music in Hindi films. “Music plays an intricate part in Indian films. It forms a very strong bond between the visuals and audience,” he said.

Andy then went on to reveal his Indian inspiration. “I have been inspired by Indian music. In fact, I did use some elements in films that I composer for. I call it the ‘Indian’ shots,” he said, with a laugh.

Meanwhile, on the filmmaking front, Rita was mighty impressed with the talent coming to the forefront in Indian cinema. “People love Bollywood music in Germany. Indian cinema is much celebrated there.”

Showed her appreciation for indie filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, she said, “Anurag is an amazing and talented filmmaker. I had invited him to Hamburg recently as part of the Connecting Cultures Festival. It was a great experience.”

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15 Of The Best Disney Animated Movies Ever!

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1. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)

We think this movie is one that needs no introduction. The first ever full-length animated feature and the first feature film to have a released soundtrack, Snow White’s story is the most popular among the works of Walt Disney, and has been seen by many generations. During production, fifty different names were considered for the dwarfs and Walt Disney offered cash incentives to animators who could come up with funny ideas. At the time of release, the forest scenes were considered incredibly scary – the british censor board gave the film and Adult rating! Walt Disney was eventually awarded an honorary Oscar, which included 7 smaller statues.

2. Pinocchio(1940)

This movie was the first animated film to win an Academy Award. A puppet is carved by Geppeto and is brought to life by the blue fairy. He is told that if he is brave, truthful and selfless, he will become a real boy one day. Orignally budgeted at $500,000, the film went way over budget, costing $2.5 million making it one of the most expensive films of the time. Pinocchio is one of the lucky few to have be selected for the United States National Film Registry.

3. Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella is Walt Disney’s most famous love story. At a cost of $3 million, if the film had flopped, it probably would have been the end of Disney! Thankfully both the film and the soundtrack were huge hits, saving the company and helping to fund the construction of Disneyland. This musical fantasy film belongs to Disney’s ‘golden era’. The songs and dialogues of this movie went on to become popular quotes like ‘A dream is a wish your heart makes’.  Said to be “The greatest since Snow White” by its critics, Cinderella will “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” its way into your heart.

4. Alice In Wonderland (1951)

Described as an “all cartoon musical wonderfilm”, Alice In Wonderland was a one-of-a-kind movie.It allows your imagination to run wild with ‘a drink that will shrink you’ and ‘a cookie that will make you grow’, a cat that disappears into smoke and a crazy man obsessed with a tea party. This was the first Disney film for which the voice actors where credited with the characters that they play кредитная карта с 18 лет. Which the film was released, it was a commercial failure, but it slowly developed a cult status and became very successful in the rental market. Disney originally considered shooting Alice in live-action and combining her with an animated world, but finally went with complete animation. The film is a great way to introduce kids (or even adults) to Lewis Carrols original books.

5. The Jungle Book (1967)

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, The Jungle Book is part of the Walt Disney Animation Classics. Considered to be the “happiest possible way to remember Walt Disney” as he passed away just before its release, this movie had to be on our list. The story revolves around a boy, Mowgli, who is raised by wolves in an Indian jungle. He goes on to befriend a bear, who teaches him the ‘bare necessities of life’. While creating the artwork, Disney’s animators actually visited India and studied the plants and wildlife. So sit back and enjoy, as Mowgli takes you on a wild ride with his friends Bagheera and Baloo. Famous actor Gregory Peck resigned as president of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in 1970 because the members didn’t support his proposal of allowing animated films, particularly The Jungle Book, to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award.

6. The Little Mermaid (1989)

Originally considered by Disney in the 1930’s, it would take another 50 years before audiences would fall in love with the story of a mermaid who wishes to be human. She is our very first rebel princess, who wished to live independently and not according to the wishes of her father, the king. This is a revolution of Disney by itself when it comes to storytelling, and so becomes a must watch for everybody. This was the last Disney film to use hand-painted cels and the animators created more than one million drawings for the film.

7. Beauty And The Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most dynamic romantic musicals of all time. Songs make up almost 30% of the film and there only five minutes of screentime that doesn’t have a musical score. The ballroom scene especially, will take your breath away. When Bell is forced to stay in a castle with a Beast, she accepts her faith and is ready to face her death. What she does not expect to find is the meaning of true love. The lead animator created the Beast by combining elements of a lion, buffalo, gorilla, wild boar, wolf and bear. Due to limited production time, many visual elements were reused form earlier Disney films and most of the sculptures throughout the castle are actually early concept drawings for the Beast! No wonder it was nominated as ‘Best Film’ (although it lost to Silence of the Lambs).

8. Aladdin (1992)

Part of the era of Disney Renaissance, Aladdin is the most viewed Disney movie ever and was the first animated film to cross the $200 million mark at the box office.. When a street urchin, Aladdin, falls hopelessly in love with the kingdom’s princess, Jasmine, he stumbles upon a magic lamp. With the help of the genie, he tries to win the heart of the love of his life. He goes on an adventure with his ever mischievous monkey, Apu to help the princess in living her life the way she wants to. Genie was voiced by Robin Williams, who improvised so many of his lines during the recording sessions that Aladdin was not eligible for screenwriting awards at the Oscars! As with most Disney films, the animators developed a colour palette to differentiate good and evil: blue for good, red for evil and yellow for neutral. A similar scheme was used in Beauty and the Beast.

9. The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King is the highest rated animated movie by Disney on IMDb (8.5/10). A musical by Walt Disney Animation, talking about the story of a young cub ‘Simba’, how he is tricked by his uncle into believing that he is the one responsible for his father’s death  and how he comes back to the pridelands to take charge of his destiny. The wildebeest stampede was one of the most advanced animations ever created at the time, requiring three years of work and the development of completely new animation software. A real lion and cub visited the animators studio so that they could study the movement. The Oscar-winning song ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ was originally a duet between Timon and Pumba, before being cut from the film. It was added back in after pleas from Elton John. Watch this movie and ‘Hakuna matata’ all your problems away.

10. Toy Story (1995)

Do you know what happens to your toys when you leave them alone in your room? If you’d like to know the answer to this, then you have to see Toy Story, the first animated film to be nominated for an Oscar’s best screenplay award.
When Andy buys a new toy, a Buzz lightyear figurine, his ex-favourite toy Woody gets insecure and jealous causing a series of hilarious mishaps when he tries to get rid of it. Toy Story was originally included a Barbie character as Woody’s love interest, but Mattell withdrew permission as they thought the film would fail. After Toy Story became the best box office performer of the year, Barbie appears in Toy Story 2. The first ever full length feature film made using computer animation, Toy Story has a rating of 100% on ‘rotten tomatoes’

11. Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan was Disney’s biggest hit after the release of Pocahontas, released at the No. 1 rank. Telling the story of a baby raised by apes, Tarzan went on to become its time’s most expensive movie and was the first Disney movie to be made into a video game. The animation team pioneered a new visual technique know as Deep Canvas, in which 2D characters can be inserted into a 3D background. Fast paced with stunning visual effects, this movie strayed away from the typical Disney stories, and became a great hit, winning an Academy award.

12. Finding Nemo (2003)

An adventurous and comic tale of a clown fish who swims half way around the world when his son Nemo, gets captured by divers. Our over protective dad, Marlin along with Dory, the fish with short term memory loss, go to Sydney looking for Nemo in this feature that is an all time favorite of all ages, making it the best selling DVD worldwide. The animation crew went diving in Hawaii to study the fish and the appearance of light underwater. Their earliest renders were rejected as being “too realistic” and they re-did the work to make it more cartoony. The film caused a huge surge in people buying aquariums and tropical fish as pets.

13. The Princess And The Frog (2009)

This movie marks Disney’s return to its traditional animation, drawing heavily on the styles of Bambi and Lady and the Tramp. With a simple story of a waitress who gets turned into a frog after kissing a prince that was cursed by an evil witch. The entire story revolves around her trying to get back into human form. This adaptation of ‘The Frog Princess’ was greatly liked by all, including three Academy Award nominations, and hence had to be on our list.

14. Tangled (2011)

The tale of Rapunzel takes a twist in this adaptation by Disney. Using CGI and non-photorealistic rendering, Tangled becomes a one of a kind movie. The film was named Tangled, rather than Rapunzel, to try to attract more male viewers than would normally see a ‘princess’ film. Being the most expensive animated movie that Disney ever made, it is visually stunning and witty in its approach, making it worth every penny spent. See if you can spot Pinoccio and Pumbaa in the background scenes!

15. Frozen (2013)

Being one of the most popular animated movies, Frozen just had to be on this list. This is the story of two sisters, Anna and Elsa who were handed over the kingdom of Arendelle, after their parent’s death. However on the coronation day, Elsa’s powers go out of hand causing her to run away, leaving her kingdom in a winter lockdown. This leads to a story of courage, bravery and most importantly, love. Frozen brought about a change in Disney’s writing, showing that you don’t need a prince charming to find your true love, and that the love that a family has for each other is the truest form you can find. Let this movie be ‘frozen’ onto your watch list, for your next movie night.

Did we miss out on your favorite movie? Comment below and let us know.

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How Studio Ghibli transformed AISFM for a week

Our Animation students teamed up with the Film Club for a film festival dedicated to movies from Studio Ghibli. And the fans came in droves.

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