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Mr. Madan Pania : President - The Society for Animation in Delhi (SAID)

Posted By : Mukesh Dube    At 23-05-2013 21:32:35


Tags : Madan Pania    President    SAID    

Tell us little bit about who you are? Who do you work for? What is your job profile?

A former civil servant, I retired voluntarily in November 2005 to put life into my graphics.  By academics, I am a post-graduate in Commerce from the SRCC, Delhi Univ, and a MBA in Corporate Communications and Financial Management from MDI, Gurgaon.  My entry into the field of fine arts was as a musician from my college days in 1974, when I used to play the Hawaiian Guitar and Flute.  Self-taught in the arts, I now play a number of musical instruments, enjoy singing and mix these talents with my own motion graphics.  I have my own animation, film and audio production studio, where I work on almost all aspects of animation, filmmaking, multimedia and corporates, from scripting to final mastering.  I have a team of 7 people working in my studio.

Since how long you have been working in the animation industry?

I have grown with the animation industry in India  - since 1996, when it was in its initial labour pains, through its teething problems, to its maturing to “adolescence” from the start of this millennium and also its cyclical “moods” (downswings) every second-third year.  I am still nostalgic about those days when 3DS and Animator Pro were in their DOS days and Macromedia was perhaps developing Flash 1.

Tell us something about SAID?

The Society for Animation in Delhi is a non-profit, voluntary organization of passionate animators registered under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860, since February 2, 2010. It is managed by a democratically elected Governing Council.  It focuses on production – creation of IPR – in terms of quality, quantity and stature, to take animation to mature viewership and cartoons beyond kids.  We are animators in motion, working to integrate the industry and its verticals.  The industry is still in its “adolescent” stage, waiting for a united voice to structure it and usher in standards and best practices for production to thrive and make business sense.  That is the voice, work and support we seek to give the industry.  SAID is aware that this means enormous amount of work, effort and co-operation.  But we do have a dedicated team that is passionately and voluntarily taking baby steps, promising to translate these dreams into reality.

Tell us something about SAID’s upcoming event “Gurumantra”?

In SAID’s quest for excellence and best practices in animation, the GURUMANTRA is a series of interactive sessions where learners and professionals come face to face with “home-gown” industry experts to sharpen their learning experiences on select topics of interest in production of animation and IPR.  It is neither a training session nor a master class, but a notch above these where “interaction” forms the basis of discussing the selected topic.  GURUMANTRA 3 will focus on Animation Production for TV and Films.  It has two sessions of one-and-a-half hour each.  The first is on “Creativity” which will be mentored by legendry creative Guru, Prof. Subodh Lal, Chairman AKS Media, former Executive President ZEE TV, jointly with independent Animator Tejendra Sharma, who has a rich background of working with Disney.  The second session is on “Techniques and Technicalities”, which will be mentored by Sharad Mittal, Founder CEO of Kathputli Arts and Films. 

From this third in the series of interactive sessions we are also introducing MOMs – Moments of Mementos – which are recognition for international excellence in animation. 
Two of these “moments” go to Divya Gupta, team member of the OSCAR winning animation film, HUGO, and Varun Mehta, for his international award winning short animation film “The Unknown World”.  Both will be present to grace the occasion.  Mr. Biswajit Das, Vice President, Frameboxx, has also kindly consented to grace the occasion.

What is Mehfil-e-Animation..any specific  idea behind this name?

The Mehfil-e-Animation is a unique and regular meeting of SAID’s members ONLY.  It is a late-Saturday-evening get-together, where a choice animation film is screened on a large projection over dinner, and critical discussion on its subject and technique goes late into the night.  Any member, who wishes to display his or her showreel, is also encouraged to do so.  The logic behind the name stems from the idea of traditional “nawabi-style” settings, where all furniture from the screening room is removed and all of us sit on the floor decorated as a “Mehfil”.  Since the informal talk on the occasion is entirely about animation, we call it the Mehfil-e-Animation.

What is your opinion about Animation growth & market in India?

The animation market is certainly growing, and there is a lot of work to do.  It has started permeating every sector of the economy, transcending all barriers of caste, creed, sex, religion, place of birth, language, etc.  2008 was perhaps a watershed year in the animation industry.  Excellent animation productions have entered distribution channels and viewership is warming up to be a mature audience.  The launch of Tripura, Chhota Bheem, Arjun, Krishna aur Kans, etc point to the rise of Indian animation.  New specialized segments have also started emerging and growing – architectural walkthrough, VFX, gaming, medical and health care, simulations, assembly line animations – are only a few examples. But, despite a well-publicized dream CAGR, we still have too many gaps.  Income and investment still don’t get attracted to make business sense for those who wish to create IPR and animation assets.  We come across so many examples of animators’ entry by passion and exit by depression.  Peter is still getting robbed to pay Paul. 

We do experience downswings regularly almost every two-three years.  Different stakeholders in the industry are encroaching on each other’s domains.  It is not difficult to see the lack of standards and certification systems.  Job seekers often lack the quality and inspiration to find placements in meaningful and secure jobs.  Support systems with social and economic security are still far from being formed and institutionalized.  These are very essential for a healthy industry that can grow, mature and sustain itself.  But there is hope.  The promise of creativity reaching its zenith cannot be overlooked.  Indian animation CAN and WILL certainly reach the heights of international supremacy, once these gaps start getting filled.

What inspired you to choose a career in animation industry? How did you go about pursuing it?

ART.  I was born an artist, a musician and a pencil sketcher, but in an era when performing arts were socially considered menial.  I never looked upon art and creativity as a career, though I did perform professionally quite frequently.  I took on the Civil Service examination, and cracked it not only for my bread and butter, but also to convince myself that nothing succeeds like success, and keep pursuing my passion of art.  When computers acquired multimedia capabilities my other passion of sketching took a new shape to mesh with my talent for music. I didn’t learn these anywhere, but taught myself.  I bought lots of books and manuals to learn the tricks that graphics can play when combined with music.  I practiced the lessons for hours spending all my “free” time on giving vent to my passions. 

My first real exposure to multimedia and animation was at the National Informatics Center (NIC) in its short course on Multimedia Applications in November 1995.  Ten years of independent study, practice and live projects finally helped me to decide to take the plunge.  With an early “second innings” in mind, I left the Civil Service, and did an eight-month DAMAVE (Diploma in Animation, Multimedia and Video Editing) from Caba Innovatives, New Delhi.  That did a lot of good to me, building my confidence in what I had learnt and practiced through the preceding decade.  Let me confess, I did not have to look for work too much in my second innings, and I have never marketed my organization or myself.  Exposure of my work almost always brought back the old as well as new clients.  Yes, there have been moments of struggle and disappointment to satisfy clients, but it is their demands that helped me to adopt “course corrections”.

What would you advise to the people, who wish to choose ANIMATION as a career?

Please share your best practices that can be helpful to freshers. I have always stressed on passion – to be able to walk that extra mile and stand out with your creativity.  I personally feel it is not a job.  It is a passion.  And only that passion can bring out the best quality in you.  It is not sufficient to know the tools that softwares give.  Go beyond that.  Learn.  Teach yourself.  Keep experimenting.  Adopt the best audio-visual ways to tell your stories, if you are working for yourself, doing your own productions.  If you are working on productions for clients, empathize with their subjects.  Success lies in the “meat” that you bring to the stories, not in the ability to use the latest hardware and software tools.  Remember, ART has no rules.  Rules are for tools.  Until and unless you LOVE and adore your own creation, it is impossible that others will like it.  You HAVE TO dream animation, sleep animation, walk animation, talk animation, and work animation.  But above all YOU ACHIEVE ONLY IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO WHAT YOU DREAM.

Do you conduct any kind of seminars or workshops? What sort of events and seminars would you recommend?

I have been circulating as guest speaker in various fora and institutions.  Personally I don’t conduct them.  But I love to share knowledge, and FREE.  And I always encourage that, without fear that the other will become better than me.  If he does become better, I will have a better Arjun than Dronacharya had, and perhaps help me become still better.  The process of learning never ends.  I would recommend animators to attend those events, seminars and workshops that not only help to sharpen your tool-using skills, but more importantly, help you to tell your “story” in better and better ways each time, improve your quality as an animator.  You can use the same tools and skills over and over again, but you can’t “show” every story the same visual way every time.  A tool can tell you how to create water, but can’t tell you how to splash it in millions of ways, or whether it needs to be splashed. Try to attend those award functions for animators to know who won and why.

Unfortunately, I find that Animators don’t really attend events that drive animation.  And for those who attend, there is a difference between “hearing” and “listening”.  ANIFEST held by TASI every year, is something I have never missed in the last five years.  It does so much to keep my passion, creative sense and inspiration alive.  It has also brought about contacts from all over the world.  SAID’s events also focus on these aspects, which we keep organizing from time to time.

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