Aptech going global! What about India?

This isn’t a rant against any particular institute but a general comment on our severely handicapped animation education system. With schools that claim to point their magic wand at ordinary mortals and turn them into animation geniuses proliferating all across the country, I shudder to think of what level of artistry and skill our so called talent pool will have in times to come. The poor, unsuspecting souls who enroll for most of these courses are no more than cannon-fodder for behemoth animation ‘schools’ riding on the wave of the global animation boom.

What triggered this tirade? I just read this press release announcing Aptech’s global expansion:

Aptech Global Learning Solutions announced today that it will open its first animation training academy in Brazil in May.

“The centre in Brazil will start functioning within three weeks. We have decided to open 35 new centres in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Russia and Vietnam this fiscal. These centres will be a combination of Arena Animation Academy and Aptech Computer Education training institutes,” Aptech executive director R. Krishnan told IANS.

“We will also be expanding nationally. New centres will be opened this year at Cuttack, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, Durgapur, Guwahati and Dibrugarh,” he added.

The course content for the two academies is also going to change from May.

Krishnan said: “With animation and computer training institutes mushrooming everywhere, we are focussing on how our students can get faster and better jobs. We will introduce some new modules and methodologies.”

…focus on faster and better jobs? How about focusing on creating better animators? How about exposing our budding animators to world class global animation? How about giving them more well-rounded training in every aspect of the animation business? Getting the job is NOT the be all and end all of it. How about being prepared for and performing well on the job?

“We have introduced a specialised demo reel making module in the syllabus this year. Earlier, the demo reel was just a part of the curriculum. Now this demo reel will act as the portfolio of a student.”

The Demo Reel seems to be the Holy Grail of all aspiring animators. You get that right and a glorious job will fall into your lap, is what most animation students are led to believe. Sadly, it isn’t enough. Yes, a demo reel will get your foot in the door but then what?

Our Animation education system only seems to be churning out robots. We are mass producing tool-wielding technicians, not creative artists who are masters of their tools. Where are the visionaries? Where are the wildly creative artists who will push the envelope and breach boundaries to come up with original ideas and imaginative visual styles?

All companies need to grow and expand, so it isn’t surprising that our training institutes are also branching out globally. But when our own system is so sorely lacking, are we equipped to go teach the world?

There are 4 comments

  1. Anirudh

    Animation education in India is a joke. They are not interested in teaching Animation, but just to earn money thanks to the current animation boom. And i feel like a joke, that Aptech can even think about teaching the world, when in its own country the training is below average.

    All these so called Animation institutes like Aptech and so on, know nuts about what Animation actually is.

    But i feel you missing the point in your observation. You said Demo Reel is not the end of everything, i disagree to an extent. Thats one way of looking at it. But if a Demo Reel is good, there is no reason that person doesn’t deserve the job, as if he can make a good Demo Reel he certainly have the potential to do well if he gets the job. But here is the catch, plagiarism is rampant in our country unfortunately, and thats the reason many studios in India have a technical test. As to whether they are in the right direction of conducting a technical test thats another debatable topic for some other time.

    And also, to be very frank, the demo reels of students coming out of these institutes is nothing to boast about. In fact there is a lot left to be desired. Out of 100 students, i doubt whether more than 10 are really equipped to handle the real production environment in all aspects. We cant blame the students, its the management of these institutes who are responsible for the pathetic state of skills shortage. They are not willing to have a proper curriculum. All they focussed is on teaching the “software”. But they are forgetting its not the software, its the art. Animation is not learning the software, its about learning the craft of the art.

    I hope they realize sooner than before.

  2. akshata

    Thanks for your comments, Anirudh. I did not say that the Demo Reel means nothing, rather, I said that the Demo Reel isn’t EVERYTHING!
    What I meant by that is that when a student works on a demo reel, he is working in isolation, not as part of a team, not on the same kind of deadlines, not with the same kind of team dynamics that he or she will have to adapt to in a studio environment.
    A good demo reel is no doubt an asset, but like I said, it is just the foot in the door. Our institutes need to also prepare the students for what comes next so that they don’t get caught unawares.
    All said and done, there is too much lacking and too less time. If we want to make a mark in the world of animation, an honest introspection and expeditious action by the institutes is needed, else we shall remain stuck in a rut for a long, long time.

  3. Divya

    I did a year long course in Arena Multimedia,but even after doing it I do not feel confident enough to make a demo reel on my own.there were no sessions taken on how to make a demo reel or what is the quality of a good demo reel. As a student who wants to know more about the field of multimedia,who wants to have a deep rooted knowledge about how things work in a production environment, what should I do. After having spent so much on the course I have feeling that I have not done justice to the amount I have spent.Wherever I go, People are asking for a demo reel and I don’t have one ready.

  4. Aditya

    Well i was associated with Arena animation before i parted my ways to another insitute.i feel that now they are heading in the right direction by focusing more over skill based training then tool based training all crammed into one one diploma.

    The demo reel is cetainly not everything but surely the last thing and so the most imp when it comes to a selection criteria for skills or a job.Hence it may not be everything but for all the reasons its all the thing u know or can exceute as a rigger modeller or texture/light artist.

    Well the strategy to start a seperate course for demo reel is beyond my understanding ? is it supposed to be new money spinner for insitution or they simply want to say that after all the effort u put into learning the skill u need to invest more money and time with us to dream for a demo reel.

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