Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013

SPOTLIGHT

ANIMATIONS AND MUCH MORE…

A clip from ‘Unsolved Stars’.

A clip from ‘Unsolved Stars’.

Animations are one of the most powerful of tools that can encapsulate real life images and portray them in the most beautiful manner possible. They are not just art in motion, but it is a form of art that moves human emotions as well. Although in recent times, Bangladesh has been floating in negative animosity, its youth has not failed to uphold the respect of the nation through various activities abroad. By winning Adfest Asia 2013, Md Kamruzzaman Ratan and Md Humaun Kabir Manik has given the animation industry of our country a new identity and hope to rise from ashes similar to the way the dying phoenix is reborn.

The youth will be encouraged to work in this field if more resources are made available to them. Photo: Nabil Khondokar

The youth will be encouraged to work in this field if more resources are made available to them. Photo: Nabil Khondokar

As we opt to understand animation a little better, we are likely to find that the word animation stems from the Latin word, ‘Animatio’, which means bringing to life. The concept was popularised in the 20th century — an era marked for the production of animated films. Individual frames of photographs of drawings are first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it. The animator’s drawings are traced or photocopied onto transparent acetate sheet which are filled in with paints in assigned colours or tones on the side opposite the line drawings.

However, in the 21st century, traditional animation became obsolete and was replaced by computer animation, where drawings and the backgrounds are either scanned into or drawn directly into a computer system.

Principles of animation must be taught to students who want to study animation. Photo: Nabil Khondokar

Principles of animation must be taught to students who want to study animation. Photo: Nabil Khondokar

The idea of animations was further enhanced with the introduction of 3D animation. According to online sources, 3D is digitally modeled and manipulated by an animator. Today, this technique is commonly used in Hollywood for making masterpiece films like Life of Pi, an adaptation of the book by Yann Martel. The young movie goers in Bangladesh are in awe of the special effects and the animation used in this movie. Zana Khan, an English major from East West University says, “The 3D movie was really good. We should have such productions done in our country. I know it is a far-fetched idea but we are hopeful about seeing something similar in the area of animation cartoons at least.”

Animation companies are doing great which can further enhance this industry in Bangladesh  Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

Animation companies are doing great which can further enhance this industry in Bangladesh Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

Animations have made its place in the world market, yet in the Bangladeshi context, it has a long way to go. It is still flourishing and very few young people are encouraged to work in this field due to limited resources. “Animations are not easily marketable in our country. The budgets that televisions have for animations are very low as compared to fictions. There is a demand for children’s cartoon but the funds are scarce,” says Mohammad Solaiman, Executive Director of Cartoon Bangladesh. “We made an animation called ‘Jomidar o Dakat er Golpo’ for Eid last year. It was aired on Ntv and was later nominated for the Meena Media Awards 2012,” adds Solaiman.

A production by Dreamer Donkey. Photo: courtesy

A production by Dreamer Donkey. Photo: courtesy

‘Unsolved Stars’ which won the Adfest Award. Photos: Manik N Ratan

‘Unsolved Stars’ which won the Adfest Award. Photos: Manik N Ratan

Dreamer Donkey, another organisation which makes animations in Bangladesh, has been training newcomers interested to work in this field. They plan on introducing a one year diploma in animations, since there is no formal education available in our country in this subject. Any young person who comes to work in Dreamers Donkey is first trained for two to three months. In these few months three main topics of animation are taught. They start with free drawing, after which they learn to use the software Adobe Flash, used to make animations. And lastly, they learn the principles of animations. A majority of the students who come to work in Dreamers Donkey are current or ex-students of the Faculty of Fine Arts. Even though, the organisation is only a year old, it has trained almost 10-12 students so far.

Tawfiq Ahmed Anwar, Animations Director of the organisation says, “I have been very successful with my work so far, having also worked with UNICEF’s Meena as an Animation Supervisor. Right now, my company is making ‘Bholar Bahaduri’ which is a 26 episode animation. It will be aired on SATV soon.”

The area of Animations is not a dying industry in our country. “Advertising agencies and NGOs are looking forward to working with animations,” adds Anwar. “We have worked with a number of organisations like Nestle, a nutrition, health and wellness company, for their Maggie Noodles product and Grey, an advertising agency. We have also worked with telecommunation companies like Banglalink and GrameenPhone,” adds Anwar.

More young people will be interested in studying about animation if profitable resources are made available to them. Inspirations like Manik and Ratan are there, all that is needed is the gate of opportunity to open.

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A Close-Up with the Dynamic Duos
Manik and Ratan, the identical twin duo has been inseparable through out their school, college and university lives. Since their father was a government Engineer, they studied in eight different schools in Jessore, Faridpur and Dhaka. They both graduated in Graphic Design from Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology and are now studying Animation in Limkokwing University, Malaysia.

The two started cartooning in Unmad Cartoon magazine when they were in Class 8. And later they worked for Bhorer Kagoj, Prothom Alo and The Daily Star newspaper. In Rising Stars they started a comic series ‘Funkoo & Rocko’ under the name Manik n Ratan. Then, they made their first animated short film ‘Tui Rajakar’ for a class project in 2008. It was based on the liberation war. The second short film was a parody of Bangla film. The comic short film ‘Aula Laaga’ was also made in 2008 as a class project and after a long gap; this year they made the short film ‘Unsolved Stars’. The duo did not have any plans of becoming animators; they had always wanted to be filmmakers.

A talk moderated by John Park, a famous Korean film Director. Photos: Courtesy

A talk moderated by John Park, a famous Korean film Director. Photos: Courtesy

Adfest Asia, the biggest advertising festival in Asia Pacific calls for scripts every year from new directors for a five minute short film based on a particular theme. “This year’s theme was ‘Connect the Dots’,” says Manik. “Judges chose four best scripts out of the many that were submitted; Ratan’s was one of the best. The real challenge was to make a short film on the script within 20 days. All the four short films were screened on the festival day and judges chose the best one out of them- ‘Unsolved Stars’,” states Manik.

Previously, Manik and Ratan participated in the Adfest in 2011.  In 2012, Manik’s script was selected as one of the top four in ‘Fabulous Four’, after which they made a short film ‘A Strange Life’ for the second round. Unfortunately, the film did not win, but they tried again the next year.

This year, they thought of a story about a child’s fantasy and father-son relations. They tried to connect the two ideas and come up with the story of ‘Unsolved Stars’.

When asked about their trademark style, “I think we are amateurs and we need time to create a trademark style of our own. But we like 2D animation more than 3D. The 2D animation is like classical animation with hand drawn colours. So we love the concept of blending hand drawn cartoons with modern animation technique,” explains Manik and Ratan.

Award given by Jimmy Lam, President of Adfest. Photos: Courtesy

Award given by Jimmy Lam, President of Adfest. Photos: Courtesy

“There are few animation studios in Bangladesh and they are doing really well,” asserts Manik. “But they’re more into outsourcing. There are some young talents who are experts in 3D animation and CG art, but somehow they do not prefer making animation film project. They are more into title animation, advertising product animation or special effects projects,” says Manik.

Milu Aman, Scriptwriter of ‘Unsolved Stars’ gives a version of how he came to work with the twins. “Manik and Ratan came to me with several stories. I told them that they were known for making brilliant animations and they needed a story that would best fit the genre of animations,” says Aman. “So the story line of ‘Unsolved Stars’ came about,” he adds.