Ananya Dhoundiyal interned with Xentrix Animation Studio and worked on ‘Batman–The Animated Series’. Ananya has completed her B.Sc. in Animation, and is now pursuing MBA from XIME. She shares her exciting internship story with us here.
Internship in an Animation Studio!
After 5th semester of my B.Sc. in Animation from Manipal University, it was finally time for the most exciting part. Time for internships! And at what better place than an animation studio itself. I gave an interview for the post of Production Assistant at Xentrix Studios and to my surprise, I was selected. What followed then was the pure learning. To work on real time projects in an actual animation studio was honestly a dream come true.
February 15, 2014. It was a big day. There were 8 other interns joining along with me. We were addressed by the HR of Xentrix and then asked to complete a few formalities. And then came the exciting part. Since I was interning as a Production Assistant, I was taken to the Assistant Producer. He told me that I was going to work for ‘Batman: The Animated Series’. I couldn’t stop smiling and couldn’t wait to get started!
The first question he asked me was, “What do you know about man days?” I tried remembering the answer I had learnt in college- “It’s the amount of time an artist spends on working on a particular scene that can be tracked in terms of man days.” He smiled. Bingo! But I wasn’t on my own yet. He asked me to work with the production coordinator for the first few days- four days to be precise. Luckily, the production coordinator was an extremely sweet lady! My department wasn’t finalized but she was kind enough to tell me my responsibilities:
• People management
I had to wait because I needed to know the entire process before delving into anything specific. So the production coordinator took me through all the steps required to make the actual animated movie. “We call it production pipeline,” she said. I was told that they had five major departments in their company. The first one was the Pre-production Department which dealt with the story, character and set development. This involved concept design of idea, storyboarding, developing characters and the environment of the scene. Second was the Assets Department. It dealt with modeling of the characters and sets. Third, was the Animation Department which dealt with the layout and animation, which included camera positioning, framing and movements. The fourth department was Finaling and CFX and I was eventually assigned this department. The Finaling team took care of the animation fixes. Artists worked on the animation shots and fixed small errors to complete the final animation shot. The CFX and Special Effects Department dealt with the cloth, hair and fur simulations. And then came the fifth department–Lighting and rendering (I had specialized in lighting and was hoping to get into this department earlier). Lighting defines the scene illumination and rendering the final computed image. What intrigued me the most was the exemplary amount of passion and dedication with which each artist worked here.
I was gradually introduced to the fact that there are various stages within each department and every department has its own constraints. The finer nuances of internal constraints like manpower and time, and external constraints relating to the clients were briefly explained. The inter-dependency between these departments while working on a project was also highlighted. For example the shots that aren’t animated cannot be moved to the next department for touch up. The fact that there are thousands of shots in one single episode–all of which have to be worked on by each department separately, opened a new phase of understanding of the concept of team work.
I got to learn a lot in a very short duration. I learnt to track man-days, raise issues when needed and communicate professionally with artists as well as the other officials of different departments. My duties also included attending meetings, assigning shots, being a part of the review team along with the team lead and the supervisor. But it wasn’t always this challenging. I had my share of moments, which I still laugh about. I vividly remember one incident when I was attending one of the meetings with the top management. Since I had no major, say in the matter I started doodling and gradually spaced out, I didn’t realize that everyone had left the room except me and the Line Producer (the guy I was reporting to). He called my name twice to transport me back to reality from my wonderland. He tried to keep a straight face but he ended up laughing. Suppressing his laughter he said, “You can’t afford to be lost in a production job.” And I realized that it was true because the very next day, when he couldn’t make it to the meeting, I had to brief everyone on what we did the previous day. Fortunately, I had taken his advice seriously and had written down the figures well in advance.
Interning at Xentrix taught me a lot of life lessons. I remember another incident when I had to ask a few people to work on a Saturday (which was otherwise a holiday) because they hadn’t finished their quota of work. I felt pathetic while saying it and one of the guys I said it to, figured that. He said he was planning to work on Saturday anyway. He asked me not to worry and smiled. Yes, he smiled even though he was asked to work on a Saturday! That’s something I’ll always remember. Also the fact that a smile can straighten many curves in life.
The learning saga at Xentrix was definitely a memorable one. I learnt the finer nuances of animation starting from fine-tuning my understanding on the different facets of production pipeline to using my technical skills in resolving problems. I had an exposure to the field of resource management, and an opportunity to hone my communication skills. It gave me a valuable insight to the management aspect of an animation company and proved to be a catalyst in my decision of doing an MBA, which I’m currently pursuing. Friendships, laughter, free lunches and extra pocket money made up for everything else! An Internship teaches you what college doesn’t. It teaches you everything you need to know!
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