Published: 01st May 2019
Why B S Srinivas is the baap of animation education in the Bengaluru 'arena'
B S Srinivas talks about his journey in the animation industry and why jobs will only continue to increase in the sector
B S Srinivas, the Director of Arena Animation centres in Malleshwaram and Rajajinagar, is a man who believes in the right kind of leadership. An entrepreneur, he has struggled for over 20 years in making his institute the brand it is today. His contribution is not limited to building his institute — but to create word-class animators who work on some of the most amazing VFX and graphics work ever.
Srinivas is the Secretary of ABAI, a non-profit trade organisation supported by the Karnataka government. It works towards skill development and growth in the animation, VFX and games sector. He says, "We set up digital art centres in colleges and train students to use software for digital art and painting. Apart from this, we have a programme for start-ups, supported by the Government of Karnataka. Here, several start-ups can pitch their ideas. If they are worth taking forward, then the government funds them."
Their other big initiative is the Bengaluru GAFX Conference which is probably the country's biggest event for artists of Animation, VFX and Computer Graphics, he explains. It is basically a community event where panel discussions, conferences, screening of movies etc take place.
Excerpts from an interview:
When did your journey with Arena Animation start and how has it been so far?
We were the first in the country to open the institute and launch courses related to animation, VFX and graphics in the mid-90s. Back then, animation was hardly heard about in India. I still remember how we went door-to-door to tell people about the course that we had launched and create awareness about the animation industry. We asked parents if there was a child who was into drawing or painting and advised them to take up this course. While some people would listen to us patiently, others would just not speak to us. As more animated movies started hitting screens, things changed. Earlier, people were a little skeptical about the future of the industry and their children. But now, the scenario has changed. Animation, VFX, game design and graphic design jobs can earn more than the people who are into engineering or medicine. Having spent over 20 years building this industry, I can say that we don't have to struggle to convince parents or students now.
Exam time: Students give their exams online across the state
Do you get students from every part of India wanting to study here?
Not just India, we get students from across the world who come here to study digital painting, gaming and graphic designing. Apart from the metro cities in India, we mostly get students from Tier II and Tier III cities and towns. Here, art is very dominant and we find very good sculptors and artists. They come to get good exposure and enhance their skills through digital technology.
What are the new courses that you have launched lately?
This April, we announced a BSc degree in Graphics and VFX in collaboration with Jain University. Arena is the only institution to offer this degree. Students who have passed their class XII from any stream can join this degree. While the classes happen in centres, exams take place in Jain University. The curriculum includes a detailed study of graphics and VFX.
Is it necessary to complete class XII to take up diploma courses in animation?
One of the advantages of this industry is that it is a skill-based industry and we don't look at the academic qualifications. If you have an inclination towards art, drawing and painting, then you can take up the course. Even a Class XII or a drop-out can take up the course. Here, people are not judged on the basis of marks but they look at the talent, how skilled you are and the extraordinary art you have created.
Great Alumni: Over 20,000 students have passed out from the Arena Animation in Malleshwaram and Rajajinagar
What are some of the success stories from your institute?
The response from our students has been awesome. A few of our students have worked in Hollywood blockbusters like The Jungle Book and The Lion King. In fact, most of the animation work and VFX in Hollywood movies get done in the studios in Bengaluru. Hence, unofficially, this city is the animation capital of the country. Not just movies, our alumni have also worked on several advertisements and games.
So, what's next? Technology is constantly evolving
Already, we have started working with technology like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Going forward, we will implement new things that will revolutionise the market. We have always been the first in the industry to introduce new aspects and elements in animation.
Isn't the scope for animation way better now?
There has always been a tremendous scope for animation courses. As an educational institution, we have survived for 20 years and its not an easy task. Over 20,000 students have passed out. Currently, the animation industry is growing at 17 per cent CAGR which is very decent. Be it Baahubali or 2.0, every film has VFX effects in it.
And are jobs easy to come by?
In the last 20 years, placement has never been an issue. If placements would not have happened, then students would complain but every person is out there having a good job and earning good money. From the beginning, companies have come to us to recruit students rather than our approaching them.