Tune into TOONZ – The Fun Begins Here
Once upon a time, we all read comics. Many still do. Famous Disney characters, Bugs Bunny, The Road Runner, Daffy Duck, Tom and Jerry – hundreds of such lovable characters delighted one and all. These 'funnies' were antidotes for the depressed, helped sick children recuperate and great 'time pass' for the elderly. From the days of silent movies to computer generated life-like characters with amazing visual effects, the blend of creativity and technology has done wonders.
Colourful cutouts of animated characters greet you as one enters the sparse reception area of TOONZ Animation on the 7th floor of Nila building. If this extraordinarily setting isn't an adequate hint that one is in the midst of a creative environment, then pal, you're surely going over the hill. We are on time for our appointment at 2 in the afternoon and Maya Nair who heads Human Resources at TOONZ, is ready to receive us. No waiting, no fuss.
"I'm the first person to join TOONZ. That was in 1999. Today we are having 450 people working here." We look around. We could see just a handful. "We have around 18,000 sq. ft. space in this building," informs Maya and we then figured out where the rest might be. Interestingly, 40-50% of people at TOONZ are from different parts of India and abroad, with key people from the Philippines and the US. Incidentally, TOONZ belongs to Indian investors settled in the US and also happens to be a sister company of US Software, the largest software company within Technopark. "We are basically into 2-D animation. We take in artists, train them and then they are inducted into animation production," says Maya.
In a nutshell, Animation is all about bringing static images to life. Give it a script, create appropriate backdrops, and add technological innovations, you have a 'comic' on the screen. May sound simple, but really, lot more intricate than that. What's required are exceptional artistic ability and creativity, high quality drawing skills and technological skill sets to give the whole process 'life'.
TOONZ is basically into "making episodic series, commercials for outside clients and develop Indian folklore," says Maya. They are in the process of producing 26, 11-minute episodes of Tenali Raman, the inimitable court jester of the Vijayanagar King Krishnadeva Raya. Tenali Raman is a household name and with an overdose of westernized characters on cartoon channels; this Indian serial is bound to generate tremendous excitement.
TOONZ Animation, just three years old is already winning awards and accolades. A short film titled "Stone Crusher" produced for UNICEF won the first prize at the World Animation Celebrations 2000 in Los Angeles and two of the three Seagate Technical Awards for Excellence at the broadcast India 2002 Exhibition.
And when Tenali Raman hits the road, TOONZ Animation may well find itself on Cloud Nine.