Paritosh Singh – Animating Indianness: A study of assimilating Indian images in a western narrative

1            Introduction

Stories have always been an integral part of every society and culture. Storytelling is the most common means of sharing experiences. It majorly influences various aspects of our life and plays a vital role in defining our values, desires and dreams. Stories can be considered as universal since they bridge the gaps between different cultures, languages and ages (Atta-Alla 2012). They also provide a tool for transferring knowledge in social context and can be used as a method to teach ethics, values and cultural norms (Davidson, 2004). In this continuously evolving process, animation is emerging as a very powerful tool for storytelling with immense scope of further exploration. Although it appears to be full of technology, its basic principles can be traced back to the primitive human era. From those times, attempts to capture the motion drawing or animation can be found in various cave paintings like Bhimbetka in India, where animals are depicted in superimposed positions with multiple legs, trying to convey the perception of motion. Similarly, from centuries, puppets are being used for entertainment and to communicate various ideas and needs of human societies. If we look at the Indian history, tribal arts provide various examples of animation like in Warli tribal art characters are shown in different walking cycles to depict the motion of dancing, etc. The styles and characteristics of scroll paintings of Patua resemble storyboards where drawings are made in a series and they are very favourable to be animated (, 2017b).

2            Animation in India

The credit of exploring the animation in India goes to the father of Indian cinema, Dhundiraj Govind “Dadasaheb” Phalke. He tried his first animation attempt The Growth of Pea Plant using stop motion in 1912. But it was never released. Later in 1915, he released Agkadyanchi Mouj (Matchsticks’ Fun) which is known as the first animated film in India. Later on, he created more animation films like Laxmicha Galicha and Vichitra Shilpa. He inspired lots of people with his work and others also started involving in the animation film making. In 1934, the first animated movie The Pea Brothers directed by Gunamoy Banerjee, released in the theatres. Also in the same year the first animated film with a soundtrack, On a Moonlight Night was produced. It’s credited to composer and orchestra leader R.C. Boral. This new technique of film making started becoming popular and few other films were released in the coming years like Lafanga Langoor (1935), produced by Mohan Bhavani, Superman Myth (1939), directed by G.K. Gokhale and produced by Indian Cartoon Pictures, and Cinema Kadampam (1947), supervised by N. Thanu. During this time even the most famous Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray started an experiment on rough visual presentation of film which is now called as story-boarding. He also developed some rough techniques of stop-motion animation by moving and capturing matchbox sticks frame by frame (, 2017a). Later on, Indian animation witnessed a series of turning points, which became the crucial trigger in defining the current state of animation industry in India.

2.1        Clair Weeks and The Banyan Deer

During the time of India’s independence, although united in freedom, the country was divided by language, religion and caste across a huge landmass. In that era, animation was seen as a medium of great potential which can reach out to the citizens to tackle the issues like population control, voting rights, women’s empowerment, cleanliness, literacy, education, etc. A special Cartoon Unit for animation was established at the Films Division in 1945. Through the UNESCO and the U.S. Technical Aid Program an ex-Disney animator Clair Weeks was brought to the Films Division in 1956 to train a group of animators. Clair Weeks was born in India as the son of a Methodist missionary. He spent 16 years at the Disney Studios, working on famous animation films like Snow White, Bambi and Peter Pan. The people trained by him, including the famous Ram Mohan, Bhimsain, and the late Kantilal Rathod, contributed a lot to the animation industry in India (, 2017). The first film that came out of this first breed of animators trained by Clair weeks was The Banyan Deer. Its story was a Buddhist Jataka tale. The Jatakas are popular stories that make the Buddha’s teaching more accessible to the common man. This story was chosen since its roots lies in India and the visual inspiration can be taken from the popular cave paintings at Ajanta. The Ajanta caves contain detailed and amazingly beautiful pictorial representations of the life of the Buddha and all of the Jatakas. In the tale of The Banyan Deer, the Buddha takes an avatar of a noble deer. Initially, it was decided to use the beautiful and peculiar animal figure representations available in the paintings at Ajanta while designing the character of The Banyan Deer. When Clair Weeks came to India, he brought a lot of material from his previous Disney films. It also includes the model sheets from the well-known film Bambi whose protagonist is also a deer. Clair helped a lot in teaching the Indian animators about the area of character design, storyboarding and the rules of classical animation. The model sheets from Bambi are used extensively to instruct for the same. The greatest challenge that appeared in front of the Indian animators was to adapt the imagery of Ajanta paintings with the rules of classical animation. When the production of this film completed, it gained huge popularity in the media and among the audience. Clair Weeks successfully completed the task to establish an animation team, which is able to handle the production on its own for the many more films to come. But if this film is analysed from the point of view of whether it was able to define the Indian animation style of its own, then it completely failed in doing so. Even the father of Indian animation, Ram Mohan quoted, “The Banyan Deer was supposed to be the representation of the Bodhisattva and instead ended up being the avatar of Bambi (Ranade, 2009).” This animation film just ended up being another western animation work in the Disney style made by the Indian animators. Even the main character of the film looks more influenced from Bambi as compared to the Ajanta paintings. This can be considered as the crucial point in the history of Indian animation, which hugely affected the mindset of coming generations of Indian animators. From that point onwards, people blindly started following the western styles and hardly tried to create the style of its own which can be called Indian.

2.2        Ramayan: The Legend of Prince Rama

In 90s, the TV serials based on Hindu mythology used to be very popular among the Indian household. At the same time, Ram Mohan along with the Japanese filmmaker Yugo Sako directed Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama. Released in 1992, this Indo-Japanese traditional animation feature film is based on the Indian epic the Ramayana. During the starting of production, Ramayana being a very sensitive subject didn’t get the permission to be animated by the Government of India. So Yugo Sako decided to do it as a complete Japanese production under the co-direction and supervision of Ram Mohan. Even though they faced resistance from Indian government, the film was well accepted abroad. It was screened as the opening film of the 2000 Lucca Animation Film Festival in Italy and won the Best Animation Film of the Year at the 2000 Santa Clarita International Film Festival in the United States (, 2017). The film wasn’t distributed properly in theatres in India initially but the DVD version helped popularise it. Also, it was only after Cartoon Network screened it that it caught on (, 2017). The visual treatment of this film fascinated the Indian audience, since it’s something new for them at that time. The complete animation of this film is done by the Japanese animators. They worked very hard to incorporate the Indian looks, clothing and gestures in the film. But as Ram Mohan himself noted, it is neither a Japanese Ramayana nor an Indian Ramayana. It is a sort of general Ramayana targeted for the global audience. With reference to the characters in Japanese anime style, Lord Ram is also portrayed with muscular and well-toned body. But in the Indian paintings, he is always illustrated with the body similar to the common man. Similarly, the body proportion for other characters like Sita, Laxman, etc is also exaggerated to match the ideal human proportion. One of the distinguishing features of the Japanese anime is the structure of the eyes. The same eye format is used in this version of Ramayana as well, whereas the structure of eyes in Indian paintings is often long and sharp. Even though this film was not able to establish an Indian visual style, but it was able to show the great potential of Indian mythology as the subject for animation. The government also became aware that animation is not just about creating cartoons and generating humour. Even the sensitive topics can be animated if presented properly. The spark generated by this film for the mythology still exists and lots of Indian animators are exploring this subject for making animated films. Lots of other animation films have released in the last decade on the theme of Hindu mythology like Hanuman, Ramayana the Epic, Bal Ganesh, Chhota Bheem, Krishna aur Kans, Arjun The Warrior Prince, etc. It is good that people are exploring original Indian stories for the animation but they failed to realize that just with the story they can’t call a film as a true Indian animation film. For the Ram Mohan’s Ramayana the case is different – it was made by Japanese animators. The current breed of Indian animators need not keep following the same style. Along with the story, they should put more thinking while designing the visual language of the film.

2.3        Roadside Romeo

The first Indian 3D animated film Roadside Romeo was released in 2008. It was directed by Jugal Hansraj and co-produced by Aditya Chopra and Yash Chopra of Yash Raj Films and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in India and United States. The alliance by producer Yash Chopra and Disney Chairman Dick Cook was the first of a kind in the field of Indian animation. The plot of the film revolves around the gang of street dogs in Mumbai. This film was one giant leap in terms of the 3D animation techniques and the amount of detailing ever used in India. It served as a great example to showcase the potential of Indian animators in creating world-class animations in terms of visual quality. But on perceiving it from the holistic approach, it appears that dealing with the technicalities of 3D animation is predominantly emphasized during production. Initially, they seem to put some thought over the story by looking beyond the mythological theme in Indian animation. But contrary to exploring it much further, they ended up reiterating the same old romantic drama, which has been presented to the Indian audience abundantly in live action Bollywood movies, although a layer of distinction is added by replacing human characters with the dogs. But it seems like a forced attempt of amalgamating the story with animation genre. While viewing it from the lens of an attempt to create Indian own animation style, it appears that this direction of thought never made it to any stage of planning process. The anatomy, colour, texture and facial expressions along with the details like eyes, ears and the ways of distinguishing male and female characters can be easily referenced to the characters in western animation movies. The backgrounds and colour scheme also fails to establish the spatial context of Indian scenarios and ends up depicting the western demography. The initiatives like this film are good for bringing new technology in the field of Indian animation. It helps in keeping sync with the global standards on the technical grounds of animation. But at the same time, such practices also keep revealing the crisis of Indian identity in the perspective of global platform where the representation is not limited by the approach of particular nation or region.

2.4        Challenges

In 2016, the inflow of projects from international television patrons drove the Indian animation services space while animation services for international films also witnesses a healthy increase. Together, revenues from outsourced television and film projects accounted for around 85% of the total animation services market in India. Conversely, the domestic animation services market remained tepid. Going forward also the trend is likely to continue the same, as growth will come from internationally commissioned projects (KPMG, 2017). This is the current situation which – if not handled with the right approach – could lead to scenarios like that of Clair Weeks. In such scenario, while keeping up with the technical standards of animation, we forget to create our own identity. And in the currently booming global animation industry, if such influences keep prevailing, then even though the Indian animation industry grows, it will lead to the situation of cultural colonialism. Cultural colonialism is the slow creeping replacement of a native culture by foreign culture with economic expansion often without intent. Such situation will just convert this place into a source for providing labour to the outsourced work. Instead of looking animation as another money-generating industry, there needs to be enough space for the emerging animators to keep doing experimentation instead of blindly following the global trend.

3            Indian Vernacular Art

The Indian culture, particularly the art, is characterized by a definite unity and continuity, though it has gone through lots of changes in the past. Even in the middle of diverse languages, religions, festivals and traditions, the rich heritage of this culture survived. Art in India has always been inspired by spiritualism and mystical relationship between human and god. Indian artists majorly draw inspiration from religious scriptures. Since there has never been much of the restriction on artists, they flourished under the patronage of different rulers. Art in India had survived in its homeland and spread from time to time all over the world. Along with serving as a decorating material, some of these art forms even served as a medium for storytelling through visual narratives.

3.1        Murals of Ajanta

2nd century BC is considered as the most significant era of cave paintings. From that era, the most popular Ajanta caves in Maharashtra can be considered as the ancient art galleries. The walls of these caves are full of paintings covering the stories of Buddhism, Buddha’s life and his teachings called Jatakas spanning over a period from 200 BC to 650 AD. The Ajanta murals portray Jataka tales in the form of dramas and dance in narrative order, so that people walking through the caves would learn the stories. Unlike much Indian painting, compositions are not laid out in horizontal compartments like a frieze, but show large scenes spreading in all directions from a single figure or group at the centre.

3.2        Kaavad

Kaavad Banchana is a 400-year-old oral tradition of storytelling in Rajasthan where stories from the Puranas and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana are told along with stories from the folk tradition. The complete experience is audio-visual as the storytelling is accompanied by the Kaavad shrine. The Kaavad is a portable wooden temple that has visual narratives on its multiple panels hinged together. These panels open and close like doors simulating the several thresholds of a temple. These portable Kaavads come to the devotees rather than the devotees going to the temple. The storyteller, known as the Kaavadiya Bhat, periodically brings the shrine to his patrons’ houses and recites their genealogy and sing praises of their ancestors. He also recites the stories related to the patron saint of the community. It is believed that listening to stories purifies the soul and reserves a place of entry for the devotee in heaven (Sabnani 2009).

3.3        Patua

The Patua are a unique community found in the state of West Bengal, although their traditional occupation is the painting and modelling of Hindu idols, yet many of them are Muslims. Patuas are also known as Patigar or Chitrakar, which literally means a scroll painter (Siddiqui, 2004). The Patuas go from house to house in village with their bags of scrolls. They narrate stories while unrolling the scrolls. To make a scroll, the patua begins with sewing the pieces of paper, which is then rolled to make it conform to the proper shape. The individual frames are demarcated with decorative borders that disguise the seams between papers. Traditionally, the scroll painters use available plants and minerals to make pigments for the paintings. The gum of the bel (wood apple) fruit acts as a fixative and the brushes are made out of goat and squirrel hair. Usually the dark outlines are added at the end of the painting process. Cloth from old sari is adhered to the back to strengthen the seams.

3.4        Warli

The Warli tribe lives in the mountainous and coastal areas of Maharashtra-Gujarat border and surrounding areas. They have their own beliefs, life and customs, which have nothing in common with Hinduism. They speak an unwritten dialect Varli that belongs to the southern zone of the Indo-Aryan languages and the union territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. The mural paintings of Warli are said to be similar to those done between 500 and 10,000 BCE in the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh (Dalmia, 1988). The simple yet incredibly dynamic figures of Warli paintings tell stories of village life, myth and legend. It uses very basic graphic vocabulary containing a circle, a triangle and a square. The circle represents the sun and the moon while the triangle is derived from mountains and pointed trees. The square seems to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land (Tribhuwan, Finkenauer and Chitrak, 2003). The Warli uses only white color for their paintings. Their white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. The wall paintings are done only for special occasions such as weddings or harvests.

4            Aim of the Study

As we look down to the evolution of animation in India, we can observe that Indian animators are never able to utilize the rich art heritage existing in India. Post-independence, the techniques of animation are taught to Indian animators by the experts from the US. So, they are often influenced by and follow their animation style. This created a huge need for defining the India’s own animation style. In India, a lot of contextual information is depicted in the vernacular art forms. Indian vernacular art forms are not just the visual styles that express a particular regional identity but also reflect their way of thinking and recognizing the world. The potential of incorporating the Indian art style in animation has not been explored by many people. One major reason could be the challenges that appear in the process of doing so. Hence, the focus of research presented in this paper emphasize upon monitoring the challenges faced while assimilating an Indian art form into animation medium while retaining the identity of art form. The semiotic analysis of the process is conducted to propose a framework that can assist in defining the parameters for efficient decision making to achieve this transformation for any particular Indian art form. The iconographic study of the art forms was the crucial part of the whole process. But that in itself is a huge discussion point on its own and outside the scope of this paper.

5               Research Methodology

In order to define the challenges of any process, it becomes quintessential to understand the whole process. For our scenario i.e., assimilating an Indian art form into animation medium while retaining the identity, there are no existing guidelines or well-defined process available in literatures. So, action based research becomes the optimum research tool for approaching our targeted research question. As part of this action research we involved ourselves in the whole process of producing the animation artifacts from the targeted Indian vernacular art forms (Singh 2013a; 2013b). The whole process is divided into three different phases, e.g. pre-production, production and post-production. This paper focuses only on the production, involving creating animation based on vernacular art form and performing the semiotic analysis of the same to propose the effective decision making at various steps. There are various parameters that play an important part in defining the identity of the animation. Four of the prominent parameters are visuals, story, narration and technique. As part of this research, only the effect of one parameter i.e., the visuals is explored keeping all the remaining parameters as constant. An existing western story of Alice in Wonderland is chosen based on the parameters such as popularity, genre, characters, famous short instances and adaptability. Also, the two Indian vernacular art forms – namely Tholpavakoothu (Shadow Puppetry) and Gond Tribal Art – are targeted for the experimentation. An extensive case-study-based research was performed for these choices in the pre-production step. But the process of making those choices is not the focus of this paper.

5.1        Semiotic Analysis

Semiotics is the study of sign processes and meaningful communication. It is premised on the hypothesis that all types of phenomena have a corresponding underlying system. The role of theory in semiotics is to make visible the underlying, non-perceptible system by constructing a model of it (Buckland 2000). Kress and Van Leeuwen have suggested the possibility of finding out how the technical resources of cinema work on a semiotic level, and how we might have not only a unified and unifying technology, but a unified and unifying semiotics (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2001). A mode is a socially and culturally shaped resource for making meaning. Image, writing, layout, speech, moving images are examples of different modes (Kress 2010). Modality refers to the status, authority and reliability of a message, to its value as truth or fact (Hodge and Kress 1988). Multimodality or multimodal analysis is a theory within the paradigms of semiotics, which deals with communication in and across a range of semiotic modes such as verbal, visual, aural, etc. Multimodality is originally rooted in Halliday’s social semiotics (Halliday 1979), and is elaborated by Kress and van Leeuwen in the visual realm (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2006). They posited that it may no longer be satisfactory to assume that the different modes of the film perform a single specified role. Images provide the action, sync sounds a sense of realism, music a layer of emotion, and so on, with the editing process supplying the “integration code” (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001). Multi-modal Matrix is a three-dimensional, multimodal, systemic functional model for narrative film, which sets out a method for analysing how meaning is constructed in film. As an example, the Multimodal Matrix presents Cinematography as one of the mode for film, which is divided into the sub-modes of camera (recording), lighting, sound (recording) and audiovisual editing (Hughes and Riley 2009).

This research draws on the visual grammar of Kress and van Leeuwen including terms like ‘mode’ and ‘modality.’ The references discussed above talks about semiotics in term of films and not specifically the animated films. This encompasses the need for redefining the modes in the context of animation films. As the scope of this research, the mode of movement, visuals and technology are selectively picked assuming them to be the major distinguishing factors within the paradigm of animated films. Referring the structure of Multimodal Matrix framework, the mode of movement is further divided into sub-modes of characters and camera while the mode of visuals into sub-modes of framing, composition and color scheme/texture. The semiotic analysis during this research is captured in a form of Mode-Modality matrix, as an effective framework for adapting any Indian vernacular art into the animation medium. This matrix showcases a comparative analysis of decisions taken for both the targeted art forms. The modality in the context of this research is the status of retaining the essence/identity of an art form. Each of the modes along with their sub-modes are mapped against the modality parameter. The modality parameter is defined here as the level of variance taken into account while deviating from the traditional practices of each art form. This modality parameter can have three possible value namely Low, Medium and High. The ‘Low’ value signifies that during this assimilation process the particular mode is kept very close to the actual traditional practice of that art form. Similarly, the ‘High’ value signifies that for a particular mode, assimilation process introduced a completely new practice or largely deviated from the traditional practice in that art form. The ‘Medium’ value covers a middle ground between the other two values. The whole matrix derived through this process is shown below in Figure 1. The process of deriving appropriate value corresponding to different mode and sub-mode for selected art form is discussed in the subsequent sections.





Figure 1. Comparative analysis using Mode-Modality matrix

5.2        Movement

There are two broad categories of movement in an animation or in general any of the film i.e., the movement of characters and the relative camera movement. For the movement of characters in an animation, the economy of movement holds the utmost significance for any animator. Economy of movement is the conscious decision of defining the amount of movement that can be showcased under the specified constraints. In our scenarios, the major constraint is the characteristics of art form, which defines the possible freedom of movement. In the first art form of Tholpavakoothu (Shadow Puppetry), the significant characteristics to be considered are single perspective per character (front/side), puppetry joint movements and no lip-syncing. Taking these characteristics in consideration, the character movement in animation is achieved by directly replicating the actual practice of puppetry. Thus, prompting the ‘Low’ value of modality parameter. For the second Gond art form, the defining characteristics are possibility of 2D layers based movement, existence of front, side and three-quarter views and facial features providing scope for lip-syncing. In this scenario, the absence of movement in the actual practice invokes the necessity of introducing the fresh element of movement leading to some amount of deviation. But the characteristics mentioned above provided easy scope for such adaptation without much deviation in terms of character styles. So, the modality parameter here holds ‘Medium’ value.



Figure 2. Characters designed in the context of Tholpavakoothu and Gond art.

The relative camera movement can be further divided into three different categories namely primary, secondary and tertiary types of movements. In the primary category, all the movement happens in front of the camera while the camera remains static. The secondary category involves movement of the camera itself. In the tertiary category, movement is created through the process of editing the images together. The scope of using these movement in each art form is decided based on the context, audience viewpoint and the scope for extendibility without compromising with their characteristics. Puppetry is a theatrical art with static stage. Therefore, primary movement is dominantly used while animating Tholpavakoothu (Shadow Puppetry) art form. Secondary movement is also used at few places but only to create the sense of emphasis. The tertiary movement is not used since it doesn’t fits in the context of this art form which is basically a stage performance being viewed from the long distance as a whole. So, overall to maintain the essence of theatrical art form, primary movement is utilized similar to the actual practice with some use of secondary movement. This leads to the ‘Medium’ value of modality parameter. For the Gond art, all primary, secondary & tertiary movements are used based on the flexibility provided by movement potential of the characters. For the depiction of conversation between characters, primary movement is dominantly used instead of camera panning in order to maintain the framing essence of static narratives as an important characteristic of this art style. With Gond being a static art form, it doesn’t hold any sense of camera movement in its actual practice depicts the ‘High’ value of modality parameter.

5.3        Visuals

The second mode, visuals, are divided into three sub-modes of framing, composition and color/texture. The framing or shot selection is decided based on the characteristics of each art form. For Tholpavakoothu (Shadow Puppetry), long and medium-long shots are used predominantly to maintain the visual language of puppetry. No close-ups are used for the same reason. Medium shots are used during conversations to emphasis on body movements, which compensates for no lip-synched dialogue. The ‘Medium’ level of modality variance is assigned here as during the actual practice audience perceive this art form always in a single medium-long shots. On the other hand, long and medium-long shots are mostly used to maintain the composition style of Gond art. Medium shots and close-ups are used to emphasize certain elements as they arise during the conversations. Even in the actual practice, the artists don’t bind themselves into single viewpoint and explore all variations of framing. So, the assimilation process practice in this context has ‘Low’ variance since it is close to the actual practice.



Figure 3. Variation of shots used in the each animation.

While defining composition for the animation of each art form the decision-making is done through various parameters. This includes the total number of characters and elements on screen, the existing elements to be picked from the particular art form and whether there is need to add new elements as per story requirement which are non-existing in the original art form. The shadow puppetry in its original performance uses a small number of characters and elements on stage at a time due to the limited number of people performing it. But that constraint doesn’t exist while adapting it in an animation form. So, a need for extra elements/characters arises to create the ambience and fill the empty spaces. Some of the existing elements used in original performances like trees and pillars are directly picked for the animation while new elements like mushrooms, grass, clouds and birds are added as per the need of story. As implied, we deviated at ‘Medium’ level of variance during this practice by introducing few additional elements on top of the actual practice to balance the composition by filling the unnecessary space. On the other hand, Gond art already used to have good amount of characters/elements in its composition. So, the similar number density is used while creating the compositions for animation. However, here also as per the story requirement some non-existing elements are added like mushroom and hookah along with some existing elements like trees and leaves. But the overall composition in terms of balance, spacing and density is kept quite close of the actual Gond art making it a ‘Low’ level of variance.



Figure 4. Color scheme, texture and compositions

The animation for Tholpavakoothu is created using the color scheme, which is in sync with the actual visuals of the performance to maintain the essence of shadow puppetry even though it is on digital screen and not on the traditional cloth screen. All the characters and elements are designed in the black color only to represent them as the shadow. The background is kept blank containing the gradient of brown, orange and yellow to match the actual hue created by the burning lamps at the back of the stage in original performance. For the Gond art animation, different combinations of dots, dashed lines and the curved lines are merged together to build the different textures. One of the feature of Gond tribal art is that even though all the paintings look similar but each of them contains a distinguishing signature style defined by a particular artist which is created by the use of particular patterns, colors, strokes, etc. This helps in identifying the artist of a particular Gond painting. But for the animation, the patterns and styles from different artists are merged together to create a collaborative output which can’t be pinpointed to a specific artist. In terms of variance parameter, both of these art forms are assigned ‘Low’ value since the actual color scheme and texture associated with them are easily replicated in digital medium.

5.4        Technology

The two major decision-making done in this section is to define which animation style and software suits better for the specific art styles. Since, both of the art forms are flat in nature, so 2D style of animation is chosen. 3D animation would have been a better choice for art styles having 3D forms like traditional Banaras wooden toys. For the software, decision is taken based on the other modes i.e., movement & visuals. The characters and elements created for both the art forms contain layered structure. Also, there is no specific requirement for frame-by-frame animation, the keyframe-based animation fits best for both of them. Thus, Adobe Flash is picked as the optimum software in this scenario. Gathering these insights, we deviated from the actual hand-made practice of both art forms and adapted them into digital medium. But the deviation is only on ‘Medium’ scale since the characteristics of both these art forms matched closely to the digital 2D animation practices. This made the assimilation process easy without the need of further deviation and introduction of new techniques.

6            Conclusion

There are some prominent challenges that could be concluded from this research. First of all, vernacular art forms are contextual in nature. A generic approach can’t be applied for adapting all of them into animation. Modes are not mutually exclusive, as they can also have dependency on each other. Hence, the decisions for them become interconnected. The scope of variance that could be incorporated while maintaining the modality for a particular art style is one of the most critical decision-making. The framework is still in a very early stage. A constant feedback loop containing iterative user testing among the audience is required to make the Mode-Modality matrix more concrete in nature. Similar experimentation with other art forms can help in elaborating it to form a generic structure for multimodal analysis of any art form. This framework can establish a base for animators working with particular art forms providing them an existing ground for making effective decisions. Further experiments with other identity defining variables like story and narration are required to build a holistic solution for the problem of animation identity crisis in India.

Paritosh Singh is a student of the Design Programme, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India. Dr. Koumudi P. Patil is an Assistant Professor of the Design Programme & Department of HSS, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India.

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© Paritosh Singh and Koumudi P. Patil

Edited by Amy Ratelle