The continuous evolution of technology has made it easier than ever to self-publish, removing all barriers to communication.
Today, anyone with a computer can create an eBook formatted for the Kindle, which reaches Amazon’s millions of users instantly.
There are already a handful of eBooks that have crossed one million copies, without having gone through a publishing house. Authors such as Amanda Hocking and Kerry Wilkinson had their manuscripts rejected, but today their books have made both of them very rich.
Tools such as Adobe Creative Suite 6 are enabling similar developments in animation and film-making, and digital media is having a direct impact in shaping creativity.
Mumbai-based Kushal Ruia, creative head, Amar Chitra Katha India, says: “Technology is removing the barriers of entry. More and more people are able to try new things like animation. Technology doesn’t directly improve creative output, but makes it easier for people with good ideas to express themselves.”
Cinematographer Aseem Bajaj, who has worked on big commercial movies such as Golmaal: Fun Unlimited and Teen Patti, as well as critically lauded films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Bandit Queen, says digital cinema is changing film-making in a direct way as well. “Earlier, setting up a shot took hours, longer than the shot itself,” he explains. “Today, when I tell my assistant to block a part of the set, he says it’s faster to remove it in post (production). The freedom is amazing, but it’s also bringing a little laziness.”
Creating a new industry
This development in technology has also been responsible for birthing an entire creative industry in India—animation.
Options galore: Technological development has prompted more people to dabble in animation.
C.B. Arun Kumar, academic director at Mumbai’s FX School (an animation school), says: “Indians are a nation of animators now, thanks to computers. Before 2000, in the era of hand-drawn art, we had nothing at all.” Kumar, who has worked in the media for over two decades, has been part of the school since it was formed in 2008. It opened for students in 2009.
But Kumar admits that while the number of animators and schools teaching the subject is on the increase, the quality of their output remains questionable. He says, “A lot of crap is being made, but that will change.”
Ruia says his company, at least, would welcome a greater influx of students trained in India. He says: “We have a lot of jobs to fill. Today, though, we don’t fill them with Indians, because Americans with a decade of experience are coming here to work, thanks to the global economic situation.”
He adds: “Unfortunately, the youngsters we get don’t have any real experience. They learn one or two tools, and get only the basics of technology, and nothing of film-making, in a short six-month or one-year course. How is that going to prepare them for real work?”
Kumar says the situation is changing, but agrees that the majority of institutes still teach only the basics. He says: “A lot of schools teach you how to use a system, how to use short-cuts, and that’s it. They don’t help you to learn the art, only the craft, and the tool you learn becomes obsolete every year. Not everyone with a camera is a cinematographer. Just because you know how to use Photoshop, you’re not a designer.”
Artists vs technology
Says Ruia: “I’d rather have a good artist using bad tools than a bad artist using the best tools. If a person is truly creative, then we can teach them the tools, and that part has become easier than ever, thanks to technology.”
Kumar, however, feels it’s essential for artists to keep up with technology. He says: “Back in 1993, I
was working with Real Image Media Technologies—they make Avid, a non-linear editing software. So we went to Kolkata to talk to Satyajit Ray’s editors, and show them what we can do.
“They literally laughed us out. These were extremely skilled editors, who would regularly do amazing work. But these film veterans couldn’t see how everything was going to become digital, instead of their linear machines. So, after another five or six years, youngsters who had no understanding of cinema and film-making were getting jobs while these guys, who really understood movies, fell by the wayside.”
Keeping up-to-date with technology is now an essential requirement to be a successful artist in any field. In areas such as animation and film-making, where the technology is changing faster than most, this is particularly the case. But at the same time, evolving technology is creating whole new areas for people to work in, and making it easier than ever for anyone to follow their dreams and make works of art as well.
Bajaj adds: “I worked during the transition from film to digital, and our industry was the first creative field to really embrace digital. It’s allowed people to experiment and try new things. When I was shooting Golmaal 3, the actors were telling me to try out particular cameras. Technology has become simpler. But while it’s improving art overall, it means that people don’t have to be as inventive either.”