Whistling Woods International: Training School's Animation Dept. Provides Students with Real World Setting
"Wacom has made our teaching and production environment much easier and faster and very cost effective and helped our students to deliver high quality works in less time in WWIL" -- Gokul.K (Head of Animation Dept., Whistling Woods International)
With more than a thousand movies made annually, the Bollywood movie industry is easily one of the world's largest. Perhaps not coincidentally, India is also fast becoming an outsourcing center for top animation studios. With this explosion in the movie industry and increasing demand for content creation, India is in need of relevant human resources and advanced technology.
As the film and other creative industries undergo a revolution in India, the industry that supports it is going through its own remarkable changes. India requires new talent with the latest knowledge and skills to fill the demand of these markets. While the tertiary institutions conduct such courses in academic style, many commercial training institutions and centers are being established to impart knowledge to working adults and private students. However, the lack of qualified lecturers, proper curriculums and quality assurance of these private institutions has churned out students of vastly different qualities and skill sets.
Providing the best in vocational training for the creative industries
The founders of Whistling Woods International (WWIL) had a lofty vision when they established this school. Their goal was to train the best talent for the creative industries by providing the most qualified lecturers, professionally managed curriculums and training facilities. They wanted to do this not only in India where they were based but throughout Asia. Graduates of WWIL are highly sought after by the film, broadcasting, media art and animation industries due to their training in WWIL's practical and hands-on curriculum. The school is a process driven institution where students have the opportunity to learn the all the necessary processes and techniques necessary for careers in animation, art, film, cinematography, acting, directing and more in the span of a two years.
According to Mr. Gokul K, head of the animation department, about 120 students are enrolled in WWIL and competition for acceptance is fierce. Held twice-a-year, Mr. Gokul's animation course received as many as 80 applicants in July 2008 for a maximum class size of 30 students. However, 95% of his students under his tutelage finish the course. In the final examination, students in groups of five are required to produce a short film (3-5 minutes) in digital format under supervision of animation industry experts to simulate as closely as possible work in the real world.
90 full time highly qualified lecturers now teach in WWIL and about 50 visiting lecturers from other established institutions abroad are invited to transfer valuable experience and industry's latest techniques to the students every year.
Ensuring students work with real world technologies
However, WWIL ensures that students have not only the best instructors, but the best learning facilities and the latest technologies as well. Wacom has been chosen by Mr. Gokul K in his classrooms to complete his entourage of world-class hardware and software for design, animation and other digital content creation. Investing in Wacom's top-of-the-line products was no small matter, but Mr. Gokul felt that "Wacom has made our teaching and production environment much easier and faster, it has become very cost effective and helped our students to deliver high quality works in less time at Whistling Woods. What [Wacom] has allowed us to do is turn our classrooms into a commercial studio."
The school has more than 40 units of Intuos3 pen tablets, 3 units of Cintiq 21UX interactive pen displays, and 10 units of Graphire 4 pen tablets. The lecturers have their own Intuos3 for the sole purpose of teaching and many students end up investing in their own Intuos3 pen tablets after they experience how much better their own performance becomes while in school. The Intuos3 pen tablets are used in editing artwork, compositing and animation while Cintiq 21UX displays are used for detailed animation as well as lecturing. The campus itself has about 400 PCs and 30 Mac Pros. Software used in teaching include Photoshop, Maya, ToonBoom, XSI, Zbrush, Shake, Final Cut Pro, and other leading industry software.
Mr. Gokul has used many high precision input devices; he feels that while a PC mouse does somehow mimic pen strokes, these basic devices could not possibly replicate the exact feeling Intuos3 to provides artists. Accurate pen pressure, pen tilt sensitivity and high resolution are just the start; Intuos3 pens feel natural--the true measure of quality. Lecturers and students rely on the 1024 levels of pen pressure when painting and doing 3D sculpting, but the instrument's high precision allows them to forget about the tool and concentrate on the artwork.
Before using Wacom products, WWIL used traditional media such as pen and paper in all their classes. Working with pen and paper left little room for error as the cost of standard industry tracing paper used for animation can run remarkably high--especially with students in training. Furthermore, in completing a single piece of work, pen and paper meant starting again from scratch if a serious error is made. Students fighting against time to complete assignments were left with little room for error or experiment. And, they were not gaining real-world experience for an industry that has made the digital workflow the norm to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
After WWIL invested in Wacom products, students were able to experiment with many ideas knowing that mistakes could be rectified instantly without scrapping the entire work. Lecturers began to see many fresh ideas and were able to assess the creative potential of their students from different works submitted. They noted that the quality of their students' artwork improved in many ways.
Guests and visitors were amazed at the equipment, particularly the Cintiq 21UX, when they visited WWIL. The advanced technology has contributed to WWIL's reputation for providing the best facilities for its students.
The contribution of Wacom's products toward training high quality talent does not stop at the campus gates however. Students who participated in a four-week internship program impressed owners of commercial studios with their ability to naturally and fully utilize Wacom products for various stages of work. For employers, this was a sign of professionalism in an industry that is just beginning to adopt the latest technologies. As a result, students who showed good adaptability to these commercial environments received job offers from the studios at the end of their internship. Mr. Gokul expects WWIL students to be quickly absorbed into the various industries right after they graduate and the prospect of working overseas is also very high.
At WWIL the Wacom brand is synonymous with performance, work quality and innovation. Mr. Gokul strongly recommends Wacom products to students, creative enthusiasts and working professionals despite the big investment for those in India. Afterall, commercial studios choose Wacom's professional-level Intuos3 and Cintiq 21UX as their de-facto tools and would accept nothing less.
The next blockbuster movie you watch could very well include significant contributions from Whistling Woods graduates, because in Bollywood, things can come true if you dare to dream.
For more information about Whistling Woods International, please visit www.whistlingwoods.net