Virtual Victory for Animation Masters Summit

By Pickle  July 28, 2020

It was a very unique experience as Toonz had never conducted a virtual event before. Everything was planned and executed in about a month’s time, says Hiranmayi Narayanan, Festival Director, Animation Masters Summit 2020 hosted by Toonz Media Group

Toonz Media Group has had an unwavering commitment towards the art of animation, and has relentlessly strived to further the growth of animation in India. It is as part of this mission that Toonz conceptualized Animation Masters Summit. The first edition of this event was held 21 years back soon after the establishment of Toonz in 1999. The event has grown and transformed itself into a major platform for not just animation, but for the entire entertainment industry to converge, celebrate and promote diverse art forms as well as artists.

The five-day event (July 20-24) had sessions by masters from various fields in the media and entertainment industry across the world. This includes senior cinematographer Ravi K Chandran, who is famous for the works in movies like Virasat, Black, Dil Chahta Hai, and Kannathil Muthamittal, to name a few. National Award-winning composer Shantanu Moitra is also taking another session.

Academy Award-winning character animator Sajan Skaria, who worked in movies like Finding Nemo, Inside Out, ACE Eddie award winner Fabienne Rawley (Zootopia fame), animation director, and illustrator Chris Appelhans and Cinzia Angelini, a freelance animator and story artist, was also be part of the master sessions.

For the first time in two decades, Animation Masters Summit was virtually organised by TOONZ amid Covid-19 Pandemic? How was the experience?

It was a very unique experience as Toonz had never conducted a virtual event before. We did not have a lengthy planning phase. Everything was planned and executed in about a month’s time. The organizing team worked meticulously with passion and dedication. We paid close attention to details and also had a strategy for managing any unexpected circumstances. In the end, the Summit turned out to be better than we had expected and we’re both proud and humbled by that. Our speakers were amazing and they contributed towards the success of the Summit.

You had successfully managed to bring India and North America with prized masters? How did you manage timings?

While bringing in speakers from North America/Europe, there is always a challenge of time-zone differences. For any North American speaker, sessions were scheduled for 9:00 am or 9:30 am Indian time, which is about 9:00 pm in California. To us, this was the only time that seemed neither too early for the Asian audience nor too late for the speakers/American audience.

The most touching part was Legend of Indian Animation award to Arnab Chaudhuri…

Arnab Chaudhuri has been a twotime Master at our Summit (1999 and 2016). Toonz has also worked with him in various capacities. His creative vision remains a very integral part of Toonz and the entire creative fraternity. His passing away in December 2019 came as a shock to the entire media community and the loss is irreplaceable. He is a true legend and we wanted to honour him in a befitting manner by conferring the Legend of Indian Animation award this year on him posthumously. His family graciously accepted this gesture. Through this award, we hope to keep his creative spirit and his great work alive.

Who are the Masters that attracted the audience the most?

This year’s line-up of Masters and speakers was excellent and each one is a real veteran in their field. Therefore we had more or less the same number of audience members tuning in for all the sessions.

Will some of the AMS sessions be available online — especially for students and also for practitioners?

As of now, the highlights of sessions are available on the social media handles of Animation Masters Summit as well as Toonz Media Group.

Tell us more about the online education initiative VIZDEM announced by Toonz in the inaugural?

This is an online education platform dedicated to creative art forms. Besides animation, motion graphics, VFX, etc for college level students and professionals; fine arts courses like painting, sketching etc will be offered for school students via Vizdem Junior. This is a joint initiative of Toonz and Bangalore-based Native Puppets – an online animation academy. The USP of Vizdem is mentors who are all professionals or ex masters from the industry and one-on-one mentoring for students. The Vizdem app is being currently developed and will be launched in the near future.

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