Mr. Deva Saravanan is a creative and animation director based out of Chennai. With more than 15 years of experience in the animation industry and having worked on many 2D and 3D animation projects, Deva is certainly a treasure house of knowledge when it comes to creative animation. He is currently leading a strong team working on several interesting projects. He has extensive knowledge in various aspects including character design, concept design and caricatures.
CG Today : Mr. Deva, Thank you for agreeing to talk to us. Please accept our warm welcome.
Deva : Thank You.
CG Today : We would like to start this interview with a question we seldom get a chance to ask. 15 years and counting in the animation industry is quite an accomplishment. When did you decide this line for a career at a time when animation wasn’t anywhere near what it is now in India?
Deva : It was accident. Well a very interesting accident. When I was a student in Chennai collage of arts and crafts I got a chance to see the movie “Lion king”. In that movie there was a scene where Simbha the cub will cry in front of his father’s dead body “help me… anybody... Somebody,” I was moved in to tears, it’s so amazing that an Animator can make audience laugh and cry. Yes art has that capability to bring emotions in to the people mindset and let them go vivid with their imagination. Animation is a structured way for making the audience think what you are thinking or what you want him to think, that’s the power of animation and that has been keeping me moving on all these years.
Animation was not a well heard name those days; it was Mr. Chandrasekhar, Managing Director of Pentafour software & Exports Limited (Pentamedia Graphics) who introduced us to this industry. After graduation I took up my career in Animation with Pentafour.
CG Today : Ek Tha Jungle, for which you are the 3D head and animation director, is being telecast on Disney XD channel as well as on Chithiram, a Tamil cartoon channel. Obviously seeing your programs on TV isn’t a new experience as you are quite a veteran in this field. Nevertheless please tell us about your experience in directing this program.
Deva : Thirukkural has always been close to my heart and ‘Ek Tha Jungle’ was based on this, which made it very special to me. I was heading this project from the Chennai Studio of Accel where we were a team of 38 artistes on this project. We also had our Trivandrum Studio working on this. There were many challenges during this project since it was like real time and had very little lead time, every three week we had to have a release and we will be always over lapping the projects, it required great levels of project internalization and being an animation director I had to be on top of each episode. It was like an assembly line production, we were successful because we had defined the framework. The management was very supportive in this project. It was an excellent and fab team, I always cherished working on this project and the team.
CG Today : As an animation lead at the Malaysian based Persistence of Vision, you did Higgly town Heroes for Walt Disney and Wild Brain. How did that help you as a lead animator? Can you please tell us about things you picked up through your association with Walt Disney, which is quite a huge name in the animation world?
Deva : I closely worked with Mr.Clous, Show Director, Walt Disney. He had directed several animated movies in Europe and across the globe. It was really a great opportunity to have worked with such legends. He had set some guidelines for all animators and if we follow them he will take us to success, he was instrumental in setting up process in this industry. He made it mandatory for thumbnail drawing and an approval process around it, which is almost like a rehearsal in movie or drama terms. Walt Disney's experience is nothing but my next school, the way they handle the project and the treatment given to the script is amazing, many Indian animation directors have started following this. The essence of movie making along with the idea of business is well defined there. There are regular team meeting with all modelers, animators, texturing artist, lighting & compositing specialist; and that is a key strength for their success.
CG Today : You have worked as an art director for animation video games as well. In fact, one of your projects called Gully Cricket was selected for the final supper pitch in the Nasscom Animation 2007. Can you tell us more about the concept of this video game that imitates a popular entertainment mode for school kids (Gully Cricket)? What did the selection at such a big level do to your confidence?
Deva : Working for Gully Cricket was really fun, it was a very young and energetic team. All the team members were cricket enthusiasts, which made the production even easier. Cricket you know is the mother of all games in India and we had capitalized on this craze, right from day one we knew that this will be a big hit and being in Nasscom’s Super Pitch was a feather in the Cap. I felt like Sachin Tendular, our confidence levels were at the best. Personally I felt like this was a very big achievement and gave me the hope and courage to aim for more.
Working for Games is a different ball game, it is not like the regular animation. The load on the files has to be less and they are not rendered as heavy like in movies. The quality of animation will also be rudiment but the tough task is mapping and integrating it with the Game engine.
CG Today : As part of your association with Titalee Digital Studio, you got the opportunity to work with a Bulgarian studio as well as do a couple of projects from USA. What do you think is the benefit an animator or animation director gets by working on such international projects?
Deva : The biggest learning would be managing time schedule and also planning, these are two very important characters that an animator or director has to learn, we are very obsessed with quality and perfection, hence we loose out on the schedule. Most of the production initiatives have over run cost and time, but working with international client and studios gives us the edge in terms of picking up their time consciousness and also the eye for quality within the stipulated time frame, that calls for immense planning. These are the learning that we have acquired from them and slowly imbibed them in to our work culture.
CG Today : During your association with Titalee, you worked on Govner, a 2D project and Ugly Hero, a 3D project, in collaboration with Stan Communications, USA. Your role was that of an animation director along with supervising. What is essentially different for an animation director, in a 2D and 3D project? Are there any specific challenges that team leads have to gear up for?
Deva : As an Animation Director they both mean the same for me, the techniques and delivery mechanism will vary. 2D is difficult compared to 3D. Here the animator requires drawing every frame manually and require to maintain characters consistency. 3D is comparatively easy, once model and textures are set they will remain the same throughout until the movie demands differently. 3D requires more of technical expertise and knowledge of the animation tools. Over all for an Animation Director 2D animation requires minute monitoring and artistic orientation for 3D it would be computer skill and tools knowledge.
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