Animation for Project Democracy

What gives life to digital media/graphics?
Animation. And the animation process, from ideas to end product, via the entire production line, is a journey of curiosity and excitement.

We recently undertook this journey for ‘Project Democracy’, a work-in-film by MIT-JPAL on the history of Indian Democracy. The film follows various contemporary political actors and their rise and fall in the six decades of Indian democracy. Our part of the film was to create animations that explained the context, history and story behind each of these political actors. I wish we could tell you more, but let’s wait for the film to be released.

Currently, in the film, there are four animations: first narrates origin of Communist Party of India to it’s defeat at the hand of Trinamool Congress. The second animation looks at the CPM movement from their original ideal of helping the landless farmers to their rapidly becoming out of step with the modern world. The third animation starts with the Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s declaration of democracy with the universal adult franchise and the comments made on Indian democracy by foreign scholars. And finally, the fourth animation is all about the Indian Anti-Corruption Movement (IAC) that intended to establish a strong legislation against perceived endemic political corruption.

But this wasn’t a task for us alone. The primary drawings of the animation-the illustrations-the key frames were drawn by popular graphic novelist, Sarnath Banerjee.
Observing and understanding his unique style of illustrations and his treatment with bold and confident strokes, we had to come up with an animation style that would preserve his treatment yet be less time consuming. We felt that cut-out animation could be the answer to this.

We believed, modern digital media artists are today’s lead animators, with the computer taking the work of tweening. What’s important was that we created the best key frames possible, so that the computer could understand what we were trying to achieve. When we were creating this animation, we had the ability to control how many frames appeared between each keyframe, or (alternatively) how much time elapsed between each key frames. For us it was a very interesting project, and we met some new and inspiring people through this project. And of course, Sarnath just bowled us over.

We were pleased by the positive feedback and reviews we got from the people, so we decided to make a blog post on our little workscope in this film. What you’ve been seeing are selected gifs taken out from the animation itself. The final cut of the film should be out soon. More updates then!

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