Animation by Sekhar Mukherjee

Traditional & Custom Nut, Silas Hickey

The day started with a presentation by Silas Hickey, an animator and filmmaker, who has worked in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Sydney for many different animation studios. He shared with us the ideology behind the studio he co-produced, Custom Nuts.

The studio, based in Tokyo, focuses on creating hybrid animations, borrowing certain elements from the anime industry and the classical toons from the west. He explained how they came to the solution, after analyzing the kind of content being produced in the west as well as the east and what content is being received well in the region.

He showed us a small animation as an example of the kind of work the studio is doing, which incorporates classical toon elements like physical humor and embodied character design, and elements from anime like slow narrative.

Animated Individuals, Prof. Heeseon Kim Sun

The morning of 27th became even brighter when our next speaker Heeseon Kim aka Sun, another old friend of NIDAP and Chitrakatha, started her presentation with an anecdote where looking at her diverse work rather than putting her into any one category of visual artist, someone defined her as an Animated Individual, and she shared that it meant a lot to her. 

Like our theme this year, everything indeed is animated in this digital world. After talking about 2D and 3D animation, she also spoke about animating experiences by bringing it out of the screen. 

And next she shared with us a few of her projects including her film The river, that was screened at Chitrakatha 2015 too, leaving all of us in awe and wishing the session never ended.

My Crumpled Paper Parables, Kunal Kundu

Kunal Kunda started as Animation film design, illustrator after graduating from NID and went on to become a polymath creative and children’s book author known for his crumpled paper sculptures. The first job he took up was of an animation film designer, and then he moved onto becoming a freelance illustrator. He worked with Harper Collins, Penguin, Hachette, Westland, Scholastic, GQ, Rolling Stones and Men’s World. He speaks of the struggle of trying to label one’s profession and learning to navigate the rejection that often comes after a series of wins. One such rejection came from Anna Olswanger, and he forgot about it in the onslaught of others. He then decided to take a 4 month long break during which he started to pick a medium a day and work with it as a way of discovering what he liked and what he was good at.

 On one such day, his son sat by him crumpling sheets of paper and one of those sheets looked to him like a dog. He took it upon himself to see how he could show others what he was seeing. From completing the dog, he went on to make endangered animals out of paper and then sent some of his new work to Art representatives, including Anna Olswanger. She responded by asking him if he could complete a whole set of them and then encouraged him to write a story around it. Together they revised the story twelve to thirteen times, leading to a book called “Wildlife on Paper”. Currently, Kunal is working on a television series based on his paper animals which is being pitched to the likes of Nickelodeon, DreamWorks and Disney.

Story Trip by Trip Creative Service

Prateek Sethi’s work has been a part of making science interesting to many of us as children with the show F.A.Q. He is the founder of TRIP creative services. On the last day of Chitrakatha ‘21 he spoke about the importance of exploring one’s horizons, taking on the Goliath and always aiming higher than where we are. He used GIFs from the show Monty Python (1969-2014) to help visualise all his points. Some of the lessons one could learn from the session were to be firm but moldable and to break the rhythm of things in life.

 Learning to take and apply feedback and letting one’s work speak for itself is important. Prateek says that members of a good team go off of each other’s energies. He still considers himself a student of animation and regularly takes inspiration from shows and series. Doing all types of varied work, and ultimately joining a team that does diverse things is a must, at least for people looking to gain experience. To be able to get somewhere with this amount of exploration, one’s bases must be clear- one must stay true to their work and to themselves.

Drawing Research, Meike Ekstein

Meike Ekstein and Rebecca Morganti-Pfaffhauser were always interested in finding out what work they could do together. They found this answer when they got a Japanese printing machine unlike any other. It looks like a normal machine but you can choose really nice colours and mix your own. They say the beautiful and poetic thing is that something is always being printed wrong. In 2017, Meike was getting her research based PhD on a pretty wide question- “Where does drawing come from?”.

 She knew that we think with our brain and we draw with our hands, but where does drawing come from? What is that place where this amazing urge of expression leak from? She asked 16 designers and her colleagues to draw for her, and in total they ended up drawing about 1600 drawings for her. All her test persons say they really liked her experiment and that it deeply inspired them.

In terms of advice on how to do research projects, Meike says to make a plan and stick to it. 

Rebecca is really driven by print text images and prints. She says her love of colour stems from graphic design as Zurich has a lot of black and white culture in graphic design, but that she goes back to her belief that colour is Life. Meike says that She’s fascinated by mixing colours and that the different hues in different seasons make her happy.

Blackbird Stories

Blackbird studios is a renowned studio that started in 2018 and is experienced in the craft of filmmaking, design, animation, art and installations

In today’s session, Rajesh Thakare, Troy Vasanth, Aman Gupta, and (insta @/bhukatkar) represented Blackbird studios. They started off by talking about their journey, their clientele which consists mainly of the TV industry (platforms such as Discovery, Hotstar, etc.) and their current project with Isabel Herguera on her feature length film.

Further into the session, they showed a few of their animations and the research behind them- experimenting with cardboard boxes, ideating initial sketches, storyboarding and animatics and test shoots that took as long as two months.

The approach focused on breaking the property of cardboard in motion but at the same time keeping the feel of the cardboard. The props were painted black in order to camouflage with the background, and the set, rigging system, room and the camera setup. Every frame took around 40 minutes, but the outcome was extremely appreciable.

A Crossroad of stories- Soft launch of Longform2

Welcome to the crossroad of stories, here you’ll find yourself a little confused because all exits are one of a kind, surreal, scientific and mathematical, traditional but touching or may be an emotional roller coaster of memories, this junction has endless possibilities of stories and on 27th the last day of Chitrakatha 2021, this junction became even livelier when four comic fanatics Pinaki De, Debkumar Mitra, Sarabjit Sen and our director Sekhar Mukherjee gave a soft launch to their collaborative effort celebrating this crossroad of stories, Longform2.

Longform is a platform that gives voice to people who want to express. After the huge success of the first edition that came out in 2018 with huge diversity in the themes, artistic styles and narratives, the second edition is something to look forward to.

Day three of ‘Back to square one’

The last round of ‘Back to square one’ saw three more guest speakers on the panel. The intention of this three day long discussion was to look at sequential graphic narratives in a much wider historical timescape as well as the various trajectories that the contemporary forms of the medium is taking.

The three new speakers were – Roma Chatterji, Prof. and Head of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Vidyun Sabhaney a writer, editor, and illustrator, and Siddhesh Gooptu, representing Zubaan an independent feminist publishing house.

IFI New Delhi along with alliance francaise hyderabad and pune has produced a series of 7 videos to initiate an online archive on sequential graphic storytelling in India and in France. This archive was inaugurated at the end of this session hosted by Abeer Gupta, Samuel Berthet and Christine Cornet.

Playing with anatomy in Indian Art, Prof. Soumik Majumdar

Prof. Soumik Nandy Majumdar is a faculty member of the Department of History of Art, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan in the Department, Kala Bhavana (The Institute of Fine Arts & Crafts.

Anatomy is very important in figurative representation, be it an animal, human or bird- these are the words shared by Soumik as the session took off, as he explained, how artists all over the world have reinvented the idea of anatomy, by playing with the idea of it and not subscribing to one particular notion of anatomy. The extremely diverse topic paid attention towards the visuals and freedom of logic behind playing from anatomy- considering the content, expression and not adhering to one preset notion of anatomy.

The Shilpa Shastra states predefined theoretical norms but are not applicable practically. Examples ranging from simple sketches, to Picasso’s work, and Indian artists such as Jamini Roy and MF Hussain were displayed. 

Artistic distortion shouldn’t be considered derogatory since despite all distortions and fragmentations the visual forms are quite clear, and these distortions are not arbitrary or random, they’re results of different considerations and factors, subject matter to context and narrative content of the art.

Anatomy in Indian art is subservient to everything else. The play with anatomy is not done only by the artists but also the viewers. Furthermore, examples from the Indus Valley civilisation handicrafts, african and polynesian primitive masks were also shown, hence stating the obvious fact that anatomical distortion is not a product of modern art.

The session ended with Soumik saying, “Anatomically accurate figures without distortions are lifeless.”

OTOBI Studio, Animesh Kundu

Towards the end of the day we had a very interesting session commemorating a prodigious furniture, graphic, logo and set designer, engineer, artist, sculptor and founder Otobi limited Nitun Kundu. His son, Animesh Kundu shared with us his work and achievements, also gave a good exposure of the current industry and processes involved in making certain products at Otobi.

Animated Spaces, El Palmeral

Estudio El Palmeral is an Architecture and Planning Studio in Barcelona, formed by a group of individuals in 2017, involved in carrying out artistic, participatory and architectural projects.

Their session was mainly focused on Inflatable camera obscura, the way these inflatables come together, and the whole process that goes behind making the inflatables.

Technical drawings of the ideation and workshops photos were shown. Three videos were shown throughout the session- the first video being about scenography for Theatre Dodot, the second video about Chickens animation in Barcelona, where they showed how that particular inflatable was created in detail, by taking out the plastic frame, covering it with a plastic film and putting different kinds of inks from India (Camel inks), and other micro things like feathers, oils etc. and the third video was about Inflable De Papel (paper inflatable) in which the inflatable’s inner curved surface was painted by an artist.

Lastly, the events of the student workshop conducted a few weeks back at NID AP as a part of Chitrakatha 2021 were shown. Batch of 2020 participated in it with much enthusiasm at the new campus site, where they were enlightened about the various kinds of spaces, tools and connections and they worked out a space to chill and hang out, inspired by the NID AP logo.

Design for Numerical Manufacturing, Prof. Marielena Paptandro

Professor Marielena Paptandro is an architecture graduate now working in the field of design with complex and morderninstic approaches. In the presentation she showed a wide variety of very interesting projects. She showed the manufacturing of objects and how it can be done with a precise engineering robot, what hardware goes into it and software as well, we went from a wide range of projects from geometric bridges to living pods in jungles. 

 She showed works of many students she mentored in which there was a variety of material they were working on from resin printing, wood sheets, glass. Her motive is always to work smartly and efficiently with the help of geometry and numbers to create wonders that might seem impossible and in the end she concluded by showing a very beautiful installation that she worked on recently.

Chitrakatha – in theatres nearby

As the sessions progress in Chitrakatha, the SLA room is getting another dimension. We now have a projector in place streaming everything against the white background. People now change their directions towards the screen instead of the laptops more often than before. 

All the Chitrakatha meets and talks are streamed on the white background so that people who are working can also listen to the meets as and when they can, without letting their workflow get disturbed. Now people gather around our big screen, in a semicircle with their laptops or sketch pads in their hands or laps. Some on the mattress below, some on the floor, some standing, cos no place to lay low, now our small theatre is again teeming with people and unanimous emotions, once again.

Glocal Gags, Vaibhav Studio

In this fantastic audio visual work presentation done by Vaibhav and Anand, they went through some of the iconic projects they have created till now. Vaibhav Kumaresh who has worked on numerous T.V shows, commercials, promos, feature films talked about his most loved show around the world called Lamput.

 He talked about the initial ideas, pitches and development of this show. In the process he got Anand Babu on board as well in making of the show. Anand talked about his journey till now with this show and then we saw a lot of promos and mini projects which are almost a cult in themselves due to people’s affection for it. We saw the process which goes behind making these kinds of videos, different methods like stop motion, puppeteering, flip books and much more. In the end we saw a pitch for a new project that they are excited to work on next.

And just like that, we see the end of Chitrakatha’21. The closing ceremony started following the talk by Zilvinas and Gianmarco. Sekhar joined, along with studio El Palmeral and all of our student community.

Everyone shared their thoughts on the event and it ended with Sekhar showing a promo for Chitrakatha’23. The next Chitrakatha is to be held at the Amaravathi Campus, which is still in the making. 

We ended the day with us catching glimpses of all the faces of students who helped make this happen. The campus was lively again, with colourful lights flooding the courtyard, people singing and dancing together. Chitrakatha left us with a newfound appreciation for the people around us and hope for the great future of this community.

As for Chitkhabri, the student community had poured out their energy to document and immortalise the event in the form of words, for our very first online blog, Chitkhabri has been a very big step to start again something in near future. See you in the next Chitrakatha, till then ciao!


Abhishek M, Akash K, Akash P, Ashrita, Dwit, Kritika, Namrata, Parinita, Parth K, Rati, Shreya A, Sindhuja, Suhani, Vyom

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