Colors' social drama Balika Vadhu is one of the longest-running shows on Indian television. Over its seven year run, its central character Anandi has consistently rated as the most popular character on Indian television. HopMotion Studios recently animated Chhoti Anandi, a new kids' series based on Balika Vadhu, which went to air this January.
Chhoti Anandi is a homegrown animated series and the first of its kind as an extension of a popular television show character. Anish Patel, founder of HopMotion Studios, talked to us about this new series, his company and why he loves using Harmony and Storyboard Pro.
Hi Anish! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your studio? What drew you to animation?
After graduating from film school in California, I began working as a writer and director. Besides writing for film, my wife and I have co-written popular animated shows in India. We decided to create HopMotion a little over two years ago and wanted to focus on creating high quality 2D animation for the Indian and International broadcast market.
As a founder of HopMotion Studios, what are you most proud of?
We started out with a team of five making animated explainer videos, and within a short time we had built a reputation around doing service work for some big-ticket international shows. We had the opportunity to collaborate with Canadian-based animation studios in Toronto and Ottawa early on, and now of course, we are really proud to be associated with Colors, India's number one channel, as well as Sphere Origins, one of the most successful television production houses in India.
Colors has given us a platform to showcase our story and animation skills. It's great to be working on Chhoti Anandi, one of the first animated shows to be commissioned by a Hindi GEC channel. With close to 500 million kids hungry for good quality animated content in India, it's a market that is only now beginning to mature.
Can you give me a bit of background on the character and it's popularity?
In the original show, the story revolves around Anandi, the child bride. Chhoti Anandi is a stand alone series that explores Anandi's life before she became a child bride. It chronicles her childhood in the small town of Rajasthan where she grew up. She is wise beyond her age and questions society's regressive norms. In every episode, Anandi and her gang of friends go on different adventures.
Working on Television episodics is a fast-paced business. How does Harmony and Storyboard Pro help you work faster when you're up against deadlines?
The Toon Boom pipeline helps speed up our process in many ways. We follow a completely paperless pipeline: using StoryBoard Pro for boarding and timed animatics and Harmony for animation production. The unified workflow between Story Board Pro and Harmony helps us be more productive and cost effective. What we love best is that we don't have to worry about going into different software for compositing – we can do all that in Harmony. Also, because the software is server based, our artists can easily access files for reuse or to alter an already existing template.
How does Harmony enable you artistically?
Initially, we were a bit overwhelmed with the entire rigging process in Harmony. But after cutting our teeth on our own web shows, our riggers have developed to the point where they can truly take advantages of the advanced rigging tools and deformers. This can really push artistry to another level.
And Storyboard Pro, what do you love about it?
As a creatively driven studio founded by writers, the boarding process is highly valued and extremely important - sometimes things can get messy around here! We can't afford to experiment creatively once we get to the stage of animation production, so storyboarding is where all the experimentation and magic happens.
Our boarders absolutely love the freedom Storyboard Pro gives them when coming up with various iterations for a scene or sequence quickly. It is a powerful editing tool as well! Storyboard Pro eliminates the need to draw on paper, scan hand drawings and edit in another software.
Any last words?
Chhoti Anandi, our first television show for the Indian market, is a first in many ways. There has been a lack of female-driven animated shows in India. Chhoti Anandi is one of the first animated shows in India with a female protagonist.
It is also the first time that a popular television character from a social drama has being spun off into an animated show. Another first is that a General Entertainment Channel (GEC) that mostly caters to adults has commissioned an original animated show to attract kids and family audiences in India. And, it is possibly the first time that an Indian animated show is being completely produced using the Toon Boom Pipeline.
Chhoti Anandi will be simulcast on Colors and Rihstey (Rishtey is a free-to-air channel that is popular in rural India), and it will be the first original programming for Rishtey, which is expected to boost the channel's viewership given that Sunday morning viewing is still a habit in rural markets.
HopMotion is a full-service digital 2D animation studio engaged in creating broadcast quality content for clients in India and around the world. With a 40 seater Toon Boom pipeline, HopMotion is equipped to handle even the most complex of projects. 5,000 sq feet of studio space in the heart of Mumbai houses writers, pre-production artist, storyboarders, animators and video editors.