Greg Acuna Teaches Masters Class at ABAI 2007

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Style, Design, Story and Character development at ABAI ’07

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Day two at ABAI ’07 saw creative masters with proficiency in design, story and character development, styling and colour keys share their expertise in elaborative demonstrative sessions


Active ImageMembers who were part of the session which was more on the lines of an interactive workshop included, Greg Acuna, PC Vikram, Vinod, Siju Thomas, Vincent Edwards and Vikram Vetturi. The highlight of the session was how each speaker urged the audience to stretch their imagination and creativity to the maximum even as they use different tools and methods to create art.

It all begins with the story and so did the workshops.

The first presenter was Greg Acuna of Pala Flicks who is currently developing his Live Action cum Animation on his IP, Earthlings which is a 3D animation cum live action TV series for kids.

“The whole point of drama and storytelling is to establish a sense of what is going to happen next,” said Greg Acuna of Pala Flicks.

Talking about story development Greg began with the development of characters within the story. Watch all sorts of films whether good, bad or mediocre, it helps fine tuning your writing instincts in terms of determining how to establish the character. The antagonist has to be as motivated as the protagonist and there has to be a match up of the two.”



“One has to establish a connection and a sense of the characters that the audience can relate to and care about. A challenge facing the Indian animation industry is to look for subjects beyond mythology such as modern literature and the things happening around us.”


The key to a good story is to keep it simple, but it is also important to dream of complicated stories. The storyline in animated productions are generally linear and targeted at kids. One of the main things of production in animation is to know what the motivation and dramatic consequence is. “When you work on characters, an effort should be made to know everything about the characters, all the while keeping in mind to keep it simple. You have to figure out what the character wants.”


Greg touched upon various elements that need to be kept in mind while developing a story for a film. The first area that he tackled was the location of the story, followed by what sets the story in motion. According to him, it is of significance to keep in mind what starts the story and in order for the film to be a success it is a must to have interesting characters in addition to visual appeal. Under the structure of the story, Greg highlighted the set up, journey and resolution in which establishing the characters and dramatic need is of prime importance.


“Great writing is very subtle with characters interacting in a dramatic way. Showing and not telling is what makes the difference.” Coming to the plot, Greg was of the opinion that one has to think of the obstacles that will come in the characters way. In animation since the drive is fairly linear, barriers have to be woven into the story accordingly. ” India as we know has a rich mythological history which could be the new era if visually complimented. In terms of pushing storytelling to another level, other characters have to be kept in mind as well.”


Greg concluded with the topic of climax where he insisted that climax has to resolve the conflict/story.


Taking the stage after Greg was Shyam of Anirights who demonstrated and showed his skills of speed drawing.


It was a sight to watch Shyam blissfully involved, and all he had to convey was through his art.


The talented and popular P.C Vikram shared his experience of stylizing characters and the individuality that artists can breathe into their characters.


“Styling is a key part of life. It is the fashioning of animation, giving it a unique and strong flavor.” commented Vikram.


In Vikram’s opinion while stylizing a character, one can lose him/her self in the world of creativity and even go to a point where the artist becomes a recluse.


Assisting P.C Vikram during the session was Vinod of Anirights who said, “When you look at styling keep in mind the age group that you are designing for. Consistency is important.”


Continued Vikram, “Animation is a combination of contrasts. One of the fears and dangers of stylizing is going extreme, outlandish resulting in a creation that people cannot relate to.” Character design takes off from styling. Style is cyclic, evolves and it must be kept in mind that various styles are conjured to create a sense of excitement.


Siju Thomas of Virgin Comics kick started his discussion by highlighting the new methodology in polygon modeling which according to him is a more intuitive method than the previous ones.


The focus of Siju’s presentation was modeling characters using Z Brush with focus on shaping the perfect anatomy. According to him, one of the key drivers in developing characters is the cultural aspect. Siju also showed some of the fantastic work that he had done in character design.


An animated session on animation direction was by Vincent Edwards and Vikram Veturi of Anirights. “Animation is about film making. A story has a beginning, middle and end and is a blend of the activity between all three parts. A storyboard has the same relation to a finished film as a blueprint has to a finished house,” quipped Vincent.


Vincent explained the different camera angles that have to be taken into consideration while making an animation film. Taking the example of a duel between two cowboys, he acted out how scenes would look from different camera angles and the progression of scenes. While Vincent acted, Vikram sketched out the expression of characters.


The variety of skill sets that were discussed in this master class just goes to show the assortment of topics that were part of ABAI this year.


– Esha Birnur

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