A month back, I got a call from Prof. Phatak’s office, that he wants to see me urgently!! It was 8:30 PM, and not very unusual. What was unusual, was the reason, he had summoned me for. Ministry of Culture, Govt of India, wanted us to develop a webportal about eminent personalities of India. The first task assigned was, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Huge amount of data was on the way from New Delhi, which was accumulated from the National Archives, numerous libraries, and many other locations. The overwhelming size of the data was one of the biggest challenge, which a big team (under the guidance of Prof. Sunthar) was working tirelessly.
During, one of the brainstorming sessions, I mentioned to Prof. Phatak, that can we have a thematic animation as an introduction of this site, and this would be about the mammoth task of Sardar, to unite India! He nodded his head in affirmation, and asked me the question, “How do you want to show it?”. I showed a video clip (a popular forward, some months ago) which shows an elephant wire structure from one side, and two giraffes when seen from the other. I said, “We can show various maps (cut out in metallic plates) of the princely states in the front, and when we turn, the thickness of these maps, will create Sardar’s face!”. And he immediately liked it!
But the main challenge was to get it in to reality! I decided to request the participants of SKANI101x, to help me in this hour of challenge, and they came in large numbers! I received response from over 25 participants, from various parts of the country, who were ready to burn their midnight oil, and help us. We started off with the biggest challenge: getting the map outlines..! Finally, my design team, came up to the rescue. Sandeep, Bhairav, along with Siddhesh, and another Sandip started to create the map outlines in a PNG format.
I created a shareable folder, where I had uploaded the 150+ map outlines. Participants were supposed to download one at a time, enter the name of the file they have downloaded. Create a 3D model using Blender, (matching the technical specifications given), and upload the image render + the 3D mesh file. An IITB student (Prashant), coordinated this complex task! And within flat 4 days, we were done with the models.
The second stage was to apply the texture, carefully to the 3D maps (UV mapping). A subset of participants were ready for this. Prof. Anand, (another participant from Chennai), took time out of his teaching and other college duties, to coordinate this stage along with Prashant! Prof. Anand, even created a small tutorial to help those, who were NOT well versed with the UV mapping process.
Together, they managed to deliver the final set of 3D models in time. The animator, was Kavita, who then got in to action of animating these 150+ models. In fact, she had to make them look like 500+ objects. After multiple iterations, she got the animation in the right format, as we required! I did the final compositing, and rendering to get it in to the shape, which was then delivered to the web development team. Although I have managed to write about this phase in 3 lines, it actually took 3 weeks, and many, many iterations in terms of speed, dimensions, file size, or compression!
Today, I am happy to report, that the website: https://sardarpatel.nvli.in, was inaugurated by Hon. Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi. The introduction animation plays immediately, when you launch the website. Have a look and give your suggestions!