New additions to the course

Kaumudi and I had received many suggestions and comments of augmenting the animation course. Therefore we decided to add few new videos which will discuss animation principles and their application. The current course that we are offering on edX was a good chance to undertake this  augmentation process. Kaumudi initiated a new video which will talk about the principle of anticipation followed by an example where it can be applied.

48CC06C9-71C2-41A0-8CCF-30FFE9129699We are done with it and the videos are almost ready for release this Friday. The learners who have enrolled in course available on IITBombayX need not worry, since this video will also be added to the course which is offered there.

We will share the feedback of the learners who have a look at it with all of you very soon.

Keep watching this space

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Salute Indian Girls

Women’s Day was full of messages, wishes, posts, political opportunism, which was quite melodramatic. There were lots of debates stating the pros and cons. I had almost decided of ignoring it however, while going through the data from my course on edX, I found something worth sharing.

We all are concerned about the current state of education in our country, however we should remember that the deprived lot always has fire in their belly to catch up. I witnessed this when I compared the data sets of my course offered on IITBombayX and edX. I have offered this course on IITBombayX five times so far and over 17000 learners have enrolled.

Data shows that 35% of female learners have enrolled in these courses. When I compare this with the edX course, it shows that 22% of female learners have enrolled in the course.

This data (see the screenshots below) may not be conclusive enough however it shows a positive of our country where more girls are striving for knowledge upgrade to modern avenues such as MOOCs. This also triggered my interest to see the completion rates of male and female learners in the courses. will come back on this in a new post later. For now, all I can do is salute the Indian women for their vijigishu (विजीगिषु) approach!

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A full circle

img_0851.jpgIn 2007 I bumped into this free and open source 3D animation software Blender. It was one of my colleague Malathy Baru who told me about this since I was an animator. I did download and install, however I gave up very soon owing to a bizarre looking interface which was not allowing me to interact properly.  Worst was the object selection which is ‘right click’ in Blender, instead of the conventional practice of left click.

In 2008-2009 three passionate students (Karan Mulchandani, Priyam Mukhopadhyay, and Gokul Menon) came to me. They wanted to do  their undergraduate project in animation with me. I wanted to work in Blender, however did not have enough interest since I was alone. I challenged the students to learn basics of Blender in a weeks time and then come to me. To my surprise they did and as promised I had to guide their undergraduate project.

img_0845.jpgWe decided will explore Blender since it was looking interesting now. We did a project which conventionally would not have fit into the definition because we created a video  showing the scientific experiment of ammonia fountain. We also teamed up to create series of workshops to teach and popularise this wonderful software Blender.

Along with the initial set of three students and subsequent batches of students which kept on coming as a result of this first project we made it a practice to conduct workshops for Blender popularisation in colleges. Live just came in a full circle yesterday when two of my students conducted a full fledged Blender workshop for over 30 students at Raisoni University near Nagpur.

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The two students: Rohan Bang and Shubham Mundara used the videos available on the IIT Bombay X course. They added lots of hands on  on sessions for the benefit of the students.  The workshop was an instant hit and the students just loved the software.

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Rare opportunity!

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On 8th Nov, I had an excellent opportunity to share the podium along with none other than Padmashree Dr. Deepak Phatak. It was a webinar hosted by the Government of India as a prelude to the forthcoming global conference. The topic of the webinar was: accessible ICT, and Prof. Pathak had requested me to share my experience of interventions we had created recently in this domain.

I have presented to projects which I have work recently on. The first one is an animated tutor for learning Indian Sign Language (ISL) called as Fingerspelling. Five Summer intern students (Romeo, Tejas, Bhuvanesh, Suchismita, and Nitin who mentored them) worked relentlessly to create this useful intervention. Apart from the animation and the interactivity which goes in the creation of the application the students also visited a school where hearing and speech impaired students tested our product and found it useful. Please use the following links to know more about this app:

Online version | Downloadable version | Report

I also spoke about another interesting project I’m part of. It is a science popularisation and adoption initiative using ICT. We have chosen the pioneering work by Prof. Arvind Gupta (IUCAA, Pune). The team at Kintel Inc, led by Ashay Sahasrabudhe has created 50 videos using ISL. Jidnyasa Trust (Thane) has designed workshops for the faculty members of the special schools explaining the process of adopting these videos in the classrooms. Since, the final production is underway, I will provide the links soon.

Please share these projects with others so that they can access them.

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Uncommon feat of a Common man: Dr Vilas Padhye

A year back, I got a call from my cousin, that a filmmaker needs to talk to me about a film on the topic of ‘Save the Tigers’. It turns out to be Dr. Vilas Padhye, a professor of psychology who is a passionate wildlife lover. He had written, and composed a song explaining a story of a tiger cub: Bobby. Dr. Padhye’s daughter and his son recorded this poem, and the impact was touching!

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We were quite sure to use animation as a visual medium, however the question was to get a team for this project, who can devote the kind of time it requires. I was a big fan of the awesome trio from Weybec Studios: Pratik SolankiNita Ravalji, and Niyal Parmar. I asked them, and they jumped in with equal amount of passion for the film! Apart from the important cause of the film, I was extremely happy for another reason.

The technology platform was decided as Blender. Thus, this film is probably the first Indian 3D animated music video created using Blender.

As an evangelist of this software, I am proud to invite you all to have a look at the finished product to be released soon!

The production was at a slow pace, however, the team was constantly working on perfecting every look, motion, and angle to provide the finesse. This passion for perfection is evident in the final product, and I am sure you all will agree with me, that this is one of the best animated videos produced in India, by Indians. I am happy to see that the project is ready for the launch now, and the look seems promising! Have a look at the trailor released this week, and keep yourself updated by visiting their site: www.letssavebobby.com, and also on their Facebook page.

As mentioned in the promo, it is indeed:

An initiative by a common man,
and his family, and friends, and friends’ friends,
and their friends, and more friends…

Let us be their friends, and join hands to make this message reach to billions!!

Kaumudi’s Creations

Kaumudi has been exploring the 2D animation feature of Blender called as Grease Pencil. She has picked up this task of creating an introductory animation for the homepage of the language learning website: http://www.dwibhashi.org. This website helps learning a new language with the help of the language you know already! Kaumudi has done most of the reference images for the site already, however, to give a relevant graphic look, the site team decided to have a small animated GIF to be displayed on the home page. The decision was to have a festival depicted in the animation.

Kaumudi started off last year around the same time last year to explore Blender Grease Pencil. As an added attraction, she also finalised two characters a boy (Dwi), and a girl (Bhashi) to be shown in each of the animation. The task was quite difficult, since there were not many resources available to learn this on your own. However, Kaumudi persisted, and tried various methods to bring Santa to life in the month of December.

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Next month was January, and the topic was the Makar sankranti! Kaumdi tried the kite flying animation. The Grease pencil features of 2D animation were helpful, however, it was a uphill task to achieve a finished look for the animation.

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She also added one more animation in a record time, on the eve of the Republic Day. I chipped in with a 3D animation of the fluttering flag as a background for this animation!

26Jan_Final_Watermark-giff.gifFebruary was for the Holi! The biggest challenge in all these animation is its requirement of playing in a loop. It was a new challenge to animate the colours on the clothes  in a loop! Kaumidi used a tree as a prop to hide Dwi, in this short gag she animated!

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In March, since not a particular festival was to be depicted, she created a generic animation of the children (Dwi and Bhashi) playing the skipping over the rope game! This has been used as a filler, in case a new animation is not available.

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Come April, and Kaumudi moved Northwards, and animated the famous dance moves for the Baisakhi!! The characters were shown in the traditional Punjabi costumes in the green fields!!

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Month of May was a holiday, when we were traveling, and Kaumudi had to ask for the repeat of the rope skipping animation to be displayed once again. During our trip to Barcelona, we met one of the gods of Grease Pencil: Daniel Larra! Kaumudi shared her experience of using Grease Pencil, and got some interesting tips from the grandmaster!

June was showing the Eid-E-Milad animation after rejuvenating trip of Europe! Kaumudi had also learnt about a new software: Krita, which is an excellent option for Photoshop (especially for drawing and painting).

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July month was reserved for the Rakhi-pournima! A huge backdrop of the full Moon, made both characters look pretty! The animation of the flame was interesting.

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August was hectic, since Kaumudi was also playing a host to Lord Ganapati at our house! The animation had more motion than ever, and she tried to depict the new craze of the girls playing the big size drums in the Ganapati processions! We released the GIFs as a teaser, by adding one character at a time, and soon it was an instant hit!

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Since the calendar shifted this year, we had the Navaratri in September. Kaumudi picked the Raavan Dahan as the topic, and Dwi-Bhashi were shown hitting the Raavan with their arrows!

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October has Diwali this year, and Kaumudi is ready with yet another animation. The speciality of this animation is that it is created entirely using the free drawing software: Krita!

 

 

Teaching-Learning at scale

Red leafJust checked the course enrollment page on http://www.iitbombayx.in, and was pleasantly surprised to see that 3000 participants have enrolled for the course. It is NOT a big deal anymore to have thousands of students. Well known fact that merely 8-10% of the MOOC participants actually complete the course, has made me think about two important issues:

  1. What will be the components of the course, which these large number of participants (from various parts of the country) will find interesting enough to complete the course?
  2. What are those components (present or absent) which will refrain the participants from completing the course?

I would seek your comments on the same, in order to address this important problem faced internationally! I would wait for your comments. Later I will edit this blog post (by referring your comments), to complete this thread, that I have started!

Keep those comments coming in…