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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Lifelong Learner!

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Maria Athaide left us on the 3rd March 2018. A news that rekindled many memories of hers, during the span of interaction last few years. I met her first time when she was an academic consultant with the Azim Premji Foundation. I went to meet her at her office, and the moment she came to know that I had come to Bangalore for a conference to present a paper on educational animations, she immediately set up my interactive session at her office, and called her colleagues over. It was a classic example of her pursuit for knowledge! During my interactions later, I got many such examples!

She then invited me to her house and cooked most wonderful roasted eggplant slices, and choicest of chocolates as dessert! This meeting was also a trigger to a series of events, and her son Noel who was (just) a friend, became my brother-in-law (as he married my cousin: Pallavi).

During that stay with them, I realised that she was a curious learner. She not only wanted to know about new things (be it a craft, poem, teaching method, or even a new software), but also know it thoroughly! Every meeting always started with her question: What’s new?

After many years, when I shared the news of my first MOOC being launched on IITBombayX, she not only congratulated me, but also floored me when she said,

“I am going to enroll in your course. I have been thinking of learning animation for a long time now. It is a good time to start!”

She was 65+ that time, and an accomplished teacher already. She did not stop at mere verbal assurance, but surprised me one night, by asking about the installation process of the software I was using in the course. “I saw your first lecture”, she said, and added, “but I am unable to install the software”. I explained her the process, and she was up and going! I later reminded her to give feedback on my teaching, which she shared with some very pertinent comments!

Although technically, she was a ‘student’ in one of my online courses, Maria has taught me one of the most fundamental principles: Learning is a life-long process!

Rest in peace, You will always remain my inspiration to learn!

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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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!!

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…

When passed out students surpass the teacher!

There is a definite reason for the catchy title! Many students and even my animation friends often ask me, “What level have you attained in Blender?” I have to disappoint them by saying, “Not much beyond the basics”. They are flabbergasted! Many of them cannot believe their ears! Understandably so…because when you are known as a teacher in a particular domain, then it is a valid expectation that you excel in that domain! I have realised that I am not too good at the software, however, I can be a motivation for many, who want to achieve bigger things!

One such experience is worth sharing. Last year when I was offering the Architectural Visualization course on IITBombayX, I got a call from Solapur. This person was constantly asking me the difference of workflow/features between Sketchup and Blender. He was Atek!

After that call, I saw him take my course, and participating quite actively in it.

He was posting questions on the Discussion forum, as well as answering those which he could! I got another call after a week, and this time he was almost through with the Blender basics, and asking me for further ‘guidance’ to pursue his ideas! I gave him a few links and thought that was it..but NO. He used to come up with unique problems and questions, making me scratch my head and the net-pack to search all over the place and get him an answer!

After the course ended, we had found a good Discussion Forum Moderator in him, for the next offering, and he did that, quite nicely!

During that time, I started receiving well crafted images, but without a chronology of topic/theme. The images were quite good, and had a new challenge for all of us at the course team center! Have a look:

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One fine day I got the reason behind this. “I am creating imagery as a freelance 3D artist, based on the requirement of the client”, he told. Well, I was not so shocked this time, since I had met another student of mine, who was doing this as a source for his pocket money!

This post is an interview (by my colleague Amit Shukla) of this great artist: Atek, who will explain us the process he is following to create imagery as a freelance artist, the pros and the cons of this, and some pointers for others to follow. He can be contacted by clicking on his name to get his eMail ID.

Q: How to get online job for Blender modelling?

There are various websites available on the net such as www.upwork.com or www.freelancer.com etc, which offer such types of jobs by the clients. All we have to do is to create our official login/ ID for the same and proceed.

People from different professions have the liberty to search for jobs as per their specifications. For instance you may filter on whatever field you belong to such as Photoshop or MS word or any other relevant software and search of modelling jobs.

We have to work strictly as per the client’s requirement. We should not use our own preferences against what they have mentioned as their requirements. We can make suggestions but the result file has to be entirely as per their requirements.

I have also suggested Sameer Sir to create such similar login for IITBombayX so that students or interested people can make use of this site and earn.

Q: How to charge them? 

The rates/charges entirely depend upon the service provider’s budget. The specifications and charges are already mentioned on the webpage. These rates are either fixed or in the form of bids. For instance, they mention beforehand that ‘Although you are agreeing to perform this job in $5, we will accept the job of someone who is willing to provide the same quality in less than $5’.Here you have to make your choice.

Q: How to handle technical things? Such as bidding the cost, transferring files, and getting payment in your account? 

Money transfer is usually done in the form of PayPal or Western Union which again entirely depends upon the service providers/clients discretion. The charges for a particular job are always mentioned on the website against that job title.

Transferring your files and then getting the money deposited into your account happens entirely on the factor of trust. You have to trust them completely because at times it happens where they mention a condition that first you transfer your files and then only we will get the money transferred into your account. Again its your choice to proceed with it or withdraw.

There are also certain deductions in the final amount that you get, the bifurcation of which is duly mentioned on the page. For instance, the amount that certain website charges is also deducted from the final amount. So if you have performed a job of $100, you may probably get some $90/$92 after making the official deductions.

Q: Any tips on estimating the charges? 

No we cannot make any estimation regarding charges; we have to agree as per the rates fixed by the clients. It is the clients who offer the job with their pre-fixed rates in the form of fixed charges or bids and it is up to our own choice to accept it or not.

The only condition to getting things done smoothly is to strictly stick to the requirements of the client with no deviations in the result file.

All the very best Atek. You are an inspiration to many, and also the answer to those who keep asking, what should I do after I do this course! Thanks!