L to R: Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, Ashish Kulkarni and Chaitanya Chinchlikar

AnimationXpress has been a torch bearer in connecting the entire animation, visual effects, gaming, comics, XR, industries via virtual round tables, webinars, summits and awards. Right from organising Kids, Animation & More (KAM) Summit, ANN Awards for animation sector, Comic Books & More (CBAM) Summit and Awards for comics to VFX & More (VAM) Summit & Awards and Metaverse, Gaming, Esports & NFT (MGEN) Summit, and Games, Esports & Meta (GEM) Awards, no field has been untouched. And to reach out to the youth/the young talent of all these industries – the education sector – Animation Xpress organised the first edition of the EduSpark Summit & Awards in 2022. This year, it was back with this education IP – EduSpark 2023.

The second edition of EduSpark Summit and Awards was conducted on-ground on 24 June 2023 at Sheila Gopal Raheja Auditorium in Bandra, Mumbai.

With the theme of “Education: Entering a Golden Age,” the event aimed to understand the changing educational scenario with the new education policy, advent of AI, evolved mindsets and acceptance of new career options in the world. The summit and awards were graced by students, education institutes as well as industry experts with a turnout of 1000 plus attendees. Comprising fireside chats, masterclasses, competitions and panel discussions that were a mix of the AVGC industry and the education sector, EduSpark Summit 2023 was an insightful affair.

Utpal Chakraborty

The event began with the inaugural session followed by the launch of Work Konnects by Animation Xpress founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil NM Wanvari. National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) chairman Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe delivered a keynote address on the Importance of Creative Content Creation for Exciting Learning. After this was a fireside chat between Sahasrabudhe and Punnaryug Artvision founder and FICCI AVGC forum chairman Ashish Kulkarni along with Whistling Woods International vice president & business head, CTO & head of emerging media Chaitanya Chinchlikar.

A special address on M&E Education in the Era of AI was delivered by Gartner ambassador and Inteltie Technologies co-founder and chief technology officer Utpal Chakraborty. Next up was a panel discussion on the same topic, comprising speakers: Pixion ex-CEO, entrepreneur, advisor and investor Gitanjali Sehgal; MIT Institute of Design, Immersive Media Design (IMD) HOD and professor Shakti Banerjee, Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology principal and professor Bala Krishna Annaluri, and Whistling Woods International’s Chinchlikar. The session was moderated by Daffodil International University, Dhaka strategic adviser and professor, and Global Media Education Council, International Online University, Dubai executive director Ujjwal Anu Chowdhury.

L to R: Shakti Banerjee, Gitanjali Sehgal, Ujjwal Anu Chowdhury, Bala Krishna Annaluri and Chaitanya Chinchlikar

Next was a panel discussion Nurturing Artistic Talent, moderated by 88 Pictures co-founder and COO Aby John. The speakers of the session were Citrus Ink founder and CEO Vrinda Sood; Edge Metaversity senior advisor, UPES, School of Modern Media, Distinguished Adjunct Professor & Member – Advisory Board Viveck Vaswani; Aptech executive director and president Dr Anuj Kacker; Assemblage creative director and Vaanarsena Studios and School senapati Vivek Ram; and TCS iON Vocational Education business unit head Chandramouli B. The session threw light on the steps that need to be taken to build a sustainable and thriving creative industry in India, with a focus on innovation and growth.

L to R: RajaSekhar Buggaveeti, Vrinda Sood, Viveck Vaswani, Dr Anuj Kacker, Aby John, Vivek Ram and Chandramouli B

A session on Principles of Animation was conducted by animator, visualiser and an ITM faculty Pallavi Naik.

Skilled animation and VFX artists are witnessing new doors opening with each passing day. In the next panel New Avenues for The Artistic Community, top minds explored various career options in the creative industry. The panel saw Photo Imaging News, India editor and independent marketing consultant Vimal Parmar; FTII, Pune, Center for Open Learning executive head Dr Milind Damle; Hero Vired program director Ajay Kumar Srinivasan; Creative Multimedia founder and CEO Rajasekhar Buggaveeti; 650 ML Studios founder and visual artist Mihir Lele; and P. A. Inamdar College of Visual Effects design and arts dean Dr Rishi Aacharya as speakers. The panel was moderated by Silica Institute, Division Of Edit Systems director Radha Rege.

Pallavi Naik

How are top minds associated with school education shaping the foundation years of  tomorrow’s leaders? Directorate Of Education Govt of NCT of Delhi regional director and Delhi Board Of School Education CEO K.S. Upadhyay, Mar Thoma Vidya Peeth principal Manoj Pillai, Army Public School, Mumbai principal Lakshmi Madhuri Chatti, D.A.V. Public School, Airoli principal Suman Pradhan and Datta Meghe World Academy principal Rajeev Garg spoke about the importance of creativity and vocational education in the session titled Building Blocks of Getting it Right at Primary and Secondary Levels. The session was moderated by Animation Xpress’ Anil Wanvari.

EduSpark Summit saw two interesting sessions that proved useful for the students: Power of Focus Education by Starblast Animation LLP head of education Arijit Saha, and Rise of Open Source Culture by Vaibhav More Films founder and director Vaibhav More.

In the panel titled Getting the Ideal Mix of Creative and Business, industry leaders and educationists threw light on the importance of understanding the creative, technical and the business aspect of any project. The discussion was moderated by Amar Chitra Katha president and CEO Preeti Vyas with the panelists phantomFX founder, CEO and VFX supervisor Bejoy Arputharaj; Atlas SkillTech University animation & VFX program director Riddhesh Adarkar; Prime Focus Academy of Media & Entertainment Studies (PFAMES) director Abhishek Malhotra along with Starblast’s Arijit Saha. 

The last panel of the day was The Rise of Esports Careers: Exploring Opportunities. Panelists for the session were Orangutan Gaming co-founder Jai Shah; Gamerji product head Harsh Chauhan; caster/host Piyush “Spero” Bathla; Revenant Esports founder Rohit Jagasia; gamer/content creator Emperor Plays; and Trinity Gaming co-founder and COO Shivam Rao. The session was moderated by Skyesports PR manager Wasif Ahmed. Panelists discussed all the various kinds of roles that youngsters can take up in gaming and esports companies, apart from just being professional gamers.

AnimationXpress had invited entries from various institutes for student showreels created by their final year students under VFX, animation and game design category. Of these entries, industry experts selected the top three and reviewed them live in the most awaited segment of EduSpark 2023 –  Live Student Showreel Review by Industry Professionals. The jury for animation included Aby John and Vaibhav More. The VFX jury members were Framestore India CG supervisor – film and episodic Prashant Nair and philmCGI compositing supervisor Om Kangone. The game design category had three jury members – Reliance Games senior vice president Ninad Chhaya, Storypix founder & CEO Vaibhav Chavan, and GodSpeed Games lead game designer Ganesh Shukla. The jury members picked a winner in each of these categories – Subhasis Dey from Starblast Animation won in animation, Raj Gaurav Oran from Central Institute of Technology, Kokrajhar won in VFX and Atharva Chaudhary from Arena Animation Andheri won in game design.

After this, the winners of Digital Painting and Mobile Filmmaking competitions were announced. The digital painting competition was sponsored by Wacom and the winners received a Wacom tablet each. The mobile filmmaking was sponsored by Whistling Woods International and the winners got access to online certification programs from the institute. A lucky draw by Creative Multimedia awarded the two lucky winners with a book each. The event concluded with EduSpark Awards which honoured the changemakers who have contributed towards molding the education system in the fields of animation, VFX, Gaming, eSports, Web3 and E-learning.

The associate partners for EduSpark 2023 were Wacom and ITM Institute of Design & Media; skill partners were MAAC and Arena Animation; career guidance partner was Creative Multimedia; gaming partner was Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology. The support partners were TCS iON, Toonz Media Group, Prime Focus Academy of Media and Entertainment Studies, P. A. Inamdar College of Visual Effects, Design & Art, Whistling Woods International, Starblast Animation, Huion; community connect partners were Media & Entertainment Skills Council, Asifa India and Women In Animation; and festival partner was DigiCon 6 Asia.