Seen the short animated clips during the IPL matches on TV? Where Dhoni, Virat, Russel and others engage in funny and interesting actions? Well, that’s Silly Point from Star, back with spoofs and quirky stories for this IPL season, executed brilliantly by Delhi-based animation studio Tavrohi Animations.
Riding on last year’s success of Silly Point, this year Star has created a fresh and enhanced look to the same show, with pre match and post match shows being integrated in the script. Based on research, Star scripted the entire show, while Tavrohi built upon it without disrupting the basic structure.
Talking to AnimationXpress, Star Sports Hindi content head Saumitra Shankar revealed about how the idea originated, “In Star we believe in storytelling. We try in different ways to tell a story in a manner that captures the imagination of a viewer and entertains him/her. So, Silly Point focuses on what happens in cricket or in any other sport, where a lot of things are said in different ways but there’s not enough visual reference; for instance – GAYLEstorm. Now we can’t show GAYLEstorm but sixes and four. There are things which don’t always have a visual representation, so the idea was, since we have big cricketers in the world playing against each other, how we tell the story in a manner nobody has thought of, and animation is the cool tool to do that. What animation does is that, gives you a freedom to your imagination. And Silly Point does the same – to tell stories in a new and innovative way.”
For executing this idea in animation, the Star team reached out to three to four agencies including Tavrohi Animations. Their timeline was 24 hours for the delivery of the entire clip, and none of them were comfortable doing that except for Tavrohi and that’s why the studio was chosen and the outcome is right in front of us.
Commenting on the process of this execution, Tavrohi Animations creative director Ravi Rao said, “This year we are following a particular theme for Silly Point which binds all the episodes together. We had been preparing for the execution for a couple of months in advance as the turnaround times for these movies is very less (say 24 hours) and a lot of stories depends on the outcome of the matches which are unpredictable. We have already delivered 20 movies since the beginning of the 2019 tournament and now are delivering at a rate of four to five movies per week.”
The animation format of Silly Point is 3D and Tavrohi is quite efficient in that. The style of animation is quite exciting to look at. Answering on why Star zeroed down upon animation as a medium to tell the stories for Silly Point, Star Sports broadcast design head Rakesh Jha mentioned, “Animation is a step beyond reality. It fans our imagination. What we can’t achieve or create in real life, we can do it in animation. That’s where Silly Point started from. It works very well and appeals to kids as well as adults. That’s one of the reasons why it works as the short form content on IPL. Even kids who don’t understand cricket, can relate to it as well as grown ups who understand and enjoy the game. Infact, lot of cricketers also talk about Silly Point during the pre and post match sessions.”
This time Star also enhanced the production value and improved the stylisation. Though the format and the stories are the same, this year the Star team was more sure of how to use the clips and stories. As Shankar added, “Since we have explored it for a couple of seasons, we were sure about the clips which were inter weaved with what was happening during the league. The animation, on the other hand has improved. In terms of content, it remains the same. More predictive stories than reflective, of what to expect in the game.”
Since the dates were announced months ago, the Tavrohi team had enough time to do some research on what kind of animated content is being consumed online and on TV. In fact, this time the themes and characterisation of Silly Point revolves around some of the hugely popular mobile and desktop multiplayer games.
Speaking on the this, Rao noted, “The core theme of these games is rivalry, which is also coherent with the IPL. Our team kept on bouncing ideas along with the Star creative team, during which the idea about popular video games was discussed. Drawing parallels from these games, we thought about some preliminary ideas, and using the popular terminologies from the games, we built our stories upon them. Once the scripts are approved, our asset team swings into action in building the backgrounds, layouts and creating script specific props. At the same time, the animation team starts planning the shot breakdowns and gags. Parallely our designers and animators also started exploring on the look development. By the time all the assets are textured, rigged and ready for animation, the animation team is ready to begin their process. The lighting team too gets started progressively as the animations are done and sent for render. This entire process typically takes about 24 hours under the supervision of our creative department.”
Given that the team worked under such short span of time to produce such episodes with quality stories told through animation, it’s understood that how challenging it must be for them. 3D animation is a laborious and time consuming process and the Tavrohi team addressed the issue by designing a production pipeline with super fast turnaround times.
Rao continued, “It is quite challenging as the scripts are written at the 11th hour and we have no room for any mistakes. For this reason all our teams are backed by a strong R&D team who are continuously on the lookout for any technical problems that might arise and provide quick solutions for the same. Because of the popularity of the show from last year, people do identify and relate to the characters very easily. One challenge here was in terms of character design, as it can not be drastically different from the characters from 2018. For instance, Dhoni is always calm and composed, Virat, Yuvraj are aggressive, Shikhar Dhawan has a Gabbar Singh attitude. So, we observed and studied the personality traits of all the key characters and incorporated these personas in the animation which makes them more believable and relatable. We decided to keep improvising a little bit every year to maintain consistency.”
With a projected number of about 50 movies and a compilation of all of them at the end of the tournament, Silly Point has proved that this trend of animated content is here to stay for sometime now. IPL has changed the way traditionally the game of cricket was perceived in India, and has additionally opened up several opportunities for businesses linked to it. The viewership of IPL has already crossed 250 million and is ever growing. Animated content in advertisement and short spoofs or funny clips on TV and online, has gained huge significance.
Asserted Jha, “Animation has a lot of work to do still. But yeah, now there’s a lot of scope in animation and is very well accepted, given the quality has improved a lot. Especially 3D animation and we’re trying to reach the international level.”
Rao added on the similar line, “With past year’s Silly Point we realised that there is good appetite for Animation in Indian audience. Moreover, India has one of the highest numbers of TV channels/platforms for consuming video content in the world and they are constantly looking forward for newer content.”
The animation industry in India is growing at an enviable pace with every passing day. Most TV channels as well as OTT platforms are demanding animated content as the market is niche but has gained huge attraction over the past few years and is continuing to do so. Thus, the trend has been in vogue presently as most of the makers want to explore the untapped genre that’s also beneficial for them in terms of revenue.
“At Star we always try to innovate new things. So animation is obviously one thing where we see new potential in it and we’re looking into it. There might be other innovations such as AR, VR and so on. We’re doing experiments in AI, city animation model and we’re planning to do it at a bigger scale. We’re exploring a lot of options and hopefully you’ll get to see something big soon. Silly Point was just the beginning. There has been positive feedback and that’s why we are hopeful to do something bigger in the future
Keeping fingers crossed to witness some great work down the line!