January 28-2020
Vaibhav Studios’ ‘The Nick Rap ident’ receives praise for being so ‘tapori’ on point!

There’s hardly anyone who isn’t fond of street food snacks! In India, ‘chai’ (tea) is incomplete without being accompanied by hot, mouthwatering snacks. Even independently, to grab a quick bite and fill our tummies, there’s no substitute to the tastes of Vada Pav, Paani Puri, Samosa and more.

But ever wondered what a fight between a Vada Pav and Samosa would look like? And, that too, a rap battle! Well, Vaibhav Studios’ new ident for kids broadcaster, Nickelodeon gives you a glimpse of the same. 

After a successful slew of funny, unique and adorable animated idents, Vaibhav Studios unveiled the latest ‘The Nick Rap ident’ on 17 January, and after its release, the animated clip has welcomed fantastic feedback and appreciation from across the industry. 

Mentions Vaibhav Studios founder Vaibhav Kumaresh, “Ever since its release, the response to the rap ident has been massive! The film has gone viral like crazy! – be it on the NICK India channel or the Vaibhav Studios YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.”

The team at Vaibhav Studios used the same animation technique of puppetry and 2D animation for this animated video like their previous films. However, they paid special additional attention to lighting, camera angles, music and lyrics since it’s a rap battle.

The software used were Adobe Animate, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Krita, while they shot on Canon 80D, Canon G7x mark2 and Sony A6000 cameras.

Directed by Dapoon Rai Dewan and Ajit Aher, ‘The Nick Rap ident’ is fresh, humourous and instantly grabs attention. Says he about the concept ideation, “Making animated music clips with real food items was the brainchild of our director Anand Babu. Two years ago, he made an experimental clip at home using pista, badam and shot it with his phone. Although crude, the idea excited us so much, that we decided to explore this style, and pitched a few ideas to Nickelodeon. One of them was this rap battle. We wanted to make it as local and raw as possible, and our Indian street food immediately came to mind. We researched many food items, and narrowed down to Vada pav and Samosa. Look wise, they had a lot of personality, we felt. So they became our obvious choice.”

It indeed takes a village to ideate, conceptualise and finally execute such an animated video with sheer brilliance. Here’s the team who worked on the ident :

Concept – Anand Babu

Direction – Dapoon Rai Dewan and Ajit Aher

Lyrics – The Bliss and Dapoon Rai Dewan 

Music and Sound Design – Roto Shah

Lead Voices – Vaibhav Kumaresh

Chorus – Dapoon Rai Dewan and Roto Shah 

Character Design – Anand Babu

Storyboards and Animatic – Dapoon Rai Dewan and Vaibhav Kumaresh

Model and set design heads – Tapas Jana and Bhavesh Gondaliya

Model makers – Avinash Gulhane, Rajib Debnath, Santosh Pujari, Ajit Aher

Lighting and Cinematography – Sagar Kulkarni & Jayesh Panchal

Camera – Abhijit Ghodke

Animation direction – Ajit Aher and Dapoon Rai Dewan

2D key animation – Dapoon Rai Dewan, Ajit Aher, Tapas Jana, Suman Manna

In between and cleanup – Jayesh Panchal, Rajib Debnath, Santosh Pujari, Aadarash Kumar

Live puppeteers – Ajit Aher, Dapun Rai Dewan, Tapas Jana, Bhavesh Gondaliya, Jayesh Panchal, Sweta Nayak, Santosh Pujari, Suman Manna, Anand Babu, Vaibhav Kumaresh

Cleanup and wire removal – Abhijit Ghodke, Sweta Nayak, Bhavesh Gondaliya, Avinash Gulhane, Rajib Debnath, Santosh Pujari

Colour Grading – Sagar Kulkarni and Jayesh Panchal

Compositing – Abhijit Ghodke

Production manager – Sweta Nayak 

Studio assistance – Baadal Chaurasiya and Hemlata Chandekar

Research and animation tests – Abha Shah, Annie Jerry, Sahil Sheikh, Dipantor Talukdar, Santosh Pujari.

Since the project included a lot of aspects, Dewan provided a proper breakdown of the key roles and responsibilities –

Lyrics and music: Since this was a rap battle, the lyrics and the music had to be the highlight of the film. The team asked a professional rapper ‘The Bliss’ to help them write some of the words. Even we contributed to the lyric writing and were happy with the final draft. Kumaresh added a lot of personality to both the characters as he rapped to the lyrics, while Roto Shah, the music director, elevated that to a whole new level with his super edgy beats and music. All of them infused so much life in the track, it gave us a lot of clarity on how to visualise the film.

Visual research: A small team went out to the market to document the overall ambience of a vada pav stall – the location, the props used, the lighting and so on. This homework was helpful in designing the location and staging of actions for the film.

Locking the edit: This was going to be a compact 30 second film with a lot of things happening, so we wanted to make sure the edit was locked down at the earliest. They didn’t want the film to feel too rushed or too busy. So the film went through several mock edits, with the animatic itself going through various revisions. Then a vada pav and a samosa was ordered and made a mock edit using phone cameras to see how the edit worked when shot in the real space. A mock lighting edit was done soon after, and eventually the final film was shot. The film evolved through the process and also helped us a lot in understanding what worked best for the film, and what did not.

Set Design: The team wanted to make the rap battle look like it took place on an actual food cart/stall. To enhance the authenticity, the production manager Sweta Nayak arranged for all the props necessary. The team then had to set them up with the right elements for each shot down to every minute detail, be it painting the menu board in the backdrop, or the dabbing of oil on the plates and newspapers, or the overflowing besan from the ‘kadhai’.

Model making: Because these films take a few days to shoot, the figured that real samosas and vada pavs would get soggy pretty quick. And if we keep ordering newer ones everyday, the main characters would look different in each shot, which is something they had to avoid. So the model making team, headed by Tapas Jana and Bhavesh Gondaliya created artificial samosas and vadas for the whole film. None of the samosas or vadas in the film are real. They’re all hand crafted so as to maintain consistency.

Rigging: Once the models were made, Jana took to rigging them. He figured out various ways to place wires, rods, threads inside or on the characters for easy manoeuvrability. For the main characters, they wanted rigid thick rods, so the puppeteers had more control while moving the characters. The team chose threads for the rest of the samosas and vadas. The Chutney ladies and the Mirchi boys were moved by thin wires. They also used threads so that it would be easier to remove them in post.

Puppetry: This film had a lot of acting, so the puppeteers shot a lot of acting videos to lock down the attitude of the main characters in each shot. This gave the puppeteers a clear reference for the body language when they were shooting. The studio members had a lot of happy accidents too, where they would get an even better acting accidentally. Each shot had numerous takes that we could fish through and eventually be happy with, while making the final edit.

Lighting: They paid special attention to lighting in this film. The lighting artists Sagar Kulkarni and Jayesh Panchal experimented with different styles for the film, as they wanted it to look as underground as possible, while still maintaining the feel of the roadside food stall. It was quite tricky because we didn’t want anything overexposed or burned out, like in an actual food stall. Another hurdle was to avoid the shadows of the puppeteers because it was shot in an extremely compact space. We did at least three rounds of lighting tests and locked down our final look.

Camera angles: The team watched a lot of rap music videos to study the various camera angles used, and tried to incorporate as many as we could here. We knew we wanted a wide angle shot, a dolly through a gully shot, a Dutch angle shot and more. The team had a lot of fun testing out these various angles and putting them all together.

Wire removal: Once the shoot is done and the edit is locked, the wire removal team began the task of removing the wires/thread of each character in each shot. Since green screens weren’t used on any of the shots, every wire had to be painstakingly removed manually frame by frame. It is admittedly the most arduous of all the stages.

2D animation: After the shoot, the 2D team also parallelly gets on with animating the facial expressions and hand movements on all the characters. Again, like in puppetry, the 2D animators had to refer to the acting videos to make sure they maintained the right attitude of the characters, and even take the liberty to elevate the acting as they see fit.

“Once it’s all done, we create a final line up of the edit with the soundtrack, and then hand it over to the client, Nickelodeon,” concludes Dewan. 

Given the huge success and popularity of its (The Nick Rap ident) predecessor, expectations are high from the animated studio who have wowed the audience and industry alike with their content and animatics. 

Adds Dewan, “We take each project independently as they come. Every film has a different language, a different world, and it’s important to understand that difference in order to do justice to them. So once we’re done with one film, we get onto another, and we get excited by the possibilities of that particular world. We did the same for ‘The Nick rap ident’ and explored every different option there. Basically just trying to have a lot of fun with it. One thing we make sure is that the idea of the film should excite us. Because it’s that excitement that sees us through till the end. Also we definitely try to do a lot of new things that we hadn’t done in the previous films.”

Nickelodeon too were equally excited about the project and the team at Vaibhav Studios got full support and coordination from Kids Cluster Creative Services vice president Suchita Karmokar and Kids Cluster On Air Promotions creative director Sanhita Das. 

Exclaims Kumaresh, “Team Nickelodeon India was pretty excited with the entire campaign idea that we had pitched to them two years ago. The rap ident was pitched to them with a scratch track along with the designs of the two main characters to get them excited. And they did get really excited!”

Vaibhav Studios continues to entertain us with feel-good yet spunky content. After ‘Rock band’, ‘Idli Sambar’ and ‘Garba ident’, ‘The Rap ident’ too strikes the right chords.

So, animation lovers, who’s your favourite snack – the vibrant Vada Bhau or the mighty Mosa Bhai?