On a recent visit to the prestigious Industrial Design Centre (IDC) of Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai, we were more than a bit surprised to discover that most of the students in the first year of it's post graduate course in Communication Design had never used a computer before joining up, and that the veteran record amongst this elite student body was just two years of familiarity.
That's as good a touchstone as any on how tantalizingly close and yet still so far the "IT-Revolution" truly is for people in India today.
Mandar Rane's a young lad poised to secure a Post Graduate degree in communications design from the IDC this year, and here's his story:
"I graduated from Sir. J.J. Institute of Applied Arts in 1997, and immediately joined Tata Interactive Systems as a visualizer. That was the first time I worked on computers. During my graduation we were so accustomed to work on paper, that I found it difficult to work with Computers in the beginning.
"Computers have their own advantages and disadvantages as far as I'm concerned (a lot more advantages though!) .I sometimes find that using computers almost lessen my thought processes. One can so easily fall slave to all the filters offered by the software. And if you start thinking according to software capabilities you might turn yourself into a good operator rather than a designer. My experience so far suggests using computers as a tool to enhance ones thoughts. It is your tool to save on labor-work and add that time to your thoughts and ideas.
"Even a software like PhotoShop says "if you can dream it you can do it", because the same software, filters and effects provided will be used by people worldwide, but the ideas and the way they are used will be different. So my approach to computer-based designing is to have a clear idea of what one has to do, as well as what the computer as a tool can contribute to helping one do it better. Having a good knowledge of the software is of course also important to achieve success with your ideas.
"In my early days, the softwares I used were mostly web-design related. My job was mainly to design websites so the software used was mainly PhotoShop. When I started, we used to edit HTML pages in notepad or the Netscape editors. Now I use Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and most of the Macromedia softwares, which have made things really easy.
"When I am working with 3D I switch off to 3Dsmax, and when with video to Premiere or AfterEffects. So the preferred software is dependent on need. Knowledge about the software and the need of the idea, both go together in achieving the goal.
"I do believe that how to use software need not be taught to anyone. It should be either learned by exploring or working in a team. You learn it really fast in a team rather than exploring alone (by exploring I mean the capabilities of the software).
".. then I left Tata to join another company called Astrosoft (a startup) .Here I got the opportunity to work for the first time on Flash (the best software as far as I'm concerned, for animation on the web) I did my first Flash-based website (http:// www.astrosoftnet.com) in Flash 3. Here too the software was of great help because it created possibilities and triggered ideas. Then my major website assignment was www.orangepie.com, which we as a team really had fun working on.
"After that, I joined the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) here at IIT-Powai, Mumbai, as a post-graduate student of visual communications. The greatest advantage I find here is having people from different backgrounds coming together with varied experiences in the way they think through problems as engineers compared to us as BFAs. Plus at IDC you are exposed to various issues in design, which one can never gain enough of. It's about enriching ones knowledge and drawing guidance from the best professors at IIT.
"One more reason for my joining IDC was the freedom to work which one so rarely gets in the industry. You can dive into any area you would like to experiment with at IDC, and it all adds up to a major time in ones life when you really get an opportunity to prove yourself.
"My ambition right now is to create a movie named "In Search of God". My goal into the longer term is to do more concept-oriented ideas based mainly on human emotions and relationships. My most recent project is "Key-Children". It's a term that's often used to describe children who must stay at home alone taking care of themselves for some part of the day. Usually, they're the children of working parents. It is estimated over 40% of children are left home at some time ~ though rarely overnight. In more extreme situations, some children spend so much time without their parent(s) that these children are labeled "latch key children" - referring to the house or apartment key strung visibly around their neck.
And one more major reason for doing this project is that I too was a Keychild myself.
Artist & Designer
B-55 Anil Apartments (3rd flr.)
Naupada, Thane (W)
Mumbai - 400 602 (India)
Tel: (91-22) 542 5242