Childhood favourite brings design award for student animator
By Tim Pilgrim, University for the Creative Arts and Education UK
28 July 2014
When The Owl and The Pussycat sat down to recount their voyage in a pea-green boat, little did they know they were headed towards award success.
But when Computer Animation Arts graduate Urvashi Lele (right) collected the Screening Prize at the prestigious New Designers Awards, that’s exactly where they ended up.
Urvashi, from Mumbai, India, produced her award-winning film An Interview with The Owl and The Pussycat as her final undergraduate project at the University for the Creative Arts.
Initially released in 1871, Edward Lear’s classic British poem The Owl and The Pussycat has inspired stories and characters from a number of famous names, including Beatrix Potter, A.A Milne and Eric Idle.
'To make sure that I wouldn't be bored of the project halfway in, I decided to make an animation about a poem that was, and still is, very dear to me since my childhood. The Owl and The Pussycat is a piece that I can still recite from memory.'
Urvashi, 22, originally looked to study in the USA, but found no courses that suited her interests.
Her parents were also anxious about her moving so far away, so she decided on the UK – and, she says, has never looked back.
‘India and the UK have quite a large bit of history in common,’ she says. ‘I found that life in the UK was easy to adjust to, having lived in Mumbai for 18 years of my life.
‘The UK is filled with international students because there is something for everyone here, and I think a lot of countries share a history with the UK and there are many cultural similarities between them, which makes it a lot simpler.
‘Don't get me wrong,’ Urvashi adds. ‘It was hard moving to a completely different country on my own.
‘But I loved the independence and met so many different people from different walks of life; it helped me grow as a person.'
Danced by the light of the moon... Urvashi shows some of the Pussycat's best moments (Picture: UCA)
When Urvashi first arrived in the UK, it was to study Theatre Design, but she decided it wasn’t for her and switched to a BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts at UCA’s Rochester campus.
She began to hone her animation skills, developing her technique on professional software packages.
‘I had fiddled around with Adobe Photoshop a bit in the past, but I had no experience using Autodesk Maya or Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects,’ she said.
‘By the time I finished my film, I had created all of the 3D models in Autodesk Maya and composited the scenes using Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro.'
It was towards the end of her three-year degree that her tutor, Phil Gomm, suggested she enter her work into the New Designers exhibition in London, an annual event which features work from recent graduates across the UK and attracts nearly 18,000 visitors.
‘It is wonderful knowing that a project which I spent a year of hard work on got appreciation from the people of the industry. I could not be more ecstatic,’ says Urvashi.
‘Two of the judges, Mark Henderson [a documentary film-maker] and Adam Attew [founder and creative partner at Pipe Dreams Productions] are individuals established within the UK TV and film industry.’
Urvashi also took the opportunity to network with representatives of Sky Broadcasting, Framestore and Bluezoo studios.
The whole process of completing her animation degree and collecting her award has helped her ‘find herself’, she says, and she plans to carry on with animation ‘a lot’.
‘There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your characters come to life,’ says Urvashi.
‘As cheesy as that sounds, after studying Computer Animation at UCA, I've finally realised that this is exactly what I want to do with my life.’
An Interview With The Owl and The Pussycat- Revised Edition from Urvashi Lele on Vimeo (Video: Urvashi Lele)
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