There is no denying that we live in an altered world – one where thinking out of the box signals our best chance at success.
To prepare our children for a tech-driven future, it is imperative that we equip them with the right skills they need to thrive. Toonz Academy, the animation and visual arts training division of Thiruvananthapuram-based Toonz Media Group, was quick to realise the importance of creative and lateral learning methodologies.
It launched Ri8brain, an edtech platform exclusively meant for training in the creative arts, in May 2021. In a span of just two months, the platform claims to have registered over 1,000 users, across age groups and skill levels.
P Jayakumar, CEO of Toonz Media Group, says,
“Ri8brain is a highly agile online education platform that will carry over the legacy of Toonz Academy, which is a pioneer in animation training in this part of the world. With Ri8brain, our vision is to transform the lives of creative people and artists by upskilling them and making them employable.”
Since its launch in 1999, Toonz Media Group has been associated with IP development, production, and distribution of digital and gaming content, augmented and virtual reality experience creation, and animation training.
Its most note-worthy collaborations include award-winning international projects with the world’s leading entertainment studios, channels, and networks, including Marvel, Nickelodeon, Turner, Disney, Netflix, Dreamworks, Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, BBC, Amazon, Google, Hulu, HBO and Exodus Film Group.
In a conversation with YSWeekender, P Jayakumar shares insights on the importance of creative education, and what Ri8brain has to offer in this space.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YSWeekender(YSW): Creative and lateral thinking have not been encouraged much in traditional education. Can edtech change this?
P Jayakumar: Creators have always thought out of the box, and now, with edtech platforms, they can easily be connected to consumers of knowledge, so everyone has the chance to learn something that they could not earlier. With the advent of technology-based learning, the possibilities are endless. Gone are the days when we would rely on text books and schools to prepare us for real world problems. Now these problems are solved by minds that are not limited by boundaries of imagination or ability.
YSW: What does Ri8brain offer that other edtech platforms do not?
Jayakumar: Ri8brain is an edtech platform exclusively meant for training in creative arts. We offer online collaborative learning in varied creative segments. The curriculum is curated by industry experts to fit the needs of particular target groups. We also have eminent mentors from various industries with both production and training experience. The content used for training, is from live studio projects, which is something they will not be able to find anywhere else.
YSW: What are your most popular courses and why do you think they are popular?
Jayakumar: From our professional courses, the most popular ones are Animation Film Making Comprehensive, Character Animation, Character Designing, Environment Designing, Background and Props Modelling and Compositing for films. They are popular because these skills present numerous job opportunities. There is also a high demand for animators and asset creators for animation films, live action films, games, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Specific to VFX, we offers programmes on Rotoscoping, RotoPaint and Match Move, which are highly demanded skills in this sector.
Beginners tend to choose courses like Mandala Drawing, Doodling, Life Skills, Flip and Animate. These courses aim to sharpen the skills of young learners, making them realise that opportunities are endless when it comes to creativity.
YSW: What have been the challenges you have faced in establishing yourself in the overly-competitive field of edtech?
Jayakumar: We are quite new in the edtech arena, so we hesitate to call ourselves established. However, we are excited about translating our expertise in on-ground teaching to the e-learning mode. There are around 20 people that comprise the core tech and academic teams at Ri8brain, and collectively, we hope to make the learning journey of our mentees optimal and fulfilling.
It is difficult to make a firm foothold in the industry, but we have been spreading the word through digital campaigns including social media and other digital media platforms. We are also working with various institutes, and partnering with like-minded and reputed entities in the area of higher education and vocational training to make our presence felt in the market.
YSW: Tell us about your courses. To what age group do you cater to? How can one access them?
Jayakumar: Our Explore segment of courses for beginners is targeted for the age group of 6-16, while our Excel courses for aspirants and young professionals are targeted at everyone above 16 years of age. They can be accessed through our website Ri8brain.com as well as our app. Our beginner courses begin from Rs 3,500 and our professional offerings can go upwards of Rs 1 lakh.
YSW: You teach social skills online - how do you ensure that practical results of your teachings play out in real life situations?
Jayakumar: Our mentors create case studies based on real-life scenarios and experiences, so that they are able to apply what they have learnt in their daily lives. We also have course-specific evaluations and recommended learning journeys to optimise their experience with us.
YSW: How have your courses been received by your customers so far?
Jayakumar: The reviews of our customers are a testament to how well our platform has been received. Dr Popy Dutta, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, signed her son up for our Life Skills sessions. She told us that her son has been positively influenced and motivated to become better in all spheres of life after this course. From arranging his toys back in their place after playing, to displaying compassion towards his friends, there have been numerous changes witnessed in his behaviour.
Another parent, Priamvada Gajaraj, enrolled her nine-year-old daughter for a Doodling class. She was impressed with how engaged her daughter was with the class, showing off her doodles to her grandmother and friends. She especially thanked us for opening up a new avenue of creative expression for her daughter through a unique mode.
YSW: What other areas of edtech are you looking at exploring?
Jayakumar: We hope to add more courses to the platform, while ensuring that creative learning remains our specialty. Though currently we are India-focussed, Ri8brain is a global platform and in a year, we hope to expand our geographical footprint. As our parent company, Toonz is a globally reputed family entertainment company. We have offices around the world and our network covers all five continents. Our partners, customers and collaborators include the top-most brands and names in the entertainment industry, which makes us hopeful that Ri8brain will be a success world over.
Edited by Anju Narayanan