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Talent Spotlights

Meet The Makers | Sumit Nayak, Team Lead FX, talks about his experience on The Croods: Family Tree

12 April 2022

The Croods : Family Tree – Season 2 has started airing on Hulu and Peacock on April 6th. The episodic team at Mikros Animation Bangalore have crafted and animated the season 1 and 2 of the brand new adventures of the Croods and the Bettermans as they overcome their differences. In this series of interviews, we invite you to meet the artists who brought the series to screen.

We sat down with Sumit Nayak, Team Lead FX at our Bangalore studio who talks about his career and his experience working on the show.

Could you please tell us a bit about your journey in the animation industry?

I have almost 15 years of experience in entertainment, spanning from CG TV series, CG movies, to VFX movies and advertisements. I started my career in 2008 as an FX Artist, and I’ve worked on animated shows like Tak, Twisted Whiskers, Ironman, The Jungle Book, Casper, Tinkerbell, Planes and Planes II, and Legends of Oz at other studios. I’ve been with Technicolor since 2018 as FX Lead and since then have worked on some fantastic shows, including Fast and Furious : Spy Racers!

I was fascinated by the way animation was back in 2000. Aladdin, Finding Nemo, Shrek, and Ratatouille were among my favourites, and it’s great to see how far animation has come!

Over the last decade, The Croods has become a full-fledged franchise for DreamWorks Animation. What was your first reaction when you learnt you’ll be working on a spin-off series of this world-renowned brand?

For me it was like a dream come true moment. When I saw The Croods movie in the theatre, I was awestruck by the style, details and of course, the FX. So, working on the same TV series was a great opportunity to showcase our work and create benchmarks for others.

From your unique perspective on the project, what makes this spin-off series special?

The best part of The Croods is its characters. They ensure not just kids, even adults enjoy watching it and can relate to it very easily. The cherry on top is really the sheer quality, colours, and all the amazing storylines.

Source: DreamWorks Animation

The Croods: Family Tree has a visual style very close to feature films. What were the main artistic and/or technical challenges you had to overcome in your department to achieve that style?

We received the references for most of the FX elements from the feature film. To match them and achieve that level of quality is itself a challenge for a TV series.  The show has a lot of elements which we had to incorporate—including dust, fire, and steam. Achieving the look of subtle dust, which wouldn’t not overshadow the shot was a major challenge. This is one of the few shows our team is working on FX assets for. We have spent a lot of time optimising the shots to integrate them optimally, in complex scenes with white water, waterfalls, lakes, and the like.

Do you have a favorite sequence? If yes, why did you pick this one?

There are many moments I love, but my favourite is the sequence of bounce berries in Episode 4, Season 1, where all the Croods are jumping and following punch monkeys. The camera angles, number of characters and FX all make that sequence beautiful.

Another superbly executed but complex scene was where we created a water interaction sequence in Episode 8, Season 1.

The production of The Croods: Family Tree has been impacted by the pandemic. How did you adapt to face all the constraints?

The production was affected a couple of times during the pandemic as the COVID waves impacted our teams, but our Heads Of Department and Production helped us a lot in getting extra hands on board to finish our work. My team also had some people who were alone in Bangalore and struggling. Our management supported them with work from home in their hometowns.

What are you looking forward to most with the show airing now?

I’m hoping that it receives as much love as the movie received. It’s a great partnership between DreamWorks Animation and Mikros Animation. It’s set new standards for quality, cooperation, and trust that I look forward to on more projects.

What’s next for you?

I’m not certain, but with our work on the show continuing, I’m excited to see what arises. I’m hoping we complete the show on a high note.

Discover more of our team members by visiting the Talent Spotlights section our website.