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Talent Spotlights

Meet The Makers | Parthiban Sundaram, Lighting & Compositing Lead, talks about his experience on The Croods: Family Tree

14 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 Parthiban Sundaram, Lighting & Compositing Lead 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’ve been in the studio here for 13 years, and in the industry for 15 years.

My first project was actually on an Indian animation movie, Gatothkatch with ace filmmaker Singeetham Srinivas Rao. It was a big moment for me, working on such a huge project. The last 15 years have been a roller coaster ride with many genres and styles of animation at various studios. I had the opportunity to work on some great shows and great brands, notably at Mikros Animation such as LEGO, Back at the Barnyard, Kung Fu Panda : The Paws of Destiny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie And the Pink Shoes, Spirit Riding Free, Adventures in Wonder Park and more.

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?

When I first heard this, I wanted to prepare myself in every way for this fantastic project. There was a huge learning curve, exploring and re-inventing the style from the feature film. The lighting in the feature film is amazing and depicting it in the series became my focus! Curiosity grew as we started the project and maintaining the quality of work became my goal as well. I am very happy to be a part of creating The Croods spin-off series.

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

The visual style is very different from any other projects I have worked on so far—the highly saturated colors, unpolluted environment, and the Stone age period. We managed to get very close to the feature film style. Timelines were a challenge, but as a team we pulled it off very well I must say. We have evolved significantly in terms of quality and technology.

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?

Every single episode has its own challenges in terms of both creative and technical aspects. The major challenges were with creating scenes that had never been done before in the feature films, such as the disco light setup, beach environment and different times of day on the show. Another task which involved a lot of additional strategizing was to show the scale of the farm with the environment details. Handling the crowd in a scene is always a special challenge and as a team we have nailed it so far within the timeline.

In terms of technical challenges, we had to increase the volume of the shots very rapidly while maintaining the same quality. So, we automated most of the manual process and we constantly trained artists to be aware of the tools and the show requirements. We created a template library to keep the teams in sync with all technical workarounds captured and to be followed by the smaller teams working together on the project. We also had to get everyone who had worked on different genres on the same page for the visualization aspect.

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

The very first episode which had set the show benchmark will always be special to me.
Every episode is unique in its own way and all of them are my favorites, for one reason or another. It’s been exciting to be a part of setting up the TV series pipeline for The Croods, and I’m glad that every episode works according to the setup we made as a team.

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

During the pandemic, working on The Croods: Family Tree was a bright spot for the team. It kept us all motivated and focused in a positive manner. We were excited to have this high-quality show to work on, and we kept our communication a priority so we could adapt to the work from home model. There were challenges with the pipeline we had to set up to facilitate this, but we were able to meet the requirements and the team carried this project very far even from home!

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

Appreciation is the best recognition for any artist. As a team we are happy and proud that we delivered The Croods: Family Tree. We’re looking forward to the rest of the show airing and watching our most recent work on screen!

What’s next for you?

I am happy to see where work takes me, whether I continue with another decade in episodic projects, or any other kind of creative challenge! We have amazing shows in production currently at Mikros Animation !

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