Pdingpdoong from the National Institute of Design is one of only two films in the CBTV Student Festival that has more than one director. It actually has four of them: Krishna Chandran A. Nair, Manasi Parikh, Nupur Mukherjee, and Chewang Lepcha. We really enjoyed the film’s sweet-natured celebration of diversity along with the ability of the filmmakers to create expressive and cartoony expressions and movement through stop motion. The distinctive soundtrack is also a highlight and adds greatly to the finished film.

Here is a group statement from the filmmakers about their work:

Back in 2008 in our second year, we were all waiting for December when Vaibhav Kumaresh, one of India’s most fun animators, would come to conduct a stop motion workshop at our school, the National Institute of Design. This would be our first ever film and we all couldn’t wait to get started! Pdingpdoong is what spurned out of bouts of madness for about four months.

As we flipped through sketchbooks for ideas, an illustration of conjoined twins excited all of us at once. Research led us to twins Abigail and Brittany, who shared a body and had such fantastic co-ordination and rhythm that if we could hear it, it would surely sound musical. Inspired, we decided to create a musical that would celebrate the lives of all such twins in the world.

After storyboards, character sketches, animatic, colour keys, set building, model making and lighting, we were all set to start shooting (which commenced with the traditional Indian ritual for good luck, breaking open a coconut by slamming in on the floor!).

Our film involved eleven sets in all and we had to spend an unanticipated amount of time lighting each set to suit the day’s transition. We also had a tough time making the kids walk as they had two large heads and one set of tiny legs. The most fun was working with expressions; the twins had to get as naughty as they could! Each expression was sculpted in every frame as opposed to replacing them which gave us a lot of freedom in getting just the right one. We didn’t work with a dope sheet, and ended up working with our instincts instead! It felt nice when some audiences said they liked the spontaneity in the film; we’re glad it came through.

The next part was composing the music, which ended up being the toughest bit. We’d animated on an approximate tempo of 120 beats per second, but what were we thinking when we thought we’d manage to compose the entire music track ourselves? Frustrated, we eventually had to turn to a music composer. Usually music and animation is worked on simultaneously, but since the animation was already done we had to go through a lot of edits before the film was musically correct. The music had to be created by the things the twins did, which is why we were looking for raw sounds and not instruments. Clanging utensils, soda bottle pops, salt and pepper shakers…all made it to the final track.

In retrospect, Pdingpdoong was a very innocently made film; we don’t remember caring about anything much except having fun. Surprisingly it made it to quite a few festivals and it was a lot of watching audiences from different countries react to the film. It was heartening to see people laugh wherever it was screened. Humour really is a universal language. Presently all of us are in our fourth and final year and are working on our individual animated shorts.

There is also an informative making-of article about the film on CGTantra.com.


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