You are squelching through a muddy path in Kerala countryside in a cool drizzle. Listen to birds swoop past, the steady flap of their wings mingling with the sound of frogs and distant cows. A swollen stream burbles past busily, as rain steadily drips off lush vegetation.
‘A Rainy Day in Kerala’, a 3D animation video from his ‘The Walk’ series, is so vivid that it transports you right into the centre of a lush Kerala monsoon. Created by Dubai-based 3D artist Ajai Poovadan Kuruvankandy, it’s evidently balm for the locked-down Malayali soul, as it is being shared by Malayalis across the world. Even Kerala Tourism has posted it on its social media handles on Facebook and Instagram.
When he created this, Ajai intended it to be a virtual walk in the open for people, especially Malayalis, stuck at home, or away from home, due to the pandemic.
“I anticipated some of the response as people would relate emotionally. But not this much, or this kind; it is nostalgia and we all miss our homes and the rain,” he says over phone from Dubai. The response to this ‘walk’ has been special. It was intended as ‘refreshment’ from the tedium of working from home for those, who like him, are missing the outdoors. And the beginning of the Kerala monsoon, which is a special time in the State.
The 33 year-old, who has been working there since 2015, is a 3D artist with Archcorp Architectural Engineering, where he creates 3D visualisation of buildings. His work is different from his hobby, where he plays around with him imagination. He used the same software he uses for work – Lumion 3D Rendering Software, used for architectural visualisation for this animation video. Lumion has showcased his works on its website seeing how differently he was using the software.
“My interests, and dabbling, in videography and photography came in handy making this video. I rendered each aspect from memories – of rainy days from my childhood in Thalassery. The sound is also important I did not want to miss the micro sounds it was reached after layers of mixing. I am very observant and have a keen eye which perhaps helped create the video. The rendering time was 145 hours and working time 4 days, but the time was well spent,” he says. He has uploaded tutorials on his YouTube channel for those who want to try making videos like these.
When Ajai uploaded the video on his YouTube channel (Ajai Poovadan) on May 14, at 10 pm, and went to bed, he was not prepared for the outpouring he encountered next morning. He was flooded with calls and messages, many from people working in the film industry – music directors and directors. “With the pandemic, shooting outdoors looks like a remote possibility. Therefore they are looking for other alternatives and 3D animation is a very good option,” he says. Kerala Tourism has shown interest in his future work of this nature, as well as a couple of ad filmmakers.
A gifted artist
“I have never formally studied art, but I used to win prizes at competitions. My father used to draw he is one of those unsung artists, who didn’t pursue art. But he has always encouraged me,” he says.
One of his artworks, a 3D rendering ‘Vishnumoorthi Theyyam’ (2009) even inspired a 68×80 feet work at the Karipur International Airport by artists of the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, led by mural artist Saju Thuruthil. Ajai also does digital paintings.
Ajai began learning animation and media technology while still in college in Thalassery pursuing a degree in commerce and even landed a job before he completed his animation course. It was there that he got interested in 3D sculpting because he liked sculpting and was a prize winner at the school youth festival. There he learnt about and familiarised himself with 3D modelling software. He worked in Chennai and Delhi before he arrived in Dubai.
His work keeps him in Dubai, but he dreams of life back home in Kerala with his parents, wife and son, “Leading the simple life of an artist, creating art and enjoying the rain!”
(The animation video can be viewed on Ajai’s Instagram handle ajai_poovadan or his YouTube channel)