Video Podcast with Round Brush Studio – Making of “Pistis Poiesis”

Video Podcast with Round Brush Studio – Making of “Pistis Poiesis”

Our first Video Podcast with the team of Round Brush Studio. 

For our readers, we have provided a condensed written format of the interview. However, we highly recommend checking out the podcast for a more detailed discussion on Round Brush Studios’ film “Pistis Poiesis” and their insights into the world of animation.


Introducing Nitin and Calen, the dynamic duo behind Round Brush Studio, an independent animation studio situated in Thane. Join us as they take us on a captivating journey through their foray into the realm of animation, offering a glimpse into their artistic process and providing exclusive insights into their upcoming short film, “Pistis Poiesis“.

Could you please provide an overview of your professional background and share the story of how you and your partner met in Canada? Additionally, what factors influenced your decision to return to India and establish Round Brush Studios?


Nitin Venkatesan is an artist with an eye to find the beauty in the imperfections seen around him and possesses a passion for storytelling through his art. He has a background in animation and visual arts from Manipal University and Sheridan College, respectively. Nitin has worked as a concept artist, digital artist, and traditional painter at various places ranging from art galleries to film studios, constantly striving to improve his skills and enhance his command over his artistic toolkit.


Calen Lewis is a concept artist and illustrator who possesses a keen eye for details and a passion for observing the world. He has a game design background from Seneca College, specializing in concept design and game theory. Calen has also worked in various other fields such as fashion design, architecture, and art installations, continuously refining his skills as a designer.


They met in 2017 in Toronto, where they both worked as stereoscopic artists for Legend 3D. They became friends due to their shared interests in art and philosophy and maintained contact over the years. They relocated to Mumbai for different reasons, but they discovered it to be a promising place for their careers due to the increasing number of studios in India. In 2018, Nitin had to return to India because of his father’s deteriorating health and took on a job as a concept artist at Yash Raj Film until 2020. Towards the end of 2019, Calen left Canada due to visa-related issues and decided to stay in Mumbai, working with multiple game studios as a concept artist and game designer, influenced by the pandemic. The combination of the pandemic and the desire to create something new inspired them to establish Round Brush Studio, primarily to share their stories with the world through animated short films and games. They didn’t wait for the perfect moment; they simply followed their impulses.

Could you please provide some insights into the nature of your studio and elaborate on the talented artists who collaborate with you?


Their Studio is a design firm that offers services in concept art, storyboarding, and design-focused problem-solving using art, with a primary emphasis on visual storytelling. Currently, the team consists of five artists who are primarily dedicated to their animated short film, ‘Pistis Poiesis’. The team comprises three artists, two animators, and an illustrator. In the past, they hired three 3D artists to assist in creating the film’s sets and environments, as well as three voice actors to provide character voices. Each team member possesses unique strengths and weaknesses, and the studio strives to leverage their strengths effectively. Nitin serves as the director and producer of the film, while Calen oversees the art direction and supervises post-production. Additionally, Nitin and Calen actively contribute to the production process, assuming roles such as animators, clean-up animators, and background (BG) artists when not supervising the work of other artists. Throughout the production, freelance artists have also joined the team, but the studio expresses gratitude for the artists and animators who have remained dedicated to the project in the long term.


Could you shed some light on the unique pipeline you have meticulously crafted for Round Brush Studio? Additionally, it would be great to learn about the array of services your studio offers to clients and partners.


Their pipeline is specifically designed to address production challenges associated with their art direction, which involves a painted look where each brushstroke is animated frame by frame. The animators/artists must paint each frame individually, resulting in potential inconsistencies in perspective, lighting, and color due to various technical factors. To mitigate these issues, they made the decision to create the backgrounds in 3D and then have their BG artist apply a layer of paint, achieving the desired painted look while avoiding the aforementioned inconsistencies. They utilized Blender to create the 3D backgrounds and employed Krita for the painting process. It’s important to note that this approach is only applicable to one part of the film. The second portion of the film features a completely different art direction that is comparatively easier to execute, as minimal paint work is required. Although these workflows come with their own set of challenges, the team has learned to optimize them and maintain the production’s momentum. While some may perceive the inclusion of two distinct art directions in a single film as a concern, considering the context of their story, it aligns with their vision and narrative intentions.

With over 6 years of industry experience, you possess the skills and expertise to excel as lead or senior concept artists. However, what instilled in you the confidence to venture into entrepreneurship and establish your own studio?


Both Nitin and Calen have felt the temptation to pursue traditional 9-to-5 jobs as concept artists. However, Nitin became disenchanted with the industry’s current creations and the stories being told. They realized that as artists, they were consistently offering their artistic skills as services to corporate entertainment companies in order to bring their visions to life for a paycheck. In order to push their artistic growth and challenge the status quo, they made the risky decision to start their own firm and produce a short film.

They observed that the majority of projects in India were primarily geared towards a younger audience. In contrast, their film ‘Pistis Poiesis’ was created with an adult audience and those who appreciate artistic films in mind. By producing this film and circulating it through film festivals, they aimed to establish a foundation for pitching other stories to investors and producers, with a focus on creating animated content that appeals to adults seeking artistically-driven animations.

Their ultimate goal was to change the prevailing perception and create something unique and mature in the long term. They wanted to surprise people and defy expectations, particularly in relation to the types of animations being produced in India. Even if their endeavor were to fail, they believed that the experience would provide invaluable lessons. They were prepared to take the risk, fully aware that falling forward and knowing they had attempted to create something truly distinctive would be worthwhile.

We had the pleasure of watching the captivating trailer for your film, “Pistis Poiesis,” and we were truly impressed. We are curious to know who conceived the idea for the film and how it all began. Additionally, it would be fantastic if you could provide a brief overview of the film’s storyline, being mindful of avoiding any spoilers, of course!


Thank you for your appreciation of the first trailer for the film. Nitin, the writer and creator of Pistis Poiesis, initially conceived the idea for the film in 2012 but decided to adapt it into a short story format in 2021. Describing the entire process of its development is challenging because the concept itself was quite unique, incorporating complex ideas centered around consciousness and abstract concepts such as creativity, love, and imagination. It involved multiple iterations and adjustments until it could be effectively communicated to a general audience.


During the initial phase, one of the most challenging aspects was condensing the script from its original length of 30 minutes to a more concise 15-minute version.


The film’s plot revolves around a convict who has no desire to engage with the living and willingly participates in a secret government experiment. Through this experiment, he confronts the abstract concept of creativity, which becomes a significant element in the story.


Could you please elaborate on the inspiration that guided your choice of art style for “Pistis Poiesis” and the deliberate decision to employ a lower frame rate? Additionally, we’re intrigued to know why you opted for a Greek word as the title of your film.


Determining the inspiration behind the art style of the film is a complex question. The creative team drew inspiration from various sources, including artistically-driven films from different cultures such as Western and Japanese animations, Indian animations by Ram Mohan, Soviet Russian animation, and historical painters. However, a significant influence on the artistic direction came from the film “Loving Vincent,” which utilized oil paints in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. This, combined with the feedback received from Nitin’s previous clients, who requested adjustments to brushwork details in his works, led them to adopt the art style showcased in the first trailer.


Due to budget limitations and the necessity of painting frame by frame, the team opted for a lower frame rate, specifically on 2’s. However, it’s important to note that the quality of animation is not solely determined by frame rate; the most crucial aspect is how the characters move and flow. Exceptional animations can be achieved even with 2’s or sometimes 3’s.


The choice of using a Greek word, “Pistis Poiesis,” was driven by Nitin’s personal preference for how it sounded and its alignment with the central theme of the film. “Pistis” means good faith or in faith, while “poiesis” means bringing something to life or into existence. Although the team explored other languages, they ultimately decided to stick with this phrase as it resonated strongly and sounded more appealing to them.

Why do you think there is a lack of emphasis on creating original IPs in India’s animation industry, which is primarily focused on outsourcing work? How can we progress towards developing more indigenous IPs in India?


Answering this question is quite challenging due to the various factors involved, such as the economic aspects of the animation sector in India and the general perception of animation as an art form. From my observations, India has predominantly functioned as a service provider in this field, catering to the demands of Western markets by outsourcing 3D assets, VFX work, animation, game art, and more. Even international studios have established their bases in India. Additionally, animated films are not widely consumed by the majority of the Indian population, as they are still primarily considered entertainment for children.


Nitin and his friends grew up watching animated shows like Samurai Jack, Batman, Batman Beyond, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Gundam, Dragon Ball, and many others. Now that the audience who grew up with these shows has become adults, creating content with a mature perspective through animated films and shows would be a great opportunity. However, it is important to acknowledge that this target audience forms a relatively small portion of the overall Indian population.


When it comes to animation institutions and colleges in India, the focus is largely on training students for employment in outsourcing companies. While there is nothing wrong with that, there is a need for these educational institutes to place more emphasis on teaching storytelling, idea generation, and execution, rather than solely focusing on software skills. Furthermore, creating new intellectual properties (IPs) requires financial investment, even for pitches or pilots, and investors are primarily concerned with potential profitability. At Round Brush Studio, Nitin is using his own funds to produce ‘Pistis Poiesis’. Is it a risk? Yes. Will he fully recoup the investment? It is uncertain. However, the primary motivation is to create something new and tell a compelling story through animation, rather than conforming to what already exists.


To make progress in creating more IPs in India, it is crucial to start by writing and telling our own stories. These can be short animated clips lasting a minute or two. Additionally, the rise of open-source software begs the question: Why aren’t more artists utilizing these tools to tell their stories? It is important to note that there are animated films that perform well and generate profits. However, to witness a surge in animated films, it is necessary to start small, dedicating a few hours each day to creating content and showcasing that the Indian film industry is not solely about Bollywood or Tollywood live-action films.

What upcoming projects can we anticipate from Round Brush Studios in the near future?


Currently, Round Brush Studio is a small but growing studio with a primary focus on completing our short film by the end of this year. Moving forward, we aspire to leverage this project as a stepping stone to attract producers and investors who share our vision and enable us to create even more ambitious and impactful projects. However, if securing external support proves challenging, we remain committed to enhancing our services for clients and delivering exceptional work.

Additionally, we are excited to announce that we have video game projects in the pipeline. With Calen’s background in gaming, we are eager to explore this medium and embark on new gaming ventures in the near future.

You can connect with Round Brush Studio at the following links:



Calen – Linkedin:

Nitin – Linkedin:

About the author

  • Mohammad Khalikh

    Based in India. Khalikh is a Previs and Cinematic Designer with over 6 years of experience in the Indian Film Industry. His passion for films and animation led him to the city of dreams, Mumbai, and he found the world of filmmaking. He loves to share knowledge and he believes what J.M. Cornwell has rightly said "“Knowledge is wasted when it isn't shared.”

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