It isn’t only Baahubali that has brought Indian animation into focus. They have been attracting foreign investment in large sums and engaging some of the best animators of India.
A recent joint report prepared by KPMG and FICCI suggests that the animation and VFX industry in India has grown by 16.4% in 2017 since the last year. It also suggests that the animation business has become a 59.5 billion industry today and suggests that 85% of this growth is because of outsourced projects from the television and film sectors.
Undeniably, over the last decade itself, the Indian animation industry has experienced a rapid growth. This could be attributed to the hundreds of new studios that have sprouted across the country and young talent has thus flocked them. Moreover, mushrooming numbers of training institutes are offering the ‘animator’ dream to one and all. This has resulted in the country’s exports soaring that have brought many foreign producers to quickly establish their presence in India, the world’s second most populated nation.
No wonder, animation industry is touted as the ‘next big thing’ for economic growth following the country’s already successful software and business process outsourcing. Speaking to the media, Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group at AMD, says, “Opening up a VFX studio In India was one of the first steps to bring great graphical content in Indian movies at an affordable rate. The aim was to deliver high quality graphics in limited budget.”
It is no wonder that the Indian animation industry has been growing for some time now. With Hollywood studios tapping into a large Indian pool of ‘low-cost, English-speaking animators who are familiar with the western culture (thanks to Facebook and You Tube),’ the animation industry has come a long way. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that in fact, Indian animators are the ones who have created the crowd scenes and props for the TV series Game of Thrones and other Hollywood hits.
In an interview to Reuters, Biren Ghose who runs the Indian subsidiary of U.S. firm, Technicolor, (they worked on Angelina Jolie’s film Maleficent) adds,”We Indians are one of those best kept secrets. We do all this amazing work and no one knows about it.” It is high time we came out in the open. And the KPMG report further reiterates this Animation Industry advantage of India. It suggests that ‘investment and collaboration opportunities between animation studios and broadcasters in India have picked up, with the latter paying as much as ₹1.5 to 4 million per 30-minutes of animation content.’
There are some evident hiccups in the Indian system which has not given this industry its due weightage. For one, the industry in India continues to be perceived as ‘child’s play’ unlike the US, ‘where adults constitute a major audience for animated content’. Also, unfortunately, the Indian market has not appreciated the domestic animated film market. This is contrary to the robust performance of Hollywood content such as the Jungle Book, pointing towards a need for investing in local animated franchises.
Another aspect plaguing the growth in the Indian Animation Industry is constant money haggling that international studios indulge in when it comes to hiring VFX vendors from India. To add to this injury is lack of subsidies from both central and the state governments, which could lead to a number of studios considering other countries.
However, the good news is that governments of various states like Maharashtra (allocation of land for setting up National Centre of Excellence for Animation, VFX, Gaming and Comics), Karnataka (policy design to include digital art education in curricula of certain fine arts schools) and Telangana (planning to set up an incubation centre in Hyderabad) are making such move to extend support to the industry. They are also coming up with suitable policies as well. All this will go a long way in enabling the Indian animation and VFX industry to effectively compete with established markets in US, Canada and further, emerging ones in South Korea, France, China and Malaysia.