With increasing investments into the sector, the Indian animation industry has been on a roll in the past few years. The Animation and Gaming track at FICCI Frames 2008 gave the industry experts an opportunity to take stock of this growth and understand the workings of the developed markets through its three panel discussions held through the day.
In the session on ‘Developing Animation Content: lessons learnt from around the world’, Ram Mohan, fondly referred as the “father of Indian animation”, who is also the Chairman of Graphiti, questioned as to why mythological-based stories should not be used for animation. He pointed out that animation films did not do well because it was not made properly. “The animation films were flops because they were badly made by incoherent and incompetent producers with impossibly low budgets. They have caused incalculable harm to Indian animation, which is just taking off in the country,” he added.
During the same session, Jean Thoren, President and CEO, Animation Magazine, USA noted that ‘connecting with ones character and understanding it completely was very important before pitching it as a project.’ Agreeing with her and taking the discussion forward, Joanna Ferrone, Creator of Fido, USA stressed that content needs conviction and kids need content. Sharad Devarajan, Cofounder, CEO and Publisher, Virgin Comics LLC and Virgin Animation Pvt Ltd talked about their experiences in adapting Indian mythological content like Ramayana and others for the western audiences, which are presently waking up to content from the Indian subcontinent.
The second session on ‘New Age Technology & Emerging Production Pipelines in Animation’ had the speakers talk about one of the major problems facing the growth of this medium presently. Renowned international speakers like Jon Labrie, Founder, Blister Wireless, USA; Joan Vogelsang, President and CEO, Toon Boom, Canada; Sebastian Sylwan, Senior Film and Television Industry Manager, Autodesk Media & Entertainment, USA; and, Marge Dean, Animation Producer shared their experiences in their respective markets.
During the presentation, Sylwan pointed out that the top 18 of the all time top 20 films in the world used heavy VFX in its production. “There is a shift happening in the industry, where technical processes are becoming more creative led processes,” he added.
The final session of the day, presented a status report on one of the fastest ‘Gaming’. Moderated by Mohit Anand, Country Manager, Microsoft India, the session gave an overview on the present state of the Indian gaming segment, with emphasis on the different verticals including online, console and mobile. Noting the four roadblocks facing the segment, Anand continued, “The 4Ps that are affecting the growth of this medium are Price, Piracy, Parental perception and Paisa vasool (value proposition).”
Harminder Sahni, Managing Director, Technopak Advisors stressed that there has very little penetration through gaming in the country. Sharing some pointers from a research report, he stated, “The perception issue has to be tackled, where gamers perceive they are spending more time playing games than actually what they spend. Another noteworthy thing is that the substitute activity for gamers is watching television.”
Intending to give a wake-up call to the whole segment, Vishal Gondal, CEO of Indiagames.com gave an analogy of the story of an elephant and four blind men believing that each person holding to different parts of the animal’s body is the way an elephant is represented. Equating the gaming industry to an elephant, Gondal said, “We, across all segments – console, mobile, online, etc talk about the growth in our respective mediums. It’s now time to come together and look at the medium as a whole rather than in single verticals. At the end of the day, whoever can get the whole elephant will rule the market.”
Ajay Khanna, General Manager, Electronic Arts, India presented their prospects for the packaged games market in India, owing to the growth of gaming as a medium. In his presentation, Salil Bhargava, CEO, Jump Games, India noted that household penetration of gaming consoles is almost insignificant, but the mobile handsets is spiralling across India, presenting a large opportunity in this space.
Christopher Erhardt, Division President, Gameshashtra, India talked about their plans in creating an institute where they have identified courses to specifically concentrate on developing gaming content.
With such enthusiasm and optimism in the industry, penetration ought to be round the corner. Will the Indian animation and gaming industry develop as quickly as experts feel given the roadblocks it faces, is the question the industry wishes to have an answer for?