The Indian animation industry today stands at Rs 12 billion, and is projected to grow to Rs 42 billion by 2009. Animation in India is currently riding on two key factors - a large base of highly skilled labour, and low cost of production. While the industry is gaining prominence steadily, several important factors such as the government's role in supporting the animation industry, producing original content locally, and the importance of training, will steer the industry to greater heights. .
'Vision India - Animation Leaders Speak' raised the all important question – Can India outperform or come on par with advanced animation content creating countries? Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and Executive Producer, Anirights Infomedia Pvt Ltd, was the moderator for the session, while the panelists comprised Vincent Edwards, Director, 'Spiderman'; Tapaas Chakravorti, Managing Director, DQ Entertainment; Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman, UTV; Anthony Boucher, Cinnamon Entertainment, UK; and A K Madhavan, CEO, Crest Animation Studio. .
Being in its nascent stage, the animation industry in India has not been very stable. However, it is stepping into the next era of development. Chakravorti said that though countries like South Korea and China were far ahead of India in this space, India had the potential to be recognised as an animation hub, if certain factors like education facilities, funds, infrastructure and constant development of original content were stressed upon. It was also important to develop original content that appealed to audiences in America, UK, and Europe, he said. .
According to Chakravorti, international exposure limited to the business of non-creative executives and lack of financial backing from the government were the major deterrents to India being recognised as an animation hub. .
Boucher said that Cinnamon was a company that focused on investing in entertainment, and that it was committed to India. However, India was a long way from being an animation hub despite having encouraging factors like an English speaking talent pool, and low production costs, he added. "India can be recognised as a key player in animation if you look at the industry as a serious business and invest heavily in developing this space," he further said. .
According to Edwards, movies were all about magic; and to create global brands, he reasoned, content should have universal appeal. The Indian outsourcing industry, according to Edwards, should be considered an advantage only to train people in the basics of animation, but not as the final word in gauging the industry's growth. The best way to ensure wholesome training was to invite global animation experts to train people in Indian production houses that provide animated content, he explained. .
UTV's Screwvala opined, "Competitive advantage is not possible if India continues to be a low-cost animation production country." He said that the early players in Indian animation did not stress on training and investment, and this had stunted the industry's growth. However, he reasoned, that India had an advantage over global players in that there was not much by way of government regulations, and this kept the industry free of several complexities. .
Madhavan said, "I am bullish about animation in India." According to him, India's creative workforce needed to recognise the art of story telling, as this would ensure being noticed as a quality animation content producer. .
'Master Class in Making of Animated Movie' had David Sproxton, CEO, Aardman Animations, UK, and creator of 'Chicken Run' reconstructing 'Wallace & Gromit' - from pre-production and production to post production. The animation series based on the simple but adventurous premise of highly inventive Wallace and his faithful dog, Gromit, has won several awards. Sproxton said, "To create a successful movie, it needs to have a story with a heart and be driven by passion." .
Wallace & Gromit's success formula is the relationship between the two lead characters that moves from Gromit barely tolerating Wallace to getting Wallace out of trouble every time he gets into his highly inventive mode, and then back to Gromit tolerating Wallace. Several characters were added over the years to make the movies engaging and timeless. The recent movie 'Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit' has Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes lend their voices to the characters Lady Tottington and Lord Victor Quatermaine, respectively. .
India definitely has some advantages and potential to develop the animation industry. Training, investing heavily in the industry, and providing original and compelling content, will be critical to its growth. The encouraging news is that while the primary work coming to India is through animation outsourcing, the industry is moving up to the next level, with some co-production assignments also trickling in – slowly, but surely.