“India will be among the top content creators”

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Established in the year 1999, Toonz Animation India Pvt. Ltd is the state-of-the-art animation production facility of Toonz group. The 18,000 sq feet facility is nestled in Technopark, India’s largest IT Park located in the South Indian state of Kerala, one of the must see destinations of a lifetime as described by National Geographic Traveller. From the creation of India’s first 2D animated TV series & 2D feature film, to India’s first 3D stereoscopic theatrical, the studio boasts of an envious pedigree that saw many successful coproduction partnerships with the likes of Walt Disney, Turner, Nickelodeon, Sony, Universal, BBC, Paramount, Marvel and Hallmark.

Today, the studio has emerged as the leader in the Indian animation industry with a host of successful productions for the domestic market and one of the most admired studios in South East Asia. The studio has been heralded by Animation Magazine as ‘one of the top ten studios to watch’ and also been chosen as one among India’s top ten ‘cool’ companies to work for.

Toonz Animation is now our placement and intern partner.  Mr. Jaya Kumar, CEO shared his thoughts on the animation industry.  Read on to find out what he has to say about the right recipe for a successful profession in the world of animation, what wins when it comes to content or technology and much more.

What do you think is the proper recipe for being a successful professional in the animation industry?
Lots of passion, lots of practice, constant learning, always updated and last but not least, an entrepreneurial attitude.

Regardless of an ocean of creative minds working in the Indian Animation Industry, why do you think our industry is not booming (Intellectual Property creation as compared to Outsourcing) in the international market and what can be done to bring us to spotlight?
This is not entirely true. First of all we need to understand that Indian Animation Industry is in a transitionary stage from a destination for outsourcing because of cheap labour to a participatory creative activity since people abroad have started believing in the creative power of India. While India is not fully recognized as a resource for successful IPs originating from India, the fact is that we have already started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. India is emerging to be the largest young population with lot of appetite for animated entertainment content in various platforms. Some of the new concepts getting developed are able to travel across the world. India is at the threshold of crossing over to quality content from quantity. Quantity at a lower cost, even at the cost of quality was a need during the last decade. It was more on the Indian content that could connect with the Indian kids. There are ample examples of successes for that. Now it is slowly turning to quantity AND quality. We will be seeing a flood of quality Indian content from India for India in the immediate future essentially due to better money and the better appetite for Indian kids for quality.

Now coming to bringing India to the spotlight in the international market, we believe, the world has changed and so did we. Now we are looked at as a destination not only for getting the work done at a better cost but India is also looked at as a very strong partner both creatively as well as production-wise.

As far as Toonz is concerned our playground has already become more global. Another important matter in today’s market is the overall demand for content for digital platforms. And that is not local. It is international. The boundaries have started to blur big time. It is the innovation, technology and the creative power that is going to rule the immediate future. Henceforth there will not be the concept of specific region or country when it comes to Digital Platform. The content will still rule even in the regionalism. We need to come up with localised content and spread across the world. And there is no escape from this if one wants to remain in this industry.

Where do we stand in the Animation Industry in CGI/Visual Effects and where do we find ourselves ten years from now?
Technically and creatively, we are quite there in comparison to international arena. Feature films like Kung Fu Panda 3, are examples for this. A look at the credit list will prove that. So it is not the question of talent or skill. It is the question of opportunity and that is fast opening up in India. As far as VFX is concerned, there have been only a handful of films that demanded heavy VFX. And the use of VFX to tell the story or to enhance the visuals has already arrived and it is here to stay.

Talking about ten years from now, it is too difficult to predict as the technology and the appetite are fast changing by months. One clear thing that is emerging is that people have started believing in VFX for feature films. When it comes to animated features, it is a little different. Indian population is not yet tuned to see a story told with animate characters. Chances of success have been less due to the expense vs. the potential revenue. But by nature, Indians are way too smart to find ways to reduce the production cost and still tell a story effectively. This is proved multiple times with live-action feature films. Even if we have to really predict, in ten years from now, the technology and the viewing experience is going to change drastically and as it has proved in the last few years, India has caught up with the international technology pretty swiftly and we will be among the top content creators and consumers in the entertainment field, for sure.

Content versus Technology, what should be given relevance and why? Please share your views.
Content is the King and will be the King always. While technology can keep changing, if the focus on content is not strong enough, there is a huge waste of time and money by over-using technology. Yes, technology can hugely change the viewing experience. But content is always going to be a challenge to quench the appetite of the people in all ages.

What advice you would like to offer to aspiring creative people.
Hold on to your passion and find novel ways of telling stories to keep the world entertained. Never allow your passion to die due to the environment. Exploit the best technologies available at that time to make the viewing experience special. Never compromise the content for technology. Technology will follow your passion.

 

Indian animation, a huge force for the future

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Gaming and animation are two areas now that are seeing a high demand for talent. Not only are they very exciting and newer fields to work in but are also one of those few fields which are witnessing tremendous growth very quickly, thereby creating great career opportunities for trained and talented people.

What was more so relegated to the sidelines until a decade ago is now fast becoming the mainstream in film entertainment, television and of course the internet. That trend is changing now and how! Animation is fast becoming the hottest career to pursue. The young artists who once faced the criticism for being different and choosing a path not trodden by many, are now being seen as the torch bearers for taking the industry to a global level of recognition and hopefully awards.

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A few sketches from a story, done by one of our students.

The country’s animation brigade has made great strides in Hollywood (Life of Pi and Prometheus) and the bigwigs of the industry believe that this signals their arrival on the global stage in a small but significant way. Though they have been working for many Hollywood films for years, working on majority of the 3D conversion work, it is not until now that they have received their due.

With the growing demand for well-trained people, many animation studios and companies have come up in cities across the country, with Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum becoming the hubs. Many of them are equipped with the latest technology to tackle the demands of services, be it 2D animation, 3D animation, storyboards, product demos, illustrations, logos, banners, portraits, caricatures or customized ones. Famous for their work in post-production and 3D content development, this field has high-paying jobs for many digital artists and other technical specialists.

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3D rendering of a robot, as imagined and done by one of our students.

Reasons why global entertainment firms are flocking to India are a many. It is because of the low costs (cost of animation production in India is one-fourth the cost of what it costs in the West). Not just that, India been the second largest entertainment industry in the world, our studios provide a large pool of high-quality software engineers who are familiar with and on par with the latest trends and technologies. Added advantages are that the English speaking workforce overcomes the language barrier.

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A few of the characters, in one of our students’ story.

To put things in perspective, here are some facts: India’s animation entertainment sector has experienced a major boom in the recent past, employing over 80,000 people, and the current size is estimated at US$ 247 million and expected to grow at 15-20% per annum. According to the latest report by NASSCOM the animation industry in India will grow at 22 percent every year. How is that to beat?!

Character Lineup

Imagination coming to life, in this student’s character lineup.

Many animation studios and production houses in the country are packed with work be it outsourced from abroad or in-house projects for the market at home. Which is why, the animation industry faces a talent crunch, and trained and talented people are the need of the hour.

The ice seems to have broken and the reach and popularity of animated content has crossed all barriers and is something that the larger audience is familiar with. This could be the best time to enter this industry!

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