Saturday, 8 December 2012

Indian Animation Industry

A huge animation industry and a biased opinion in India, Why?

If I ask you to name two good movies you have seen, you would quickly name a couple without thinking twice of the category the movies belongs to, be it a comedy, a drama or even a black & white film. Whether you liked them for their songs, the acting or just the overall feel of it, a film for us has always been a combination of all of the above, then why is it when we say Animation film, we quickly assume it as a children film and lose interest?

For a sculptor the tools of choice are a hammer and a chisel, similarly computer animation is just a tool chosen for film making. A computer by itself cannot create good films but the person using this tool will make the difference depending on his understanding of art and technology . The use of computer animation is primarily for making a film cost effective and safe for certain projects like an action film or sometimes to make movies using physically impossible themes like talking animals, Dinosaurs etc.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers International Limited has estimated the Indian Animation Industry to be worth 54 Billion Dollars by 2014, which is Rupees 25,920 Crores!!

Is INDIA experiencing a boom in Animation?

To answer this let's take a look at the Animation market which is broadly categorized as:
  • Feature Film (Visual Effects/Animation)
  • TV Series
  • Direct to DVD films and series
  • Gaming – for consoles like SONY PlayStation, mobile phones and internet etc.
  • Advertising and Music videos
  • Other fields like Architecture, Interior Designing and Medical.

The Indian Animation Feature Film market is not doing well even with the backing of big names like Saif Ali, Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Yash Chopra proving a point that just attaching big stars to lend their voices to characters does not lead to a good film. If its a good quality animation it will sell. We had few releases which failed to make money in theaters but made their money through after release sales like TV channel rights, CDs, DVDs and merchandising like T-Shirts, toys etc.

In the USA, Animation Film projects make more money than most of our best Bollywood hits. They create royalty which makes money for years to come. We have seen some success in international movies like Tinker bell, Alpha and Omega done in India but for big off shore studios.

In the TV series market most of the money made is from the never ending volumes of outsourced work coming from the biggest studios worldwide like Disney, Nickelodeon etc. Indian mythology series and a few odd projects are the few contents that India have managed to develop. Chota Bheem, though with medium quality animation has seen real good success and is a great Intellectual property from the business point of view.

The advertising and music video market has a lot of creative projects being done and some do really match international standards.

The gaming industry is expected to grow by about 36 per cent in the next four years but it is still not hitting volumes as in the USA and Europe markets.

Indian Animation boom is mainly from outsourced work.

Is India is capable of developing animation movies that can make 100 Crores?

We are not yet ready. A lot of this has to do with the Art Education System in India.
We have still not been able to embrace this field as a mainstream subject and consider this only for average ranking students. The outlook on animation is of an easy alternative to the other mainstream subjects. On the contrary this field is just as demanding as other fields, requiring a lot of hard work and a proper education system to make it successful. The pay scales are equivalent to MBA or Engineering graduates and even students from IIT work in this field on the technical and programing side.

Animation is not just cartoons, it is a tool developed by use of advanced computer technology for artists. Animation is more about the Art than it is about the softwares that change with time but the art fundamentals remain same. A strong art foundation is recommended for animation. Most people don't think this is necessary and only learning the software is enough with the result that we are not able to create the big money movies that match international standards. Take a look at Japan, they compete with the American animation industry and still maintain their cultural influences in their animations but deliver international quality movies which even win Oscars.

What kind of jobs are offered ?

The jobs in this field are broadly categorized in 3 segments : Art, Technology and Production Management .

Artists are of 2 types, one who is a traditional artist like a painter or sculptor and the other a technical artist (an artist interested more in programming). Technology has 2 departments, Pipeline and IT. A pipeline programmer writes programs for easy work flow between all Animation departments so no data is lost, develop tools that help artist unfamiliar with technology for speedy production process. 
The IT department is responsible for safe keeping of data and machine maintenance and updates. The production management team overlooks production planning and delivery. There is a scope for all types of students in animation, engineers, artists or even MBAs. To give an example, Rhythm and Hues studios in Los Angeles California employed a PhD in physics who develops tools for realistic simulation of ocean, fire etc. which is based on actual physics and little to do with art. Scientists are hired and provided with facilities to develop newer technology to make Visual effects more real for animated films.

Even the “The Academy Awards – Oscars” has a category for Animated films and another one for technology development.

What is the current scenario in India?

India is evolving in this Big money making industry. Students having art background or an understanding of both Technology and Art, irrespective of their educational background make perfect candidates for this field.

Few of the 'A list' Oscar winning studios like Dreamworks, Rhythm and Hues, Sony Image works from USA and Technicolor, Moving Picture Company from UK have setup in India. Also International colleges like France based Supinfocom have set up Animation Institution in India.

India is an emerging market in this field and great opportunities lie ahead. Students now have a chance for international recognition without leaving India, I believe now is the right time to enter this field which promises to be a 1000 crore plus market in near future.

Ruturaj Arolkar
BFA – Academy of Art University,
San Francisco, California, USA
Animation and Art School Goa


  1. Fantastic article! :) Ruturaj, you would be an idol for all the students in India who are looking at animation as a career.

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