The time for Indian animation has come
Haven’t you been captivated, sitting in a dark theater in the good old days, munching on popcorn and watching sparkling animated films that Hollywood kept producing? Whether it was the adventures of the mouse who imagined himself as the leader Ratatouille or the escapades of a rabbit and a fox in Zootopia, or Tintin’s derring-do in The Adventures of Tintin, high-quality animation captivated audiences all over the world.
Now Indian animators have a chance in the booming market for animated films. While film making has been hit during the pandemic, animated media has generated interest on various OTT platforms. For example, a major Indian animated series that attracted attention was The legend of Hanuman, streaming on Disney + Hotstar.
In the first week (of February 2021), Hanuman garnered 6.6 million views, according to Animationxpress, a web portal focused on the Indian animation, visual effects, games and comics industry. . In weeks two and three, the seven-language series garnered 4 million and 2.9 million views, respectively.
Sharad Devarajan, co-founder, Graphic India and co-creator of The legend of Hanuman, says, âDuring the pandemic, there has been a huge demand for new content of all kinds, whether it’s live-action, documentary, or animation. Fortunately, animation can be produced through remote systems even during lockdowns, making it an attractive option for platforms, as part of their content strategy.
The sector has even caught the government’s attention. Speaking at the second edition of CII SummitFX 2021 held in August, Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal said that the “AVGC (animation, visual effects, games and comics) sector, growing by 9%, has enormous potential and is expected to reach $ 43.93 billion by 2024 â.
“Movies like Star Wars, Matrix and Avatar must serve as inspiration for the next generation, âhe said, adding that pre-production to post-production in the AVGC sector can bring competitiveness and efficiency. “Production costs in India are one-third to one-quarter of those in Western countries and 25 percent of those of their Southeast Asian counterparts,” the minister noted.
Indeed, cost arbitrage is what attracts many foreign studios to work with Indian companies.
However, there is still a long way to go for the Indian animation industry to meet global standards.
Reach for the heavens
Charuvi Agrawal, co-creator of The legend of Hanuman, who heads Charuvi Design Labs, says: âAnimation production globally is experiencing a renaissance. The increased demand for faster turnaround times and quality content has driven evolution. It created more jobs for animation centric musicians, 3D artists, sound directors, voice artists, comic book artists. Milind D Shinde, founder of 88 Pictures, whose company has worked on many critically acclaimed animated series including Netflix Troll hunters, emphasizes that since animation has an unlimited lifespan and is aimed at all ages, viewers are turning to a variety of content thanks to the internet and smartphones.
88 Pictures recently did the “theatrical and digital marketing work” for the live action and animated film. Tom and Jerry released this year.
When the first lockdown began, production houses were forced to work from home. Shinde explains that “the biggest challenge was the availability of high speed internet, because the animation work requires immense data”.
âSince everyone is at home, a bandwidth problem arose. Productivity has also fallen. It’s difficult for the work-life balance. The animation industry also needs teamwork and creative collaboration, âhe said.
To emphasize this point, Agrawal explains how his team worked during the period.
âAll the artists have been on board Slack, with regular team meetings hosted on Zoom or Google Meets. The artist accessed his machines in the studio from home. The visual design and production flow of assets has been the least affected during this period. The animation supervisor would record the actions as needed (for the editing sequence) and share them with the online team as a point of reference.
Agrawal adds: âThe working hours got longer because the feedback loops were constant and the follow-up at every step was tedious. Still, the team was pretty determined to deliver.
Content preferences among audiences changed after the pandemic, forcing production houses to revisit their offerings.
Graphic India’s Devarajan notes that “everyone in game studios, toy companies and big tech companies” wanted to make movies while “traditional TV and movie studios wanted to make digital games.”
âThere is increased media convergence as various movie studios, game companies, social media and tech companies, and television networks all begin to compete and consolidate to create cross-platform IP franchises, designed to engage customers. consumers around the world on many devices simultaneously, “he says.” This increased cross-platform approach allows media companies to mitigate risk through multiple revenue streams, while providing better engagement with their favorite stories. “
Agrawal of Charuvi Design says there is a demand for infotainment content as well. His team recently bagged a handful of interesting projects.
âIn addition to the television series, we are responsible for creating two animated films for museums based in Shrawasti and Kapilavastu. They try to summarize the life of Buddha spent in both places, âAgrawal says. âThe Punjab Tourism Ministry has asked us to visualize the great heroic story of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh for the Chamkaur Museum. We are also creating a story for the Prime Minister of India Museum at Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi.
To be a world leader
With the slow opening of cinemas and the increase in vaccination campaigns, players in the entertainment industry are aiming to make up for lost time.
Agrawal explains that storytelling and character development need to improve. “We need better sound artists who push back the barriers, especially for animation and the quality of the content needs to be improved, including adopting better production platforms,” ââshe said. âAll of this needs to be complemented by training the resource pool and investing in better technology. “
Shinde from 88 Pictures thinks so too. âI certainly think the animation industry is a technology company. If we offer high-quality production technology, then we can achieve global standards. Everyone has to find a way to do it, âhe says. “Plus, the world sees India as a huge market because we are hungry for entertainment.” As Shinde adds, if animation was part of mainstream education in schools, the time for the sector would have come.