Monday, October 12, 2015

Meanwhile, On the Sub-Continent

Reuters reports:

... India's animators, long-time partners for the likes of Walt Disney Co, are reaping the rewards of surging demand for visual effects and gaining the confidence to venture out on their own.

India's animation industry generated revenue worth 44.9 billion rupees ($675.7 million) in 2014, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from a FICCI-KPMG report on India's media and entertainment industry.

The industry is expected to double in size to 95.5 billion rupees within five years, as Hollywood studios tap a large pool of low-cost, English-speaking animators who are familiar with Western culture.

So far, animators based in India have created crowd scenes and props for the Emmy award-winning TV series "Game of Thrones" as well as more prominent visual effects for films including Disney's 2014 Angelina Jolie movie "Maleficent" and Dreamworks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon", among other Hollywood hits.

"We are one of those best kept secrets. We do all this amazing work and no one knows about it," said Biren Ghose, who runs the Indian subsidiary of U.S. firm Technicolor, which includes the India-based animation units that worked on "Maleficent" ...

I honest to God don't know where Biren Ghose gets off fantasizing that Indian animators are some kind of well hidden secret. Most of the American animation community is well aware that India has a large animation business, and that the business, now valued in the hundreds of millions, has created product that is highly profitable ... and product that isn't.

Indian animators have played supporting roles on hit DreamWorks features and hit live-action features. They have also created animated features that laid eggs at the box office, such as the domestic flop Roadside Romeo and the international non-performer Planes: Fire and Rescue (which despite John Lasseter's involvement, failed to ignite much excitement at the global box office).

India will continue to do live-action visual effects and animated features because they have a robust industry with some talented players, and their price-point is low. But they haven't yet made a breakout, worldwide animated hit, let alone a second one. Until they do, they'll be regarded as suppliers rather than creators of animated features.

I'm not convinced that the structure of their business models for cartoon features will allow that to happen, but I could always be wrong. We'll just need to wait, I guess, and see.


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