Saturday, May 06, 2006

More on Indian animation

And now the rest of my notes on the Indian Animation panel. The panelists in general thought the media emphasis on Indian technological prowess missed the boat. Having computers and knowing how to operate them doesn't lead to good animation or good entertainment. What they were impressed by was the artistic capabilities of many Indian animators, and conversely by the lack of meaningful training in production techniques to unleash that talent. They saw little emphasis on giving Indian animators the time and teaching to develop their full potential. During the Q & A period I asked the question on most domestic animators' minds: Do you foresee a time when Indian studios would also be doing the preproduction (viz dev, designs, writing, storyboards, etc.) and postproduction work, and not just production work? Mike Young started by pointing out the vast pool of talent and experience here in LA -- "This is where the best writers and story people are." -- and came back to the problem of little meaningful Indian animation/artistic training of the kind that will lead to expertise in these areas. Richard Rich agreed, and said that he'd recently started letting Indian board artists have first crack at boarding his films, then redoing the boards here and sending them back so the Indian artists can learn what they're doing wrong while using those boards for production. Karen Malach said she would like to send pre- and post- work to India, but that others at Disney want to keep it here. There was certainly a clear understanding by the Indian producers, and Indian animators in the audience, that the ability to do pre- and postproduction was necessary for the animation industry in their country to even move beyond being a service industry for foreign clients. Whether this will one day evolve into a situation where American-based productions are entirely done in India remains to be seen. I see significant cultural, talent, and logistical barriers to that happening, but we will see. Mike Young also emphasized to Mallika Chopra not to count out doing 2D productions at Virgin Animation. He cited the many poor choices that US studios made (citing Sinbad and a couple of other clinkers) for killing off traditionally animated features here, and not some inherent audience love of CG. I was happy to speak up in complete agreement with that sentiment. All in all, it was an interesting afternoon. I continue to be relatively skeptical about the likelihood of massive numbers of US jobs going over to India. We've had a long-standing pattern of TV and DTV production work being outsourced, and it seems to me that most of the Indian animation jobs have come at the expense of 2D animators in other countries. In features, audiences have shown no patience for films that have anything less than top-of-the-line production values, which you can only get with highly trained and talented in-house crews. On the other hand, I understand that a lot of digital live-action effects work is going to India. While I don't think making a bus explode is the same thing as animating a character, this will bear watching. I hope that as the Indian animation industry develops, that the Indian animation market will develop with it, and companies like Virgin Animation will be able have success serving that market. And, as always, we need to do everything we can to make sure we continue to be the best trained, most talented, most innovative community of animation professionals in the world.


Unknown said...

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