Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hand Wringing

It seems to be a standard theme in Indian media.

Why Indian animation is still a distant dream

... [T]he Indian film industry, touted as one of the largest in the world, still treats animation as an orphaned child. ...

"At $350 million, this is a good number to settle with for Indian animation industry. I don't see scope for fancy forecasting of the industry becoming $1 billion in 2014, when the turnover of most successful Indian animation companies with different business models is as low as Rs300 crore (over $55,000,000)," Rudra Masta, CEO RME, a company, known for making Indian animation television series "Little Pandavas", "Baba" and "Garuda", told IANS.

"The lack of good storytellers like John Lasseter, producers with market intelligence and taste like Walt Disney and writers with good hold over animation storytelling techniques are further making Indian animation a distant dream," he added.

The state of animation films is obvious from the fact that Nikhil Advani's "Delhi Safari" was the only known title from the genre that came out last year. ...

The Indian animation industry is as it ever was:

Trained personnel. Hardware and software in place. Ability to subcontract work from higher-level studios.

But being a job shop isn't the same as going out into the wider world as a full-bore animation studio that is creating original work that competes with Pixar, Disney DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios and (relatively new) Illumination Entertainment/MacGuff.

The lamentations highlighted above are nothing new. Two years ago, it was this:

... "[T]his could be really a chicken and egg situation. Probably we don't have the right animation movie so it didn't work yet. It is a very, very tough job to release an animation film in India because of the fact that the cost of animations is higher. To make a great animation film, you should be able to invest that amount of money and time. Secondly, you should be able to market it because you don't have stars to market it,' said [Siddharth Roy Kapur, chief executive officer of UTV motion pictures] ...

The conundrum is the same as ever: When studios are focused on doing sub-contract work that's cost-competitive, energetic employees wanting to do more than just grind out product leave for other companies where they can fulfill their soaring ambitions (and make more money.)

So the next John Lasseter, now working hard in some Mumbai studio, will likely move to Europe or the United States to get his shot at immortality. Because remaining at a job shop on the sub-continent will lower his chances. (Sooner or later she/he will figure this out.)

Poring through old posts, I see that Indian animation has been in the process of becoming for awhile now. Five years ago, it was on its way to be a $26 billion industry, growing 9% a year. ...


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