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Info-Tech - Outsourcing


Animation, next BPO break

M. Ramesh

Chennai , Aug 4

GOING by the contracts that Indian companies have been getting in recent months, India looks set to grab the next opportunity in outsourcing, to wit, 3D animation.

Pentamedia Graphics, Toonz Animation, Paprikaas Animation, Crest Communications— all these companies have told Business Line that they have received jobs from abroad for producing 3D animation feature films.

The immense success of animation movies like Shrek and Finding Nemo, combined with the low cost production capabilities of Indian companies, appears to have touched off a new outsourcing trend.

"India is increasingly becoming an attractive destination for outsourced animation content, especially 3D animation content," says Mr Srini Raghavan, Co-founder and President of the Bangalore-based Paprikaas Animation Studios. "We are seeing a spurt in growth and increasing interest to outsource production to India, especially 3D work by some US studios," he said.

The market is big, and there are varying estimates about its size. Mr A.K. Madhavan, CEO of Crest Communications Ltd, provides this perspective: "The entertainment industry as a whole is expected to exceed $3 trillion by 2005. Of this, the animation industry is estimated at around $70 billion. This includes gaming, merchandising, theme parks, toys, telefilms, feature films and DTH videos. Except for the Big 5 studios, most of the independent studios will outsource. If you look at even 1 per cent of $70 billion, it is huge and I doubt the country can handle it. I can say safely that with all 70-odd animation companies cannot we deliver $100 million worth of business."

The "increasing interest" is evident. Pentamedia Graphics has just completed the production of Buddha, a $6-m 3D feature film, partly funded by the Singapore Government. Toonz Animation of Thiruvananthapuram says it recently bagged a feature film from an Italian production company. "This prestigious project will be a blend of 2D and 3D animation," says Mr P. Jayakumar, CEO of Toonz. Paprikaas has said it has received a job for making a 3D feature film for European audience. Both companies have said they are not yet ready to divulge details of their contracts. Crest Communications said the company has on hands "contracts in excess of $10 m." These contracts, Mr Madhavan said, "are all servicing jobs, not co-productions, where monies would come in back-end."

So that is the story of an emerging industry. There, however, appears to be one constraint — lack of talent. Here again there are widely varying estimates of the demand-supply gap, but Toonz Animations' Mr Jayakumar says "even a figure like 3 lakh vacancies would be a conservative estimate."

Sensing a business opportunity in this, almost all animation companies have started offering courses in animation software such as Maya and 3D Studiomax.

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