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Shortage of skilled animators hits industry

Preeti Pandey

Bangalore , Oct. 31

WILL the hype surrounding the potential boom offered by the Indian animation industry remain just that?

While the global animation industry offers a huge $70-billion opportunity, the shortfall of skilled animators and high entry barriers might just prevent Indian firms wanting to make it big in the global animation market.

The Indian animation industry is expected to demand 40,000 animators by next year while there are an estimated 10,000 professionals as of now.

"Even though we have the required wherewithal to produce full-length 3D animated movies, India is sadly getting to be the destination of low-end work. We are underpricing to compete with the Korean industry but the cost-cutting factor cannot sustain the (domestic) studio for long. We need to build the India brand for animation and for this, we need trained animators," Mr K. Chandrashekar, General Manager, Visual Computing Labs (VCL), a division of Tata Elxsi, told Business Line.

Production costs for a half-hour show in the US would be in the $250,000-$300,000; the same show can be done for half the cost in India, yet US studios prefer to retain the pre- and post-production work, outsourcing only production-related work such as rendering, lighting and modelling to Indian firms, according to Mr Chandrashekar. Unless more Indian animation studios start to product full-length movies, the country might lose out on valuable learning opportunities, including syndication of features, merchandising and distribution, he said.

Interestingly, while the industry laments the dearth of skilled animators, training institutes such as Arena Multimedia are trying to equip students with basic skills like drawing besides the animation software, according to Mr Atul Vohra, Head, Arena Multimedia. The Animation Producers' Association of India (APAI) is trying to do a Nasscom to create awareness about the Indian animation industry overseas, according to Mr Bhuvan Lall, founder, APAI.

With India having to face stiff competition from Korea, Taipei and the Philippines, a proactive governmental stance would help spur the momentum of the Indian animation.

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