Perhaps a slight exaggeration – but not by much. Indian animation and visual special effects studios are taking the world by storm, advancing exponentially to create a very different landscape than the one a decade ago. We decided to explore why this is happening.
Bollywood is thriving: inside India and around the world. Bollywood had gross box office revenue of $2.1 billion in 2017 with that figure expected to rise to $3.7 billion by 2020. Bollywood is larger than Hollywood and it produces more content; with production kept largely within India, studios reap the benefits of delivering all the special effects required to keep up with demand from internationally recognised successes like Baahubali: The Beginning, whose reach spread beyond India in 2015 and helped to lead a change in perception.
Disney have been investing in Indian Film for years, though have shifted from the Bollywood to the Hollywood slate of late. Now new content makers are in on the action with Netflix being the prime example. Netflix are commissioning stacks of new original content including a lot of children’s animation in India, a market that is huge when you consider that 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25. This keeps the animation market buoyant, which supports VFX departments giving them plenty of opportunities for new studios to grab a piece of the action. Netflix aren’t likely to change course anytime soon given that India is one of the biggest internet markets in the world and with a Television sector five times the size of Film.
Unfortunately for Netflix, whilst they grabbed the headlines with the launch of Netflix India over two years ago, they are under huge pressure from services like Amazon and Hotstar for consumers. Based on active subscribers alone, they are losing the battle.
But whether it is it Bollywood or Hollywood or Television – or Netflix or Hotstar or Amazon – whoever ultimately wins the battle for market share in India, Indian studios are the victors.
The creative industry isn’t bound by geography in the way that it once was and that means many of the top VFX and animation studios in the UK and USA have Indian offices creating much of the paint, roto, and match move work for big projects. This can keep production costs down, thanks to differences in the cost of living, but it can also have quality advantages. Indian artists are often trained within their resident studios, so keeping standards high throughout long form is expected, irrespective of agreed production budgets.
Despite the advancements in technology and the globalisation of the creative industry, working with the North American Film and TV industry has dependency on good communication. Speaking English is still key. Whether it is winning production contracts or delivering to clear criterion throughout a project, Indian studios have been able to do so without learning an additional language; English is used across India as the language of business.
You have to be making a profit to keep the studio doors open. This is a constant challenge in animation as complexities in creation increase over time. When mistakes can affect profitability, and huge projects take an age to render, it’s vital that Indian studios have the best pipeline structure to keep their clients coming back for more. Delivering episodic animation or feature visual effects to schedule, with quality uncompromised, is business critical and one error can cost a contract, ruin broadcast dates, and derail a successful team forever.
Perhaps that’s why YellowDog rendering grabbed so much attention when we visited India last autumn with Chaos Group as part of our ongoing partnership.
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