A Brief History of VFX and Animation in India
The VFX and animation industries have historically been the starting gate of 3D in India. With a decades-old established presence of 2D animation outsourcing studios, during the second half of the ’90s studios gradually adopted CG pipelines and started working on international shows. This was not an easy task, as CG training courses were at the time virtually nonexistent in India. Studios had to learn and train their teams to adopt these completely new workflows, shifting traditional 2D artists to 3D pipelines.
Nowadays, Indian animation and VFX studios not only support CG content creation for international movies and TV series for a worldwide broadcast market but also work on domestic projects, which increasingly employ the use of CG (Baahubali, 2015). The animation industry has seen steady growth in the past years, but IP work has been growing faster, by 18.4% from 2018 to 2019, versus 8.9% for services, according to a 2019 KPMG report.
According to the same report, “The Indian animation, VFX and post-production industry is expected to more than double in the next five years.” These are impressive numbers, although we do not yet know how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect these forecasts.
The emergence of online streaming services has also increased the demand for CG content creation for movies and series, and the Indian market has benefited and surfed this trend.
Finally, mirroring what has happened in Canada in the past few decades, government incentives have also helped the Indian VFX and animation markets lift off, thanks to national and state-level subsidies, fiscal incentives, and the creation of a large number of local hubs and facilities.
Evolution of the Indian VFX market
India is already on the map now, isn’t it? It’s now about high-end skills over the next few years. Should be fun.
With audiences now watching Indian content globally via OTT platforms (streaming services such as Netflix) and bigger releases, and Indian content having to compete for eyeballs with content from across the globe, the needs of Indian productions are rivaling those from anywhere. We use the same talent force for a project from the US as one from India. The lines are blurring, and that’s what we want to see from a creative perspective.
Evolution of the Indian 3D animation landscape
The animation training scenario in India has been using a combination of traditional 2D and 3D animation techniques within their curriculum. Predominantly the 3D work revolved around Autodesk Maya. But during the last few years, more and more quality live-action/CGI movies like The Jungle Book, Black Panther, and CGI movies like The Lion King started coming to India for the CGI- and VFX-related work, and the demand for specialized software for modeling, texturing, techanim, and crowd stimulation has increased. Arena Animation Sayajigunj have started introducing ZBrush, Mari, Substance Painter, Miarmy, and Golaem in their curriculum. The combination of these software tools is also highly in demand with the gaming industry.
Opportunities in India
While an important part of Toonz’s focus is to maximize the international opportunities, the growing global entertainment industry brings both traditional TV channels and networks, as well as rising OTT platforms, which are growing enormously. The domestic Indian market is also exciting and an enormous opportunity in itself, experiencing both a rise in traditional TV viewership, as well as an anticipated significant rise in digital users over this coming decade as increased income and more affordable high-speed streaming and internet access pave the way for more Indian users to access and enjoy content more readily. This will create an increase in the demand for digital entertainment. To give an idea, there will be around 300 million new users in India by 2025, as highlighted in the KPMG India’s Media and Entertainment Report 2019, and Toonz and the Indian Animation Industry are better positioned than ever to meet this rising demand for entertainment content.