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India’s Animation & VFX Players Come To The Fore As Pandemic Rules Take Centre-Stage

India’s Animation & VFX Players Come To The Fore As Pandemic Rules Take Centre-Stage

Requests for animation and VFX projects have increased significantly, as live-action production has been more severely hit by the lockdown

Primarily driven by outsourced work and kids-centric content, animation and VFX studios are also cashing in on the higher demand for content from OTT platforms

But the biggest hurdle for the industry is the high cost of production and star-led profitability models in mainstream cinema. Will the lockdown open up the market for animation?

This week, Netflix paid for a new hoarding in LA — “You Will Work Again In This Town”, it said, in contrast to the oft-repeated threat of banishment from Hollywood. The video streaming giant used those words in solidarity to show that it can feel the pain of out-of-work production crews and artists in the US. The Indian entertainment industry too has suffered from the lockdowns and pandemic measures.

But the show must go on, and content creators, production houses and filmmakers around the world are using this unprecedented moment to tell their stories in a different way. Animated content, VFX stories and mixed media are making a comeback in a big way in 2020 — Covid-19 might finally bring animation to more audiences and go beyond kids’ stories.

In India, the animation industry often flies under the radar, but much of the world’s biggest animated movies and action-packed blockbusters pass through India thanks to it being a major outsourcing hub. For over the last two decades, visual effects and animation studios dotted around Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Trivandrum, and Hyderabad have been putting the finishing touches on Hollywood mega projects. For instance, the India office of Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues, acquired by Prana Studios in 2013, delivered a majority of the visual effects in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning ‘Life of Pi’ released in 2012. Soho-headquartered Moving Picture Company outsourced the majority of the visual effects work for ‘Jungle Book’ released in 2016 to its Bengaluru office.

The dragons on the global phenomenon ‘Game Of Thrones’ (GoT) were created by around 800 animators in an Indian subsidiary of LA-based Prana Studios, in Mumbai’s Goregaon suburb. Prana is a 3D, visual effects and animation company backed by Indian investors including Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani and Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra. It also created the set and crowd extensions through VFX and CGI work in the fifth season of GoT.