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Updated: March 5, 2012 09:59 IST

Animation policy: a work in progress?

Deepa Kurup
Comment (14)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
A artist lerning 3-D Animation on a PC on the occasion of International Animation day celebrated in Hyderabad. File photo
The Hindu
A artist lerning 3-D Animation on a PC on the occasion of International Animation day celebrated in Hyderabad. File photo

Entrepreneurs and stakeholders voice their concerns and reservations

This week, the State Government unveiled its much-talked-about policy on the animation and gaming sector.

Akin to its previous policies for the IT, BT and hardware sector, this policy too primarily aims to attract fresh investments in this emerging field, with an eye on the services and outsourcing sector, and on building and training a skilled workforce to meet the projected demand.

With this policy, titled ‘Karnataka Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics Policy', the State projects an industry worth of Rs. 10,000 crore by the end of 2012, which it hopes will grow by at least 40 per cent by 2015.

Largely sketchy

However, industry members, many of whom have collaborated with the Government in evolving this policy, see the current version of the policy as a “work in progress”. A lot of the policy, particularly the parts dealing with venture funds and sops the Government has promised, is largely sketchy.

At the panel discussion and interactions that followed the celebrated unveiling event, entrepreneurs and stakeholders voiced their concerns and reservations about the policy. While some pointed out that in the absence of guidelines, a lot of this may remain on paper, others said that the allocations made therein were “all too paltry”.

For instance, the fund of Rs. 1 crore that has been allotted under the head of “promoting IP creation”, industry members pointed out, is “all too nominal”. Industry sources point out that on an average, a typical 90-minute film takes four to five years to create, and an investment of around Rs. 10 crore.

‘Lack of funds'

Ankur Bhasin, secretary of ABAI, agrees that the biggest issue facing the industry is paucity of funds. The current situation in the industry, he describes as a “chicken-and-egg” condition, where the predominant issue is the poor quality of IP being generated. “Now, the reason for this is the lack of funds for creating IP. So the quality does not meet international standards, and so naturally, the work does not distribute well,” he explains. This, he emphasises, can only be solved if some sort of Government support, in terms of tax breaks or even seed funds, is provided.

Mr. Bhasin explains that unlike other industries, creating content takes longer, sometimes up to five years. “During this period, it is important that a production house or company be able to sustain. Only if this initial part is taken care of can companies or entrepreneurs even think of working on original content,” he says.

More critical interventions by the Government, he adds, would be in sectors such as power, where animation companies (that operate large data centres and high-end computing units) have been demanding a shift in tariff patterns from industrial to commercial. Entrepreneurs feel that the policy should be more focussed on issues that are specific to this industry.

A key commitment by the Government is to promote public and private parks on the SEZ model and provide various fiscal incentives and concessions such as exemption from stamp duty, payment of entry tax for export-oriented enterprises, and establishment cost subsidies. However, industry members say that these have not been sketched out and there is little clarity yet on what the nature of these incentives will be. For entrepreneurs, the policy proposes the setting up of a venture fund worth Rs. 50 crore, with a Government contribution of 26 per cent.

Biren Ghose, president of the Association of Bangalore Animation Industry and country head of Technicolor India, says the venture fund intends to create a ‘garage culture', akin to the Silicon Valley model. “The model has already yielded results in the IT and Biotechnology sectors where research and innovation as well as commercial initiatives have been spurned by such funds,” he said.

Emphasis on training

The most significant and well laid-out part of this policy is the section that deals with setting up a Centre of Excellence, whichwill include a finishing academy-cum-incubation centre to be set up in Bangalore at an estimated cost of Rs. 50 crore. This, along with a post-production and digital intermediary facility (worth Rs. 30 crore), will include an incubation centre that will also provide small and medium entrepreneurs space to carry out their projects. This will be set up on a PPP basis, with contributions from the State (20 per cent) and Union governments (30 per cent).

Industry members are “extremely optimistic” about the skills training roadmap that has been sketched out. They agree that it can go a long way in creating jobs in the sector, particularly in tier II and tier III cities where digital arts is a largely unexplored field.

The policy lays out a proposal to identify 10 fine arts colleges to set up digital arts centres on a PPP basis.

@ B S Kumar-I work in the industry I also lived in the West so I am not somone who is saying things like ARM CHAIR PUNDITS-I have seen great talent in India from villages in Thamizh Nadu to cities like Kolkatta-very good artists. If you goto a place called CHOLMADALAM in Injambakkam Chennai called as the ARtist's Village the art is here is on the same level as it is in USA & UK. Also in USA or UK artist comes from streets where they display they work - there is no Government Support

from:  Vikram Niranjan
Posted on: Mar 7, 2012 at 11:35 IST

Gentlemen, this "talent" you talk about in India are all just tool skills, not art skills. Have you seen the work of a single graduate of a serious art school in the USA? Do you have ANY idea how large the divide is between India and them? India never made a serious investment in developing its artists. Any wonder India produces a lot of engineers and doctors and no artists of note? Animation is not a "technical" skill. As for the work going on in Indian animation companies for foreign productions, it is low level work, not conceptual level.
No, I do not agree with having to start "somewhere". We never made a serious start in art education in post independent India. We are the largest film industry in the world, with single digit worldwide market share percentage. This is not an accident. We simply do not make product that can compete with the best in the world, forget about sensibilities and other illusions. The claims of Indian animation companies are dubious at best.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 7, 2012 at 00:29 IST

It is a good idea to digitise fine arts colleges. I myself studied in a government
colleges and i had friends who would not get training in their courses on any digital art tools. This will make them industry ready. But why must government bear the costs? Why can private companies not do this for the government colleges? It is of course they that will benefit from the tlnet.

from:  Mohan Kumar,IISC, Bangalore
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 23:55 IST

I think the debate here is missing the point. I am a technology enthusiast and have
been reading newspapers on technology related policies. I teach management at
three business schools and follow these debates carefully.
I was shocked to read here that a policy released does not have the details spelt out.
This attitude to policy making keeps surfacing and I see the government make a
show of "celebrated" policy release and functions. Good to see the media go beyond

from:  Sayantan Ghosh
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 20:23 IST

@Prakash Cavale You are right, there is great scope in India for animation we not lagging far behind as we make it out to be. First of all in the West they have very tight Intellectual Piracy Laws, which now comming into effect in India.The backbone of any animation & multimedia industry is Creative Content-now if someone steals it and gets away how can any start up company survive? If you do this in UK or USA you will be put behind bars. I have been working in this Industry for a few years as an Instructional Designer and also as a Project Manager-I was surprised even in Chennai I found very talented people who came from towns like Gudiyatham they had a good skills, they are disciplined. I have been to South Korea, Japan lived in UK I will tell you in certain fronts we are more advanced the only trouble is due to lack of exposure here they think that in UK and so on they know everything-we sell oursleves cheaply to them as we do not know out own strengths we do not know our worth.

from:  Vikram Niranjan
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 14:51 IST

I am not sure if Mr.B.S.Kumar is from the Industry!, we have been in the Industry for the past 5+ years are closely watching the developments, we have seen that the scope for this industry is huge and want to help the community in developing to the world standards,The world has accepted the Indian talent at large! quite a bit of Hollywood movies contents are done in Bangalore today in companies like Tata Elxsi, Technicolor, MPC, Dreamworks India, Primfocus, 15 year old Dhruva the gaming company is a trend setter in India, all of them are managing of there own, apart from this dozens of small companies, These companies have invested quite a bit of time and money in developing the talent to the required standards, 15 years back if some one had asked the same question on IT BT, I don't think the answer would have been different, people have right to express but try and meet up with the team understand what we are up to before making statements.

from:  prakash cavale
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 12:07 IST

@ B S Kumar-you are right in a sense but we have to start somewhere and we cannot live in the idea that we are lagging behind by 20 years in which case by 2022 we can write we are lagging behind by 40 and so on. If you look at animation in India we are coming up you see the movie CHOPIN which won an Oscar I think but I am sure it was nominated-most of the work was done in Chennai by a company called ACCEL ANIMATION. There is hope and I see loads of talented professional in this industry even from small towns in Tamil Nadu who work with me in Chennai-that gives hope for the future.

from:  Vikram Niranjan
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 10:05 IST

I work for an animation company in Bangalore and was sent to attend this function. Everybody there was hoping that there would be larger announcements for start-ups and smaller companies. If the policy benefits only the already influential players that will be sad. We are also told the associations are working on this and hope will take the startup culture into consideration.

from:  Sounderarajan
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 04:16 IST

Perhaps government must explore animation wider than the context of just games and entertainment. For instance education sector has a good demand of animated content for mobile platforms.

from:  Hari Shankar
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 04:03 IST

Absolutely agreeing with the first commenter above - There is no connection between animation and IT.

from:  Sathya
Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 02:19 IST

Still.. Rendering ! Since from 10 years animation policy is rendering mode ( Animation policy: a work in progress? March 5, 2012 ). Print, TV, Web and Mobile sectors widely utilized the creative brains and gained sufficient amount, but failed to join hands collectively for framing a strong policy to the creative sector. Animation training institutes gained their investments when demand is more, now those institutes are facing big trouble with zero admission per month. Majority of animation studio employees are not getting right pay to their hard work. A television channel video editing employee maximum salary is fixed for 13,000/- in A.P state. How long creative brains will survive with these salary structures. A strong policy will happen only with creative brains and industry collective effort. Until the time this policy will be in rendering mode forever.

Posted on: Mar 6, 2012 at 01:45 IST

Honestly we all should look at expanding H.R. 3596 - United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection to include returning USA veterans. This proposed legislation is intended to bring jobs back to America however both India and the Philippines generally believe this bill won't pass and in fact they are stating their economy will grow by another 15 Billion USD this year in outsourced work from the USA. I say we couple these proposed bills and keep the 15 billion in the USA with the majority focused towards our veterans. I would propose that any company in the USA that brings their outsourced positions back to the USA not only keep their tax credits but gain twice as much for bringing these positions back and employing US veterans. Let the companies that continue to ship job offshore pay for this with the fines that will be levied upon them.

from:  Michael Curry
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 23:19 IST

Fantastic move. This will help India to lead the world in Animation, Games and Media. Let us take over the world like we did in IT!

from:  Rama
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 18:05 IST

This is a pipe dream for smoke blowers and thieves and culprits to run off with easy cash. What has the Indian animation industry shown in terms of real and measurable promise? Any Indian product in the world market that we can speak of?

The only measurement here is against the benchmark of Hollywood product, and the bottomline is quality. What has India invested in creating artists over the last few decades? Zilch. Now why is animation being spoken of in the same breath as IT? There is no connection whatsoever.

Whoever is advising the government is either clueless or has serious malicious intent! This is the business of art, in which India lags behind by decades, and it is absolute folly to think the laws of "outsourcing" would apply to creative production. Indian animation companies are almost never headed by artists, so they will never understand what it takes. The word "spurned" has accidentally been used correctly in the article above?

Government, get wise - please!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 5, 2012 at 16:01 IST
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