Every time your heart starts pounding during an ultra-realistic fight scene in a film, or you are left in awe at the lifelike features of your favourite stars in a video game, remember a team of creative experts is behind the attractive output. And, they’re often closer home than you may think.
The visual effects industry has taken off in a big way in India. Till recently treated as a subcategory of the giant IT industry, the need to nurture this specific industry has become clearer than ever, with the biggest names across the globe scouting for Indian talent.
In the forefront
Technicolor, a worldwide technology leader in the media and entertainment sector, is among those in the forefront of animation and digital entertainment in India. Technicolor India is a multi-dimensional facility within a single location, at the International Tech Park in Whitefield, providing a confluence between art, technology and entertainment. It has been operating in India since 2007 and is now has a 1,000-plus team.
The India organisation has three main business divisions i.e. A & G (animation & gaming), MPC (moving picture company) and DDG (digital delivery group).
In addition, through their collaboration with DreamWorks, Technicolor manages a dedicated production unit consisting of over 200 world-class artists for DreamWorks in India. Having worked on films such as Life of Pi, Skyfall and Kung Fu Panda, they are certainly proving to be India’s representative in the animation sector.
Tata Elxsi, another global player, also specifically dedicates a part of their business to the industry, known as the Video Computing Labs, or VCL. With a number of leading tie-ups, they too have paved the way for the growth of the sector.
Founded in 2001, Tata Elxsi has provided services to companies such as Disney and Sony on numerous award-winning films.
These organisations have not only provided global exposure to people from small towns and villages, but also honed their skills in fine arts, helping them canalise their abilities into creating digital magic.
S.T. Shivaraman, an employee from a small town in Tamil Nadu who joined Technicolor 10 years ago, is one such success story. “Since joining Technicolor, I have worked on projects such as Penguins of Madagascar,” says Mr. Shivaraman. “It gave me the opportunity to explore my creativity in a different way,” he added.
Leon Krishnan, another employee from Ahmedabad, had the opportunity to visit the Nickelodeon studios in California, U.S.
The films these companies have worked on have gained recognition on the biggest global platforms, from the Oscars to the Emmys. This has ensured that there is no dearth of talent entering their workspace, as they have cemented themselves as good creative outlets.
Biren Ghose, CEO of Technicolor India, is a key figure in the discourse with the government, aside from his work with the company. He feels that the digital entertainment industry is one of great potential and must be clearly defined in policy to protect from being a small subset of IT that loses out owing to lack of size.
‘Food for the soul’
“Entertainment and content, in many of its forms, is food for the soul. Improvement and digital innovation is, in essence, a form of artistic expression and must be nurtured,” says Mr. Ghose. “If treated entirely as computer-related, its potential for expansion will remain limited as a small part of IT,” he adds.
In addition to this, they also wish to encourage integration of technical skills in using software such as Maya into the curriculum of fine arts colleges, to provide budding artists with the option to explore digital avenues. To provide this, they have agreed to set up facilities to train teachers for these subjects.
Apart from the big players, a large number of startups indicate the awareness of the potential in the sector. Many new companies have sprung up in India, especially in Bangalore and Pune, recognising the need for a separate policy on digital content. The industry may still be taking small steps in the Indian context, but the craze for films and the emerging trends toward mobile and console gaming has certainly proven that this sector is one for the future.