Witches and thrones: Indian animators cash in on special effects boom

Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:07pm EDT
 
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By Nivedita Bhattacharjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - They call themselves Hollywood's best-kept secret: India's animators, long-time partners for the likes of Walt Disney Co, are reaping the rewards of surging demand for visual effects and gaining the confidence to venture out on their own.

India's animation industry generated revenue worth 44.9 billion rupees ($675.7 million) in 2014, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from a FICCI-KPMG report on India's media and entertainment industry.

The industry is expected to double in size to 95.5 billion rupees within five years, as Hollywood studios tap a large pool of low-cost, English-speaking animators who are familiar with Western culture.

So far, animators based in India have created crowd scenes and props for the Emmy award-winning TV series "Game of Thrones" as well as more prominent visual effects for films including Disney's 2014 Angelina Jolie movie "Maleficent" and Dreamworks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon", among other Hollywood hits.

"We are one of those best kept secrets. We do all this amazing work and no one knows about it," said Biren Ghose, who runs the Indian subsidiary of U.S. firm Technicolor, which includes the India-based animation units that worked on "Maleficent".

In a bid to gain more business and build a higher profile, a unit of Mumbai-listed visual effects firm Prime Focus Ltd last year bought London-based Double Negative, the studio that this year won an Oscar for best visual effects for "Interstellar".

Others like Prana Studios have attracted investment from some of the country's richest men - Reliance Industries' tycoon Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra of the diversified Mahindra Group.

"Of course cost is a big factor," said Arish Fyzee, Prana's chief executive and creative director, when asked about the Indian animation industry's appeal. Both Mahindra and Reliance declined to comment for this story.   Continued...

 
Prime Focus employees work inside a visual effects studio in Mumbai, India, October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui