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May, 01 2007

The Next Sunshine Sector

FOR years, a cavalcade of animated cartoon characters has captured the hearts and imaginations of people in every corner of the globe through cinema houses and television sets.

FOR years, a cavalcade of animated cartoon characters has captured the hearts and imaginations of people in every corner of the globe through cinema houses and television sets. How are these cartoon movies made and who contributes in the making of a cartoon character?

Creative skill is intrinsic to the process of animation. It is this factor that has motivated many companies providing media-related services to jump into the field of animation. Global entertainment majors like Walt Disney, Imax, Warner Brothers and Sony are signing up huge contracts with Indian animation companies. While the Indian animation industry has been slow to take off, it has made rapid strides over the past few years. Animation and multi-media training institutes across the country are flourishing and expanding, as there is big demand for talented manpower in the animation industry.

Factors responsible for growth

India's attractiveness as an animation hub lies in the presence of English speaking workforce, high-quality software engineers, a large pool of creative talent, and good studios and low costs. The cost of producing a 30-minute, 3D animation programme in India is $ 60,000 compared to $ 250,000 to $ 400,000 in the US and Canada. India has a cost advantage compared to the Philippines, which is another low cost producer of animations.

Franchising on the upswing

Given the vast business opportunities, animation companies have opened training centres across the country. The major centres for the production of animation and interactive media in India are Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. These cities possess a unique combination of software expertise, production and animation expertise, and infrastructure, which are upgraded from time to time in order to meet international standards but the animation training companies have franchise outlets across India and even abroad.

Major animation training companies franchising in India include, Arena, Compufield, Toonz, Maya Academy, Digital Academy, Animaster, Ants, Color Chips and Penta Soft.

Arena Multimedia

Arena Multimedia, launched in 1996, is the animation and multi-media training arm of Aptech Ltd. With a decade of training experience, Arena has to its credit the privilege of being a pioneer in animation and multi-media training industry. Today it has a wide network of 150 centres spread across 15 countries and five continents.

When asked about the growth in the Indian animation industry, R. Krishnan, Executive Director, Aptech Ltd said, "The animation training industry is currently worth $354 million and with a projected growth of 25 per cent it will increase to $ 809 million by 2010." The animation industry is already facing a severe shortfall in terms of talented and quality conscious animators and there is a requirement of over 30,000 people, while only 10 per cent of this demand is being met currently, he said.

Aptech has been a leader in going through franchising in the education sector. The entire business has been to grow with franchisors who are business partners. Speaking about the franchising scenario in India, Krishnan says, "Franchising allows an organisation to scale up business rapidly at the same time ensuring that adequate processes and contacts are in place to deliver value to the customer."

Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC)

Initiated in 2001 as a backward integration wing to Maya Entertainment Ltd., MAAC is the Animation and Visual Effects training provider in the country. It offers production, ready and up-to date courses in the field of 3D Animation and Visual Effects. MAAC today has more than 50 centres across the country with two international locations in Abu Dhabi and Nepal. It also has the largest number of AutoDesk Authorized Training Centres (ATCs) in the country.

When asked about the challenges the company faced, Naveen Gupta, COO, MAAC said, "We have faced challenges in finding the right technical talent as instructors and that is why we ensure that once recruited, they go through a regular skill sets upgrade phase which not only ensures their growth but also enables us to provide the best education to the students."

Speaking about the growth in animation industry, Gupta says, "The animation industry in India has become one of the hottest industry with the Government of India lending full support by way of recognising the entertainment industry."

According to NASSCOM the animation industry in India is growing at the rate of more than 30 per cent annually and will touch $ 3 billion by 2008.

Supporting the franchise route for growth, Gupta said, "Franchising, especially in the animation training business is a very positive move because it lets us understand and adapt to the geographical and social variations in a country like India. India has a vast amount of untapped highly creative talent pool, which needs to be identified and trained. Franchising permits us to involve local level experts who have a better insight into the region, its culture and mindset."

Ants Animation

Ants Animation training school was set up in Bangalore in the year 2003 with the aim of providing quality education to aspiring young professionals in the field of animation and related multimedia applications.

Speaking about the current scenario in animation, Sreedhar V T, General Manager, Ants Studio Pvt Ltd. says, "There are about 300 animation companies, employing approximately 12,000 people in India. Further, industry estimates indicate that nearly 3,000 freelancers also work in the industry. The share of the domestic market is expected to grow. Indian companies have started focusing on the domestic market and demand for animated content has witnessed an upward trend over the past few years."

The animation industry is set to boom and India's share in the global animation market is likely to shoot up to $15 billion by 2008. To fulfill this huge demand, there is an immediate requirement of more training institutes across India, where young people can be trained for this growing sector.

Supporting the franchise route for growth Sreedhar said, "Franchising is the best possible way of reaching out to the hidden talent available in every nook and cranny of this great nation. When researched, we found that there is lot of creative talent available in every village, town and city. This is how we decided to get into franchising."

Compufield

Compufield started its operations in 1985 to impart training in Internet, Digital Art, Multimedia, Software and Network Engineering. The company offers many different courses covering the latest and most widely used software worldwide.

When asked about the animation business in India, Mahomedally Khairaz, Managing Director, Compufield said, "Definitely, it is a lucrative business universally and India cannot be isolated from the other part of the world, in India we have the manpower and are a foundation for any other country to grow in the animation business. We have creative and technical talent which is required for this industry."

Franchising the animation training for almost 10 years, Khairaz says, "The fundamental of franchising is fast catching up in animation training as there is more demand for skilled manpower in the industry. With IT awareness coming in, the scenario is changing and franchising is the best way to grow."

Penta Soft

Pentasoft is the education and training division of Penta Media. It offers training through domestic and international network of owned and franchised outlets. Now the company has launched a new brand in education and training namely 'Penta Magic', which mainly focuses on animation, multimedia and special effects.

"The company has opted franchise way for expansion and is well prepared for new opportunities in the high-growth areas of IT," said R Hariharan, Director and CEO, Penta Media.

Even on the domestic front, all major film and television producers are now using computer generated content in their productions for which they require trained people and Pentasoft is looking for prospective business partners who have passion for training, he said.

Animaster

Animaster training academy was set up with the aim of bringing international standard animation education to Indian shores. The academy imparts training not only in traditional or 2D animation but also in advanced 3D using such softwares as 3DS Max and Maya. Animaster also has collaboration with international animation company Algonquin College of Animation, Canada.

When asked about the growth in Animation sector, Bhanu Pratap Singh, Managing Director, Animaster, said, "By the year 2010 the industry is expected to employ approximately 30,000 professionals, representing a growth rate of over 50 per cent and be worth around $ 424 million."

Speaking about franchising, Singh said, "The scope of franchising in the animation training sector is very bright. Animation has the power to make the world come to a stop. In animation training the growth is rapid. The reason we decided to opt for franchising is because this is the best way to spread a brand across the nation."

The way ahead

With the kind of growth the industry has seen recently and the international market showing positive optimism in India, this industry provides one of the most lucrative business opportunities today. A person with good business acumen, financial backing, with knowledge of the local market place and a commitment to run the training centre can be a successful person in the animation sector.

India has the potential to become the global animation hub as Indian animation companies are collaborating with international animation companies. Going by the figures stated above, animation training in India is definitely a lucrative business proposition. In fact, animation is seen as the next sunshine sector after IT and ITES.

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