MUMBAI: The animation industry seems to be gearing up and how! With deals galore being signed, the Indian animation industry has its plates full.
Padmalaya Telefilms, animation arm of media major Zee Telefilms, has clinched a hat-trick of deals in the last quarter. Great for Padmalaya no doubt but there is a problem of personnel (or should we say lack of it) that it is grappling with. In order to execute the deals, it needs around 400 animation industry professionals with different skill sets.
In a leading daily, Padmalaya Telefilms has advertised a whole host of vacancies that need filling in order for it to be able to to execute its long term agreement with the US and European animation companies for producing more than 260 episodes of 2D and 3D animation projects. These being:
1. Animation Directors - 2
2. Production Co-ordinators - 4
3. 2D Animators - 60
4. IB & Clean up Artists - 120
5. Layout and Background Artists - 12
6. 3D Animators - 70
Speaking to indiantelevision.com last Friday, Padmalaya Telefilms executive director G V Narsimha Rao said, "A major concern for us is the lack of animators in the country. We have bagged all these contracts, but the implementation is a big apprehension for us. The dearth of animators in the industry is going to prove fatal if we don't pull up our socks."
With the conclusion of an agreement in January to co-produce a number of TV series with US-based Cybergraphix Animation, Padmalaya Telefilms had also signed up a $ 14 million deal with Mondo TV for the co-production and licensing of animation series, at the recent MIP TV 2004 in Cannes.
After its mega-deal with Mondo, Padmalaya also bagged another big order from Europe. Joining hands with Mallard Media of Scotland and Ealing Animation of UK to produce 52 episodes of 10 minutes each in a deal worth $ 5.2 million as reported earlier by indiantelevision.com.
In an attempt to churn out more animators, Padmalaya - ZICA, a premier traditional and digital academy based currently in Hyderabad and Mumbai with a total capacity of 85 students is also going to be setting up its base in Calcutta. A launch of ZICA in other metros too is in the pipeline, as an impetus to attract and train more individuals for the animation industry per se.The good news is that the deal clinched by Padmalaya, for the first time in the history of the animation industry in India will hold 100 per cent licensing rights for the South Asian region, and 20 per cent licensing right for the rest of the world in the case of the Mondo TV and Cybergraphix Animation deal . Whereas in the case of the tripod arrangement with Mallard media and Ealing animation, the licensing rights are more that 30 per cent for Padmalaya in rest of the world and in the SAARC countries being 100 per cent.
So while in one case, Padmalaya Telefilms seems to have got itself into a win-win-win situation although, one cannot discount the mammoth task in terms of delivering these projects on their due date, considering delivery is the most vital factor in the animation industry. Also, the lack of animators in the country seems to be posing itself as a big obstacle. Whether these high risk deals will actually materialize into high returns for Padmalaya and be a boost for the nascent Indian animation industry is quite another story that only time can tell.