The passionate, energised and motivated team of M2 Animation has now brought its energy from Denmark, Bangkok and LA to Mumbai by officially inaugurating its branch in the city on 20 January 2023. Part of Denmark’s M2 Group’s family, the award-winning studio is known to work in segments catering to pre-school and mature content in 2D and 3D using Unreal. In animation, the company has worked on projects such as – several projects of Lego, Otis, Angry Birds, Always Together, Disney’s Frozen and others. For Games Workshop, the studio has worked on Warhammer. In collaboration with Tremblay Bros. Studios, M2 Animation’s LA team has created IPs to emphasise on the script-to-screen module and they are hoping to grow in this area in future.
M2 Animation is helmed by Mads Munk, who is the founder and group CEO, and Torsten Jakobsen who is the partner and CEO. Jakobsen shared, “While the team in Bangkok is nearly 300, due to infrastructure limitations we decided to look at India as a viable expansion market. With major studios’ presence in Mumbai along with the availability of an immense talent pool, more than a year ago we decided to start a studio here and are super excited to see it come to fruition.”
Munk added, “When we worked in India previously, we had a good experience and we think that the industry is amazing here as it is scalable.”
At the inauguration ceremony of M2 Animation’s Mumbai studio, Munk along with Bangkok and Mumbai studio head Owen Hurley expressed their excitement, gratitude, motivation and welcomed the Mumbai team on board. The special guest at the event was Danish consulate general Eske Bo Rosenberg, who was proud to be a part of the ceremony and see a Danish company grow. He also emphasised on Denmark – India relationships and hopes to see it grow further.
M2 Animation appointed Hurley as the Mumbai studio head owing to his work experience in India. Hurley commented, “It’s been a labour of love. I’m proud of the team and I’m proud to be a part of the Indian animation story. It’s a collaborative story between the teams of Denmark, Bangkok and Mumbai, and we’ll be identifying the strengths of each team and collaborating with them.”
M2 Animation’s Mumbai story
The M2 team is in love with the vibrant Indian city and are of the strong opinion their decision to expand the company has been absolutely correct as there’s no better place than this. Located in Andheri, the Mumbai studio space can house up to 150 people. Currently, 80-90 employees are working in the studio and the company is looking forward to making it 200 by following a hybrid model.
To make hybrid work smoother, they’ll be providing VDI access to the teams which can also be used by the teams present in Bangkok, LA or Denmark. “M2 is way ahead when it comes to the technology because it understands its base principles of pipeline technology. We are completely moving into virtualisation in terms of the system required by the artists to work on,” shared Technology (IT and Pipeline) spearhead Kayash Khan. His experience as an FX artist has helped him build the pipeline and IT department of M2 Animation Mumbai.
Regarding the company’s pipeline, Hurley said, “M2 quietly had been forging a path in Unreal making high-quality episodics and trailers for Games Workshop. While the rest of the animation industry was just talking about Unreal, M2 was quietly working on it. M2 has an innovative team and pipeline, and the work stands out on the global scale.”
An optimistic Bangkok and Mumbai head of production Kylie Ellis believes that M2 Animation can grow further from the Mumbai team’s ideas and experience which they bring in their work.
She said, “This is my first time in Mumbai and India, so I’m super excited. I love the space that we have established here and the amazing artists that we have been able to bring on board. It is important that we build relationships with creators based in India and find a way to produce content not only for Asia but also for North America and worldwide.”
Talking about the projects, Jakobsen said, “At the moment the company is focusing more on international work and projects as we have an international clientele.” Mentioned Hurley, “Indian projects are not in the current pipeline but we’ll surely consider it in the future.”
Commented director and studio director – Mumbai Ashutosh S. Jayakar, “We take immense pride in officially announcing the opening of our global studio, M2 Animation, in the heartland of Mumbai. The Mumbai journey with which we had started on a soft note a year back is now into the foray with a big bang.
Sharing about the company’s work, he said, “ At M2 Animation, our expertise lies in delivering high-class animation content for various clientele along with robust associations with the likes of Lego and Games Workshop. We are also entering into newer collaborations with prominent names of the industry while simultaneously developing in-house IPs. Mumbai being the first stop in India is just the beginning and we are here to grow!”
Balanced work culture at M2
Diversity is an important part of M2’s values. Animation director Amit Sharma shared, “M2 thinks about its people and how they need to work on time, maintaining work-life balance. We have now worked with M2 for almost two years but the pressure or workload hasn’t been passed on to the animators and they have hardly stayed back post their work hours in the last two years. In that sense, we are trying to be different from the other animation studios. From my experience of 20 years in the industry, I have learned that moving forward I do not want to bring in or cultivate wrong habits like extended work hours in M2 and focus more on how things can be done the other way around.”
Sharma is looking forward to working in more 3D for international projects in the future.
Creative director Mahesh Holla said, “In my previous organisation I had the opportunity to collaborate with M2 and when Jayakar offered me a job as creative director I happily accepted it as I’ve always trusted Jayakar and his instincts. Work-life balance is the USP of M2 Animation. For me, there’s a fine balance between quality and quantity. I cannot compromise with quality because if you compromise on the quality the future is not going to be great.”
Commenting on the type of content M2 works on, he said, “We don’t only want to be service providers, we also want to be known as IP creators in the future and our LA team is already on that pathway.”
Training the Indian talent
“We have hired freshers even if they have little knowledge about the workflow but we have trained and hired the ones who have shown passion and commitment. M2 will be a production-backed creative-driven studio as we truly believe in creativity,” said Holla about hiring talent at the studio.
Commenting on the Indian animation industry, Hurley said, “The Indian animation industry is maturing. On a global scale, it’s comparatively young but the talent pool has grown exponentially in the last decade. There’s still a need for quality training and training opportunities for kids in India. I’m interested in partnering with the right institutions to help steer course content that can support the next generation of artists and make them understand the needs of the industry. There’s no doubt about the content and talent. There’s a lot to be proud of about the Indian animation industry.”
As a group M2 Animation plans to grow further, although they are hiring people from all over India, they’ll soon be hiring people from Pune. For them, it’s all about collaboration and building a sense of unity between the studios by capitalising on their strengths.
Talking about the Mumbai team, Jayakar said, “The team that we are building here is an extremely passionate team with a go-for-a-kill attitude while clearly maintaining a work-life balance and that’s going to be our true DNA. The setting up of the Mumbai operations has been a joy and a true success but wouldn’t have been remotely possible without my lieutenants Amit Sharma, Mahesh Holla, and Kayash Khan and a special mention to Rajesh Murkumbi for relentlessly toiling to get the studio up and running just in time for the inauguration.”
The company is currently working on various projects, to name a few, it is working on a Disney show and another episodic for a major entertainment company apart from Lego projects. With a big international clientele, M2 Animation is eyeing to grow steadily at the global level with a firm footing in India too.