The year 2022 has been quite good for the Indian animation studios as some worked and launched new IPs, some inked partnerships with other studios and some ventured into different forays. The studios and animation industry has been doing great over the years but with the AVGC Taskforce in place, the industry and studios are hopeful to reach new heights with its help in the near future.
To look back at the studios’ performance in 2022 and know about their exciting plans for 2023, Animation Xpress got in touch with several animation studios, and here’s what they have to say:
Progress Report 2022
Having a transformational year, Assemblage Entertainment fared well in terms of new projects and revenues. They have had a super busy year as they were concurrently working on several formats such as theatrical films, episodic and television, and short-form content across genres, artistic styles and various technology stacks. In 2022, they onboarded several North American and European clients and delivered some high-value projects for their existing long-term clients. The studio delivered shows for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+ Hotstar, HBO Max, Peacock (Universal) and others. Assemblage also recently launched their in-house VFX unit and lead R Madhavan’s directorial movie Rocketry: The Nambi Effect in terms of VFX.
Assemblage also joined hands with Cinesite, an entertainment studio headquartered in London with additional studios in Montreal and Vancouver alongside group VFX brands Image Engine, Trixter and FX3X as well as animation brands L’Atelier Animation and Squeeze Animation. Speaking about the partnership, Assemblage Entertainment CEO Arjun Madhavan said, “We are confident that our new partners will be an invaluable asset to our team and business as we move into the next phase of our growth. The dream of putting India and Asia as a front-runner in the global animation and VFX stage continues.”
The studio recently concluded a recruitment campaign in Hyderabad and Bengaluru and in 2022 they even got a new studio facility with new technology to keep up with the rapidly evolving needs of the animation industry.
On the other hand, Ssoftoons Animation launched its new OTT platform Ssoftoons Plus for Android users in 2022. It has carefully curated original animated content in Indian languages which reflects Indian cultural values and history. Designed for complete family viewing and for all age groups, the platform has content in various genres ranging from mythology, comedy, folklore and drama with a special section for kids content. Apart from that, the company developed a new IP named Twinkle Sharma which will be broadcasted on Hungama TV (Disney India). Twinkle Sharma is centred around the titular character who is an intelligent and daring girl that solves problems faced by her friends and family. Overall, it’s been a successful year for Ssoftoons.
Paperboat Design Studios, one of the creative power houses known for delivering high-quality animated content such as Fukrey Boyzzz, Sub Jholmaal Hai, Bandbudh Aur Budbak and so on, had a mixed experience in the year 2022. But they have worked on two big shows that will be released in 2023.
“It was a great year in terms of new achievements, cracked investment, started two new domestic projects and one international project. Some setbacks happened in terms of an international market crash, but it’s all part of the deal,” said Paperboat Design Studios director and co-founder Aashish Mall.
The studio has a 250 plus workforce which includes all three branches – Mumbai, Pune and Surat. Paperboat Design Studios did not have any new expansion plan in 2022 but they are very positively looking at Dubai.
According to Mall, there has been exceptional growth in international demand, the domestic market is facing some corrections and the government is putting effort to make it mainstream. In terms of the role of the AVGC taskforce, he also feels DD Kids can be a game changer in the IP space.
Dominant Trends and Technology
“In recent years, the animation industry has embraced new technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which are being used to create immersive experiences and interactive content,” said Ssoftoons COO Hansa Mondal on new technologies.
She also pointed out some trends in the animation industry – Increased use of 3D animation; rise of streaming platforms; increased use of virtual production, artificial learning and machine learning; greater diversity in storytelling and representation.
According to Zebu Animation Studios director Viren Patil, “It’s all Real-time and Motion Capture now! The advent of real-time technology has not only fastened and streamlined the whole production process but the biggest game changers have been near real-time interactions between the directors and artists. This allows us to experiment, try out new ideas quickly and ultimately get more creative results.” He also thinks that the rising popularity of animation in social media is the coolest trend in the animation industry as plenty of creators are making reels or shorts using 2D/3D animation.
Talking about the latest tools and software, Mall said, “Toon Boom is the new addition in Paperboat apart from Animate CC and Maya. And 2D artists are loving it.”
Current projects and 2023 plans
Besides providing VFX services to leading Hollywood and international studios, Assemblage Entertainment is currently working on a brand new theatrical CG animated film Sneaks. “With a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure that caters to the industry’s hybrid working models, several hundred talented artists and technologists, and exciting global high-end projects in the works, Assemblage is aiming for the stars,” said Madhavan about the studio’s future plans.
In 2023, Ssoftoons is looking forward to the release of Twinkle Sharma and they are open to connecting with other such right opportunities in the future. While sharing Ssoftoons’ plans for 2023, Mondal said, “Our future planning includes developing new content such as creating original IPs or adapting existing properties for animation; expanding distribution channels such as partnering with streaming platforms or distributors; investing in technology to stay competitive and improve the quality of content; building a strong team by hiring talented individuals and fostering positive and collaborative work environment.”
Zebu Animation is stoked about its upcoming project with Additional Skill Acquisition Program (ASAP), the skilling department under the Education Ministry of the Kerala Government. The studio is starting a school there for storytelling. “Cheers to Dr Usha Titus and her team at ASAP for having been amazing supporters,” said Patil on Zebu’s collaboration with ASAP.
‘Global IP’ is the mantra for next year for Paperboat Design Studios and Mall believes that they are very close to cracking it. “Soon we are starting work on Cosmos League 118 for a global audience,” Mall shared.
As the industry awaits for the government to announce the policies for the AVGC industry, in 2023 Indian studios are looking forward to collaborating with more international studios, developing and launching more IPs and growing in all aspects.
Read: How the year 2022 has been for other animation studios.