KAM SUMMIT ‘21 | Advisory members share their viewpoints on the evolving animation industry

The massive extravaganza and information loaded KAM summit came to an end with “Wrap up with Industry Leaders” panel where the backbone of the event, the advisory members, gathered virtually to discuss their thoughts and visions on how to make the animation industry propel further and the key takeaways from this three-day long summit.

The advisory members included Toonz Media Group CEO P Jayakumar, Vaibhav Studios founder and director Vaibhav Kumaresh, Zebu Animation CEO Adi Shayan, Green Gold Animations CEO Rajiv Chilaka, FICCI AVGC chairman and Punnaryug Artvision founder Ashish Kulkarni, Technicolor country head Biren Ghose, Assemblage Entertainment founder and CEO AK Madhavan aka MadMax, Walt Disney Animation Studios character technical director-simulation supervisor Avneet Kaur, Autodesk India technical solutions manager Samit Shetty, Joan Vogelesang Consultants president and CEO Joan Vogelesang and AVGC Centre of Excellence, Karnataka and secretary ABAI Srinivas Sribhakta.

Moderated by Animation Xpress founder and editor-in-chief Anil Wanwari, the panel discussion began with Vogelesang praising the event. She said , “One of the takeaways from this summit is that the animation industry is alive and well and there is still incredible interest in the global community. With emerging digital platforms, animation productions have increased and I think the animation industry definitely has to grow up.”

Calling the animation industry an evolving industry, MadMax said, “Evolving is a continuous process. Over the last few years the animation industry has grown or evolved in both volume and quality and it is a continuous process. I noticed that there is some kind of slowdown in terms of green-lighting the project but there have been a lot of announcements by OTTs but still they are not on the production floor. I think the energy level and excitement is high in our sector.”

Listing out of challenges and opportunities the pandemic offered to the animation industry, Jayakumar shared, “The pandemic came up with some challenges and opportunities as we all know animation is a collaborative business. People are working at the remotest part which created a lot of challenges for the delivery of the project and so on.”

He further added, “I also believe the pandemic has provided us opportunities at a global level by adapting inclusiveness, diversity which were just jargons in the past but today it is a reality. According to a study, Adult Animation is growing in India which comes with a lot of opportunities to reboot the classical animations. Thanks to the pandemic as it also developed the freelancing culture as it now gives the option to employ freelancers from any part of the work to make your project done.”

Sharing the personal takeaways from KAM summit, Chilaka said, “Lot more studios are successful and have come a long way. KAM Summit witnessed many speakers coming up to share their ideas and thoughts and there is a lot of learning taking place in creative, production, finance and business fields.”

He further added, “Running an animation company and managing creative people is quite a challenge. The studio has to be 50 per cent right brained and left brained; they have to be innovative and think out of the box and at the same time they should be able to create complex excel sheets. The creativity, storytelling came a long way in a few decades and I think we have to bring these blocks of puzzles together to create a world-class product and we are very well there to capture the global market.”

Appreciating the KAM summit’s kids panel and education perspective panel, Srinivasan added, “In the last three days I observed that KAM summit has covered every single topic. I am very much impressed with bringing kids from across the globe and talking about what content they like to watch and the education panel was very insightful.”

He further added, “I believe that we have a lot of technologies and to use that technology, all we require is skills. AVGC is trying to create a proper full round ecosystem where we can cater to the entire industry both on skill development and in production level.”

Teamwork always brings success and growth. Shetty said, “Animation industry is coming and working together to bring the industry up in means of creativity and also in technology. From KAM summit’s sessions, we found out that of course technology is there, it will be there and it will keep evolving but ideas, content and creativity is the need of the hour. Animation is growing as a wide sector and spreading into different industries like e-learning, gaming and medicine and so on. There is a huge scope in the field of animation.”

Commenting about the growth of the animation industry in the past few years, Shayan added, “Growth of the industry is an onward and upward journey across the spectrum. From Indian perspective in the last few years, industry has shown a sense of agility, adaptability and making great progress.”

He further added, “If we could foster as a community and always commit to come together and work with each other, by sharing our ideas on what will work out and not, and collaborating in business will bring in real progress. We all are into the same business but have different sets of flavours and approaches. So if we work as a team then definitely India will become a powerhouse of animation.”

Sharing his vision of making Indian animation to reach the world records, Wanvari said, “I believe when a show from India cracks into Hollywood that’s the day when India arrives, not if our shows are seen in different countries on Netflix but it has to be seen in theatres and television screens. People should approach Indian animation studios not for outsourcing but for IPs that we create.”

Talking about how to penetrate local IPs in the global market, Vogelesang said, “To get to a global audience we have to be aware of global sensibilities and there has to be the internationalisation of content. The breakthrough will come when there is a great marriage between local and international content where the content will be local but it understands the global community that is reaching out.”

Talking about co-production, Jayakumar added, “I think co-production is an important tool of growth. India always remained as a favourite destination in terms of service or commission work for foreign countries. Even though we have co-production treaties signed with 15 countries, which really has not resulted in any kind of benefit to the Indian companies. But I think if we choose the co-production opportunities carefully we can definitely add big value.”

He further added, “We need to move up the value chain and our growth should not be driven by price and arbitrage but by accepting more complex projects and investing in cutting edge technologies to differentiate ourselves from the other low-cost markets. We should focus on creating IPs with global appeal to monetize across the globe.”

Shedding light on creating global IPs, Chilaka said, “Global stories don’t need white characters; they can look like Indian or Jamaican or anything. The storytelling should be relatable and should respect the sensibilities and cultural values across the globe. In storytelling, we have to include writers from different parts of the world to bring diversity and to understand the nuances of the story work. We need to have a larger vision.”

Adding to that, Shayan said, “ When we talk about making a global content, India always got in production but the pre-production has to improvise in terms of design and story. These are the two areas which needs more improvisation and we have to encourage our Indian writers to bring in global perspective in their story.”

Talking about how the animation industry has tremendously grown in decades, Kaur expressed, “I have been pretty impressed about how much Indian animation has grown and evolved. The industry has grown tremendously in the last five years. There is a need to create more original content at a global level. Netflix is going everywhere across the world for original content. It needs to be done more effectively because there is an opportunity but we have to leverage it more.”

Suggesting to bring a universal model to help out the AVGC sector, Srinivas said, “We have an elevated program that is being supported by the government of Karnataka where we encourage startup studios to build an idea to the POC stage. We provide funds to them so that they can invest time and build up their ideas and concepts. Till now we supported about 30 animation studios in the state. I think on a larger level, the entire country has to scale up and join hands with the centre and state to build a similar model which will help many studios.”

Lastly, Chilaka said, “It is very important to understand that in order to have one successful IP you need to put 20 IPs out there, then you will get one hit IP. Chotta Bheem and Mighty Little Bheem worked out well for us and we also have many failure stories but we are not giving up and we will continue to fight it out.”

Wanvari signs off the KAM summit by thanking all the advisory members who have been the major guiding force and tireless minds behind making the KAM Summit and Ann Awards a massive success.

Games