KAM Summit ’21 Day 1 witnessed talks about kids’ consumption patters, co-productions, technological advancements and more!

The Day 1 of Kids Animation and More (KAM) Summit’s second edition witnessed power packed sessions that shed light on various aspects of the animation and the kids ecosystem.

KAM Summit is presented by Nick and is co-powered by Cosmos-Maya, Unreal-Engine and Discovery Kids. YOTTA serves as the workstation and OTT service partner whereas Green Gold Animation is the summit partner. ABAI promoting Centre of Excellence – COE are the associate partners and the event is supported by IN10 Media (GUBBARE) and HUION. Digicon6 Asia is the festival partner and ASIFA India serves as the community partner.

The day commenced with fireside chat between Polygon Pictures president and CEO Shuzo John Shiota and  AnimationXpress founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari. He shared how the idea of animation popped up when they decided to tell stories through visuals in animation format. He said, “Other than telling stories to kids, it can be told through animation. That was the case in Japan since late 1980s and now is gradually becoming an international trend as well.”

It is one of the oldest and most recognized computer graphics studios in Japan and it was quite interesting to know the facts of their operations. He revealed that organizationally they have a team of 300 people in Japan studios and 100 in Malaysia. Normally the team works on 20 projects simultaneously which includes series, movies and so on.

He further showed interest to expand in India as well. He shared, “We have been working with India for so long because of the monstrous amount of talent present there and also in our Tokyo office. In fact, out of the 15 per cent of employees from different countries, India takes the larger chunk of the pie because of the talents present in them. We continue to find partners in India and we are aiming to set up institution in India as well for specific functions of our production.”

Overall fireside chat was quite insightful as it highlighted various aspects including the impact of pandemic, evolution in content production and so on.

Following the fireside chat, Kantar senior executive director Puneet Avasthi shared insights on “Decoding the digital native kid”.

He spoke about how children have become an important consideration for marketers when they plan promotions for products/services meant for family consumption. Marketers are now weighing in on buying decisions on products and services beyond those meant for children.

He also mentioned that the children are probably more tech-savvy than most of the other members of the house, hence a larger influence. He further shared how kids highly influence food buying as well as what they eat, followed by household items and kids’ products. Parents allow the kids to dictate their media consumption and more than a third of TV viewing kids buy the product seen in the ad, if they like the ad.

The next session was the panel discussion on “The Future of animation using Unreal Engine”. The panel included industry stalwarts like Toonz Animation CEO P Jayakumar, Gametronics technical director Vishnumurthy A, Charuvi Design founder Charuvi Agarwal, 88 pictures Milind Shinde who shared the experiences and challenges they face while working with Unreal.

While Agarwal highlighted how Unreal Engine is leading to a lot of creativity and freedom to the creative community, Jayakumar brought in the point of the constant pressure being faced by studios to do the work faster, cheaper and better which can be effectively done with the help of real-time technology.

Speakers also said that game engines like Unreal have brought revolutionary change to the animation production pipeline especially in real-time rendering.

Milind Shinde said that we are living in a great time where everything at the core is at ease with technology. What the Unreal Engine is doing is epic and the amount of tools and flexibility it is offering for filmmakers is huge. Vishnumurthy spoke about how Unreal evolved over the years and how they came up with automated tools to make the animation production easier.

The speakers also gave their perspectives and list of improvements to be implemented in Unreal for the betterment of animation production.

Moving on to the next session was a presentation by Yotta Infrastructure DGM product and services Sandeep Pathak on “The dawn of virtual workstations in movie-making”.

Due to the work from home situation, bringing heavy workstations home or to all the remote locations during the current scenario is not a feasible option. There are major concerns like hardware challenges, data security, repairs & maintenance, and project delays. Pathak threw light on how Yotta has got a solution to overcome these challenges without burning a big whole in your pockets.

One can create their blockbuster masterpiece and breakthrough without buying traditional and expensive desktop workstations. He mentioned that Value Pro Workstation from Yotta is engineered for demanding applications, graphics & media, architecture, construction, AI, deep learning, engineering, design and much more, and is powered by one of the world’s most powerful graphics cards.

You get extreme performance without incurring high costs and a superior experience better than a physical workstation. He concluded by saying how as soon as a person logs off, the entire data is cleaned automatically, letting the next user work on a blank slate. It is tried and tested on all heavy-duty software, including Maya, so be rest assured to have a seamless experience.

The next session was a fireside chat between Viacom18 head – creative, content and research, Kids TV Network Anu Sikka and Cosmos Maya SVP revenue and corporate strategy Devdatta Potnis on “What will trigger the next growth phase of Indian animation in India and beyond?” The experts have shared insights on how they can spruce up animation content tapping the right audience and how important it is for studios to explore the preschool category which is quite niche as far as the Indian Animation ecosystem is concerned.

Highlighting the fact that there are very less content available in the Indian market for the preschool audience, Sikka shared, “Preschool, which is such a powerful category world over, in India, we haven’t touched nor experimented with it so far. There is one show which has been a success made by Green Gold which has opened the doors for studios and broadcasters. The advertisers need to understand and recognize the potential of that particular category.”

Adding to that Potnis also highlighted, “Motu Patlu has done phenomenally. We are in the 10th year of Motu Patlu and we are developing something in the preschool category space, which talks about Indianness, simple stories and so on. We are also going to launch comics.”

Following that, “Charting the success story – Kids Channels” session shed light on the success story and challenges of broadcasting channel and the way ahead. The panel consisted of eminent channel heads including  Sony YAY! head – programming Ronojoy Chakraborty, Discovery Kids head Uttam Pal Singh, Cartoon Network & POGO, South Asia network head Abhishek Dutta and SunTV’s Chutti TV Channel head Vidhyalakshmi T A and the session was moderated by industry veteran Manoj Mishra.

Mishra began the panel discussion with a warm keynote on how local contents are being developed and how they are performing successfully. Chakraborty shed light on the kid’s consumption patterns which changed during the pandemic and how Sony YAY! managed to come up with original productions, new genres and programs.

Singh threw light on how the pandemic has created an opportunity and how the channel caters to the demands created in the kids’ genre by giving a variety of content and scaling up of IPs and how the last 18 months have been for them. Vidhyalakshmi shared her experience and success story of Chutti TV, and how they manage to entertain the regional audience with both local and international contents.

The speakers also spoke about how Linear TV and OTT compliment each other.

It was time for the keynote session by Mikros Animation president Andrea Miloro with Technicolor country head Biren Ghose on ‘What’s the next BIG RISE in global animation’ and how India can maximise the opportunity that the global animation industry provides in entertainment storytelling. She shared how important is it for studios to stay motivated as animation works go on for a prolonged period of time.

She further emphasized on how animation collaborations are long collaborations and it opens up the opportunities to collaborate on a vast scale on various projects. Miloro shared, “I see shifts in global animation in a couple of different parts. Animation more than any other form of content creation is a very long collaboration, so you partner. When you partner you have the opportunity to partner with global companies like Mikros Animation and thus you get the opportunity to work at different locations. I don’t think projects are done in one location anymore as the reach is around the world, that allows us to bring more and more top talents.”

Moving on our next panel which was on ‘Animation Beyond Kids’ with speakers – Ghost Animation & Otter Studios co-founder Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Blink Pictures director/producer Indrajit Nattoji, Tavrohi Animations and Script to Screen Films CEO Colonel Rohit Kataria (Retd), animation filmmaker Debjyoti Saha. The session was moderated by Climb Media founder and director Kireet Khurana.

There is a lack of acceptance for animated content aimed at adults which restricts the streaming of animated content on OTT and digital media platforms. The session tried to bring in the perspective on what are the reasons behind animation being considered as a kids medium and how can we break this perception.

As said by Rohit Kataria, “Animation is primarily considered for kids because of our perception. But, I feel adults love animation as much as kids do. We only have to present it in that manner. Adult animation has a place. It’s coming of age and it should not be always considered crass or edgy.”

In the next panel “Co-Production: Not a distant dream anymore, Toonz Media Group CEO P Jayakumar, Assemblage Entertainment founder and CEO AK Madhavan (MadMax), Punnaryug Artvision founder & FICCI chairman of AVGC Forum Ashish Kulkarni, Telegael CEO Paul Cummins, and Cosmos-Maya business development consultant Joris Eckelkamp discussed how co-production has been a lucrative opening for the sector and what is the way ahead. The session was moderated by Zebu Animation CEO Adi Shayan.

The panel focused on answering various questions like how content production is changing and what are the key points to keep in mind while selecting or choosing your partner and how financing is playing a major role for co-production in India.

The panel members also highlighted different models of co-production. Kulkarni shared that the Japanese model is most effective model of co-production, how it works and has been successfully implemented in Japan for the past 40 years.

Each panelist shared their experiences and challenges faced by them in co-production. Madmax coined co-production as an adventure and Jayakumar termed co-production as a puzzle game of finding a suitable partner.

Paul has shared his 30 years of experience in the television, animation and film industries where he worked on more than 100 co-production projects. Eckelkamp called co-production as a vision or idea about how to structure your business and added key points like how communication plays an important role in co-production.

We had a presentation by Epic Games business development manager Rob Di Figlia on “Real-time Animation using Unreal Engine”.

Figlia showcased how animation production is easily and effectively done through Unreal Engine.

He said, “Unreal is so much more than a lighting and rendering tool. Keyframe animation is hugely important to Epic and they are highly focused on making things easier for animation.”

He differentiated between the traditional animation production pipeline and Virtual production pipeline.

He said that in a typical animation, the pipeline is very linear and we spend tons of time in storyboarding and it becomes expensive to undo the changes. But Unreal changed the traditional method. It made creative process more immersive and gave the freedom to explore the creativity

Lastly he shared a promo video of Epic’s recent innovation MetaHuman Creator which will release later this year. It is a tool that enables you to quickly and easily create unique highly realistic digital humans. 

The last session of the day was ‘New Age of Animation Production. During this session, leaders from the technology space including Autodesk India & SAARC technical solutions manager – M&E Samit Shetty, Adobe sales lead – 3D&Immersive India Sharrom Yezdegardi, production technology veteran VK Gupta, Scan 360 Studios partner Hans M Van der Sluys,  Zebu Animation founder and director Viren Patil were seen sharing their viewpoints and solutions to expedite workflows and cutdown costs while keeping a high bar for quality and creativity and what are the new innovations being offered by the software companies. The session was moderated by AVGC Centre of Excellence, Karnataka and ABAI secretary BS Srinivas.

“New age production is very demanding. In the last one or two years, the consumption of animation has doubled. So, in order to achieve it, a lot of companies are collaborating to get things done faster. New age production doesn’t only mean saving time, it also means saving money. You no longer have to invest in multiple tools and plugins,” said Samit Shetty.

The audience has become more judicious. They are expecting more high-quality content and the evolution of technology is playing a big role. Technology is slowly evolving to a point where it’s beginning to become invisible, which is fantastic. And the fact that technology is evolving so much is awesome,” added Viren Patil.

Overall the Day 1 of KAM Summit was quite filled with experts’ insights. Stay tuned for Day 2!

You can watch the Day 1 sessions here :