KAM Summit ’21 | Polygon Pictures president and CEO Shuzo John Shiota reveals the key to higher productivity

The second edition of KAM Summit 2021, Day 1, kicked off with a fireside chat with Polygon Pictures president and CEO Shuzo John Shiota with AnimationXpress founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari. The fireside chat has highlighted various aspects including pandemic impact, evolution in content production, increase in productivity and so on.

Hollywood has communicated with the world that animation can tell more sophisticated stories and can have varieties of styles. Shuzo poured light on how the animation culture developed in Japan. He mentioned that storytelling is an art and children enjoy listening to stories, and the traditional way of storytelling was by word-of-mouth. The idea of animation popped when they decided to tell stories through visuals in animation format. He added, “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 true that around the world the pandemic has shifted the entire ecosystem with new set of challenges. Undeniably, sometimes the solution of these challenges gives rise to new trend that the industry has adapted. Tapping on the animation industry’s key trends observed during the pandemic, Shiota shared, “Because of the pandemic, the live shoots couldn’t be conducted. We at the digital animation field had been able to work remotely and pretty efficiently. We were able to show our resiliency in the production and the execution of ideas even in situation like this which has been source of convenience for many producers. There are ideas which were previously executed only in live action scheme and are now trended towards animation.”

There are few drawbacks in operating remotely but the ecosystem has adapted it. He further highlighted the fact that the rise of the streaming platform also gave rise to market for the content vastly. “There are enough places to market the product now,” he expressed.

They have been working with various partners around the world and with India they started in 2006. He shared, “Compared to 20 years ago, Indian creation economy wasn’t as huge as it is currently. It is always really dynamic and to scale up, we need to keep asking ourselves ‘are we living up to our principles?’”

Evolution is the movement of life and there is no exception for the animated content production as well. It is very crucial to deliver content as per the expectation of the audience. We need to stay up to date with current happenings so that it reflects in our work. Shiota highlighted, “Humans are changing, human relations are changing, so it is necessary for the company to grow. And it is constantly shifting. If we don’t, then it is boring. That’s why we always bring up projects which are new and are exciting. Therefore, in order to entertain our people, we need to stick to the fundamentals and continue evolving.”

Polygon also projected a show reel of their work which included various styles of animation. Sharing the insights on the different styles they have incorporated in their production pipeline. He expressed that its part of their personality that they get bored of something very easily and because of which they involve into different things, styles and that is what keeps them going. Organizationally they have a team of 300 people in Japan studios and 100 in Malaysia. Normally 20 projects goes on simultaneously which includes series, movies and so on.

Showing 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 the session was quite insightful as he shed light on various styles and facets of animation and how they are constantly evolving to bring something new to the audience following the path of dynamic value of life.