What takes to build a 100 billion dollar industry? VFX experts weigh in

Day one of the VAM Summit 2022 had a very engaging panel discussing ‘Building a 100 billion dollar industry.’ The eminent speakers were: Framestone India MD Akhauri Sinha, M2Animation head of studio Marty Knox, Outpost VFX GM Syamantak Thakur, Contiloe group CFO and Illusion Reality Studioz CEO Nitin Dadoo, and BOT VFX CEO and co-founder Hitesh Shah. The session was moderated by AnimationXpress founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

The panel discussed what has aided the growth of the VFX industry on a global level, how the Indian VFX and animation policy is going to benefit the industry and empower them to chart the billion dollar story, what are the future possibilities and more.

The Indian VFX industry is growing manifold and Knox started the segment by commenting on what made him choose the country for work. He shared, “What attracted us to India is that there is huge man-talent of artists, organizers, and technology here. The CG-industry is 20-30 years strong now and I’ve personally been connected for 10 years working with Indian companies. There is an enormous amount of talent.”

There is no denying the fact that Indian VFX artists have earned a reputation for their stellar work on international projects. With reduced costs and access to improved skills, Indian markets have become a staple for studios overseas who wish to farm out their visual effects and creative assignments. 

Speaking about the issues the VFX studios face that is stopping them from becoming a mammoth company, Shah added, “One of the struggles that I face in my studio is getting senior talent that has a seasoned experience in the VFX space; it is quite hard. It is relatively scarce despite having a large volume of talented people. This is one problem that would unleash the potential for growth in India.”

Agreeing on the same, Thakur expressed that it’s not the amount of work that’s a challenge, but to get senior talent on-board is the real challenge. Getting more work would be the easier part if you have your team in place. Having people to mentor and guide the younger talents is a proven way of getting up there quickly.” To that Daddo added, “We need to train the trainers to take the Indian VFX scene a notch higher and that’s why we have come up with courses where the curriculum is updated monthly. We are appointing senior people to mentor young talent and upgrade their skills. So, partnering with universities is what should be done.”

With the growing rise in OTT and digital platforms, Indian content is drawing more eyeballs and competing with content across the globe. This has given a boost to the demand for new projects and artistic talent. India has been a sought-after outsourcing destination for western industries for over decades now. As global partnerships increase, so do the presence and penetration of foreign entities in domestic markets. This is benefitting the Indian VFX companies, leading to the rapid increase in homegrown stories, domestic content and market.

Technology has played its part very well and the world today is digitized to an extent as never before. Over the past couple of years, the digital media industry has experienced unparalleled growth. Technology development has increased VFX implementation in all kinds of media. With films, television, and video games making excellent use of the ever-changing VFX technologies, the market is soon going to be transformed to a whole new level. Adding to this, Sinha expressed, “The basic kind of VFX that was done earlier, it won’t be wrong to say that today you are empowering filmmakers to tell different kinds of stories. We are a derived industry and the filmmakers are no longer limited by their imagination.”

Global consumers are displaying a growing appetite for engaging, high-definition visual experiences. Movie-goers are demanding high-quality productions with engaging visual effects, realistic animation and content creators are including more animation and VFX shots into films. The panelists shared that we need to look for senior talent, fill the pre-production gap, excel at what we are doing like get to work on full sequences/shots, existing studios should expand the scope of production they are doing and possibly start investing in production and with international studios setting their shops here more work can come in. Well, the recipe for building a 100 billion dollar industry requires too many ingredients, but the Indian VFX industry is on the right path and moving swiftly for sure.