Out Of India: The Humbling Desire Of Wanting The World
Thirty-three years ago, a Sheridan College student John Minnis created the short animation piece Charade. The five-minute film was animated by Minnis with Pantone markers on paper during a single three-month summer term at Sheridan College. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 57th Academy Awards.
This no doubt brought a significant limelight on the college, at one point in 1996; it was even called "the Harvard of animation schools" on "a worldwide basis" by animator Michael Hirsh. The walls surrounding this rather unassuming building saw a significant number of graduates go on to hold key positions at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Don Bluth Productions, Pixar Animation Studios, and DreamWorks Animation, both for traditional and CGI animation.
After Minnis, Sheridan graduates today include five Academy Award nominees and two winners, and in 2005, animation professor Kaj Pindal won an Emmy Award.
Somewhere between Hirsh and Pindal, a young Indian dreamer went through its doors and ended up working for Mercury Films upon graduation, eventually making his way to Senior Animator, working on shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Kick Buttowski, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Wander Over Yonder, and Mickey Mouse shorts, among many other oeuvres a majority of us grew up watching.
Replenishing the Brain Drain
After a 3-year experience at Mercury Films, Sangram Borse heard the call within; it was time to return to his birth land and seek his fortune on native soil.
“It was the correct time,” said Sangram. “I left and took all the knowledge back with me.”
Since his return, Sangram revelled in 4 years of training local artists. Today, as Founder and CEO of Regh Animation and Design, as well as Animportal, Sangram proudly boasts a team of 40 outstanding artists “who can create the quality of 2D digital Animation that is on par with international standards”.
“And we have proved it by the list of clients and the shows we have worked on over the past 4 years,” Sangram continued. “This is what is needed in India; someone taking the initiative to bring about change.”
Founder & CEO
Regh Animation and Design l Animportal
Making It Count
For Sangram, 3D Animation in India is, and has been for a while now, on par with international standards. Feature films such as Kung Fu Panda 3, Puss in Boots, Trolls, and Baby Boss, along with live action films like Spiderman, as well as shorts like OddBot are but a few works the Indian animation industry is proud of.
No doubt, the industry has been making a mark that matters. “But we face a major problem with our 2D Animation,” Sangram noted with a contained frustration he hasn’t yet decided where to place.
Despite some hugely successful series such as Chhota Bheem, and a hand full of others, Sangram deems they still fail to make an impact on the international market.
“Indian 2D Animation is stuck in a vicious circle,” verbalized Sangram. “The lack of appropriate education and false advertising of what animation truly is, over the last decade, has left the Indian 2D Animator unsatisfied. As a result, low quality animation is produced.
“Hence, investors will not pour money in because of the lack of quality and professionalism. Therefore, Indian 2D Animation has miles to go before they can be ready for the international market.”
Over the last 3 years, Regh Animation and Design has worked directly with world-renowned studios like Big Jump Productions, Six Point Harness, Laymen Ministries, and Graphic India to name a few.
It took a single animation test to make them believe in Regh’s work and the quality that they could produce. Once they were sold on Regh, there was no going back.
And like Regh, many Indian animation studios are working with international studios and reputation in general is definitely improving. However, Sangram believes its improvement rate doesn’t make the cut, especially in terms of quality.
“International studios are eagerly waiting to work with studios in India, but we need to prove ourselves to them to get them to invest in our country.”
Going from being service providers to IP owners, iNSiGHTS magazine asked Sangram, can Indian storytelling, standards, feel and concepts be enough to go up against the likes of western offering, dollar for dollar?
For Sangram, the answer is yes, albeit only from a handful.
“The latest series of Lamput – created by Vaibhav Studios – was picked up by the Cartoon Network, and has been one of the best examples of an Indian studio having universal approach.
“For sure, Indian artists and companies definitely have the potential of creating universally accepted IPs. But creating IPs involves a lot of financial risk. Thus, the reality of it is that not everyone in this industry has the leverage to create IPs on their own terms.
“We need clearer and more transparent relationships with the networks to understand and meet their demands. And most importantly, we need to expand our horizons to networks outside of India. And for that, we need to expand our horizons on topics that are more universally appealing.
“At the present moment, even though we have a lot of talent, we still need to work towards getting our foot in the international market,” Sangram ardently proclaims. “And I believe that day is not far.”
Indians for India & Beyond
With the team from ATF in Pune, India (2017)
“I think ATF is definitely the place to be for aspiring IP owners and international service providers to meet and interact with the appropriate people. To make something unique, we need to start somewhere to get recognized, and ATF is definitely that perfect stepping stone for the same.
“India has a big Animation industry. International studios are waiting to dip their fingers into this industry. India has a great history and tradition. Our ethnicity is something we can definitely cash out on. All we need to have is an expansion of our horizons and look at the bigger picture.
“We have the strength and ability to defy the standing of India being a place where studios can get animation done at a cheaper rate. We have the strength and ability to make ourselves a competitor in the race for creating content that is on par with global benchmarks.”
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