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Looking alive

Looking alive

The animation industry is in good shape and hiring in a big way.

The past four months have been the busiest in a long time for the placement cells of the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), the Aptechpromoted leading provider of high-end 3D animation and visual effects education. Already, more students have been picked up by the animation industry during the first six months of the financial year 2010-11 than in the whole of the previous year. "June onwards has been phenomenal. The demand for talent is growing at a fast pace," says Ram Warrier, Business Head of MAAC.

But what is contributing to this uptick in demand? The IT industry lobby NASSCOM expects the animation industry to report a compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 22 per cent to reach $1 billion by 2012 from $494 million in 2008. Globally, the industry is projected to grow at a 10 per cent CAGR to $100 billion by 2012 from $68 billion in 2008. Also, by 2012, custom content development and multimedia along with web design and visual effects are expected to remain the largest segments followed by animation entertainment.

In the wake of the recession, companies in the West have actively begun looking at destinations like India to develop animation content at a fraction of the cost back home. As a result, for instance, Hyderabad-based Technicolor, which started operations early this year, has already increased its headcount to a 100, says Warrier. Besides, as NASSCOM points out, many in the industry have moved from a pure offshore model to a co-production model, in which the Indian studio provides manpower and infrastructure and the international producer marketing and distribution.

An example is Prime Focus, an endto-end techno-creative services provider that has, among others, collaborated in the making of Hollywood films such as Clash of the Titans and, more recently, Cats & Dogs 2. Prime Focus has hired nearly 700 people in the last six months, taking its headcount to 2,000.

The bulk of the recent recruitments was meant for its Indian operations at the entry level. It also has operations in Canada, the United States and Britain.

"Another scale-up is in the offing in the next six months. This time we plan to hire another 600," says Merzin Tavaria, Founder and Chief Creative Director of Prime Focus, adding: "The visual effects talent is in focus. Most openings are for creative roles." However, employability of recruits remains a challenge for players. "You need to tap talent and train them," says Tavaria.

Since the sector is still in its infancy with the attendant dearth of talent, most players are also recruiting laterally from sectors such as software services and technology.

-Saumya Bhattacharya