The Animation Industry in Kerala – Rise & Fall
The Animation Industry in India has been through a journey of its own. It was in the late 1990s that all over India, young artists and caricaturists found a new calling. Along with the IT boom and the opening up of the market, there were clients across the seas. This was a great time for the Animation Industry.
Kerala was bang in the middle of this rise. In the early 2000s, Kerala saw the establishment of Toonz Animations inside the Technopark campus. Immediately, this attracted a host of gifted artists, especially graduates from the several art colleges in the State. Afterall, the exposure and the salaries were hitherto unheard of. Moreover, there were collaborations between Indian artists and those from abroad. The space was buzzing with creativity, new ideas and a merging of different art techniques that indeed created outstanding work.
But Toonz Animation wasn’t the only one. There were several across the State of Kerala. Each outsourced projects from abroad. As larger animation studios got higher workload, these contracted smaller ones to handle projects in bits and parts. What was happening is a giant assimilation. A coming together of wonderfully artistic minds. Prominent set ups were Digital Carving, Animation Dimension, Nest Animation and so many more!
But then, a sudden downfall happened and one by one, animation studios starting shutting down. Leaving many without jobs and more importantly with a niche set of skills that no longer were wanted.
The problem that no one had foreseen was the size of the market. Mostly abroad and abysmally small, with the internet taking over thereby moving away business from CD and DVD matter, the market shrunk even more. Financial resources were constrained. And in Kerala, while there is and always has been an abundance of talent, the attitude towards the sector locally became an issue. Local work could not happen because the clients did not seem to honour the painstaking work put in by the artists. It was not understood by the investors either, who did not know the technical aspects and did not find it a worthwhile industry to invest in.
The quality of work suffered and what could have been a booming industry, lapsed. The artists who could leave, left abroad. And today, it is astonishing, how numerous the best animation studios are run by Indian artists, many from Kerala.
But all is not lost in Kerala. Malyalam films like Neram, Om Shanti Oshana, Pullipulikalum, Attinkuttiyum give great hope. Internet advertisements are another area where animation is coming up. While both 2D and 3D animation is undertaken in several studios in the State, 2D animation is finding new markets for cartoons for children that depict traditional Malyalam folk tales.
Some of the series which began earlier on, when the market was booming, have indeed survived. Case in point being CDs produced from the house of Malayala Manorama such as Manhchadi, Mayavi,Poopy, Kilukkampettiand and so on.
What still plagues the industry however, is the low margin of profits, lack of understanding of the efforts that go in to create even a single frame, the slow paced recovery of revenue and the major issue of piracy.
But Kerala with its talented artists and some classy animation studios is still where animation requests go to from film projects in both neighbouring States and abroad.
Source : Manorama; Image Courtesy : loadion.com