In barely a few years, Bengaluru has seen a spurt in the number of animation studios based in the city. The number of studios has gone up from just a handful less than a decade ago to nearly 50 today, say industry experts.
A 2015 National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) study on the gaming industry places Bengaluru top, above Mumbai, in terms of the number of game developers and service providers. This is a great improvement considering that a decade ago, the city was not counted among the top five cities in the animation field, said Bhiren Ghose, president of the Association for Bangalore Animation Industry (ABAI). Anywhere between 4,000 and 4,500 people currently work in the animation and gaming industry in Bengaluru, he added.
Big names in the industry, along with animation studios and institutes based out of Bengaluru, were part of the two-day Karnataka Animation, VFX Gaming and Comics summit which took place in the city this weekend.
The event was organised by ABAI with support from the Karnataka government, which launched an exclusive policy for gaming and animation back in 2012.
The Jungle Book effect
Computer generated imaging (CGI) for several major motion pictures has been done in the city, including for films like The Jungle Book, Puss in Boots and Madagascar.
“People have started to think that you no longer need to move to Los Angeles to do great CGI work, you can start out right in Bengaluru,” said Prashanth Kutwan, manager of a private animation studio in the city.
However, India lags behind in animation where its films are nowhere as popular at the box office as their international counterparts.
Avneet Kaur, character technical director for Walt Disney Animation Studios, said that she was happy by the enthusiasm for animation in the city.
Prasad Sutar, creative director for NY VFXWala, which worked on the Sanjay Leela Bhansali blockbuster Bajirao Mastani, said there was little scope for preproduction while working with Mr. Bhansali.
“Matching the outdoors of Rajasthan to the studio lighting in Mumbai proved a bigger challenge than the major CGI work,” said Mr. Sutar.
Give the audience what they want, says Farmville creator
Did you know that the maker of The Battle of The Middle Earth, a dark fantasy strategy game based on the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was also the brains behind Farmville?
Mark Skaggs, director of Moonfrogs Labs, had a lesson and two for animation students at ABAIFest 2016, which started in the city on Saturday.
“I try to make something that makes people happy,” said Mark. “People see a movie, love the battles and graphics, and wonder if they can play it on their PC, which has much lower capabilities.”
What the gamers did was to trick their audience through clever programming, such as using a game map based on the Middle Earth map in the movie.
For Farmville, because their target audience (women between 35 and 50) was different, the team focused on simplicity and kept the animations light and colourful.
It was a case of “giving the audience what they want,” said Mr. Skaggs, “We had people on the team who were proxies for players, so they could gauge their audiences interests.”
Farmville raced to the top of popularity charts when it was launched in 2009, but has since fallen behind to newer games.