Animation content with heavy-duty VFX is slowly becoming the flavour of the season. Viewers are appreciating striking visuals and this has opened windows to many avenues. Milind Shinde, Founder & CEO of 88 Pictures - one of the top India-based Animation and Media Entertainment companies, talked to Zee News about the scope of animation and its future.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q Tell us about 88 Pictures and what it specialises in…
A: 88 Pictures is a top animation company based in Mumbai. We specialize in high-end 3D animation content with artistic values and technological innovations. We work with VFX and also have the know-how of AR/VR. We have developed some AI tools to be used in certain sectors of our workflow. But, we mainly do animation with a focus on high-value chain work and have grown the service line and secured our high-content business.
The kind of projects we handle and the contents we produce are unique in itself that pushes the creative and technical boundaries. Our work speaks for itself— or word of mouth goes around—and I guess that’s why our clients always trust us with repeat business.
Q. You have big-budget animation blockbusters, like Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda-3 to your credit. What’s the plan ahead?
A: We aspire to make 88 Pictures a homegrown brand that has sprouted organically and will grow to into a global brand in the future. To begin with, we wanted to make it a top company in India that offers high-value creative content which we are on the track to do so. The next plan is to do reverse integration—as an Indian company, to get enter the global market to make it a global brand. The vision 2025 is to become one of the Top 10 boutique studios in the world that are go-to studios for filmmakers who have a larger-than-life vision of content.
The initial plan was to stay relevant in the animation space by continuously trying to get on the right side of the content, which is either to produce—or get our hands on to—really high-end projects or creatively challenging projects. While doing that, we also wanted to stay on the right side of technology with the technology continuously evolving, because, at the end of the day, although it is a creative art, there is a tech component at the core. We are trying to do that and develop a value, or brand awareness, where people know these people do this kind of work. And we have been successful in carving out a niche for ourselves.
As I said earlier, other than 3D animation, we have a small arm that handles VFX work and this work has already started. Besides, we are developing some unique ideas for games, and plan to enter the gaming sector soon. Probably, towards the end-2021 or early 2022, we will launch our first game.
There are two prototypes that are being developed—mobile gaming and console gaming. We are simply bursting with ideas based around India, or Indian content, but will possibly have a global appeal. Our TG will be the Indian audience, but we feel that the content will be able to travel globally.
Q. How is animation blossoming as a visual medium in India?
A: The animation industry in India is a niche market. Traditionally, Indian animation is all about service work. The top two reasons why the work comes to India is because of the vast talent pool and the economic, or cost, advantage. So, the main animation service here is ‘work for hire’. A lot of mid to lower-end work comes to India, while the bigger multimillion-dollar projects don’t.
But the industry will grow because of the vast talent pool and a lot of international studios trying to set up a presence in India. And, with the work from home (WFH) scenario, suddenly, everybody has access to everywhere. So, it will grow. But I don’t know if it will be healthy growth, because, suddenly, you are competing with the same talent. If you give him X, while he is getting 3X from outside, it would have an impact on the way business is done. Covid has changed all the parameters and we’ll have to see what happens in the next couple of years.
Q. Any special plans for India in terms of collaborations or studio setup?
A: 88 Pictures is based in Mumbai with a second branch we started during the pandemic in Bengaluru. At the moment, we do not have plans for any tie-ups here. But we do plan to go international in the near future with our studio so that it becomes an international studio created by an Indian group of people.
Q. What are your future projects?
A: We have a very interesting line of work slated for the next 3 years already and we are unable to talk about it openly until they are announced. We are trying to leverage our expertise in the service line and create some interesting IPs. These are Indian stories we can possibly tell the global audience with global sentiments. We have a kind of a ‘local for global’ concept and we are working on that. I think, in the next year or so, we should see something come to life.