Mumbai, May 19 (IANS) The Indian animation industry is expected to double its revenues to nearly $1.5 billion by 2010 but is still hampered by lack of skilled manpower, mainly due to lack of facilities and preference for traditional career options.
'At the close of next year, the industry will require at least 25,000 more trained hands to fill the gap and by the year 2012, the industry will have room to accommodate 300,000 professionals, if not more,' Atul Vohra, in-charge of the education division of the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), told IANS.
At present only a little over 10,000 professionals are working in this techno-creative field.
Although there are about 500 private animation-training institutes, apart from a few government-run colleges having animation curriculum, India, as of today, has only a handful of institutes teaching high-end animation techniques.
'If there was earlier an anathema towards animation among Indian students, I would rather blame their parents and guardians for it. Because, until recently, the elders in this country had a misconception that animation was all about drawing cartoon figures and so they felt there were no career prospects in this field. They never encouraged their wards to take up animation as a professional course,' Vohra pointed out.
The Arena, the animation division of APTECH, is the oldest of the lot in imparting animation training and it also has a variety of high-end training courses, while the six-year-old MAAC specializes on imparting training in 2-D and 3-D animation.
There are now about 100,000 students, who are now undergoing training in animation, VFX and gaming in different parts of the country. When the first batch comes out next year, they may fill the gap to a certain extent, but the want of skilled professionals is still the bane for the development of the animation industry.
According to Ronand D'Mello, managing director of Maya Entertainment Limited, the parent company of MAAC, the lack of animation training institutes in India is the chief reason why the misconceptions about animation among the elders in India persisted.
'When the IT boom started in India about 15 years ago, they rightly saw a bright future for their children in the IT industry. But they were not as much enthusiastic to push their children to take up animation as a course for full-time study even though it was largely an offshoot of the burgeoning electronics industry. This is one of the main reasons why there is a big manpower shortage in the Indian animation industry today,' D'Mello informed.
It is with a view to generating interest in animation among the younger generation of the country that MAAC has now signed a tie-up deal with Mumbai-based Toon Club, a division of Climb Media, which specialises in imparting the basic animation training to the children.
Their joint venture, MAAC-Junior Toon Club, will get off the ground in Mumbai later this month.
'The venture is not aimed at giving full-time animation training to children. Our objective is to generate curiosity and interest among them about what animation actually is, so that when they grow up they would have had the basic knowledge about the field to pursue higher courses in it. The basic concept is to give their creativity a fillip with definite direction at an early age,' Vohra explained.
MAAC already has over 30,000 students undergoing training in animation in its 60 centres in India, Nepal and the Middle East in 3D animation and visual effects.
Similarly, Toon Club's courses are also designed along international lines. It recently received the Award for Excellence - Special Jury Recognition for children Animation by ASIFA.
Despite manpower shortage, the Indian animation industry has made giant strides of late and the country has become the outsourcing hub for many western animation studios as well as for Hollywood.
'Though we are creatively superior to many other countries, we have still lagged behind in the technical aspects of the animation industry. While in many European countries and also in Singapore and Malaysia, animation training is being given at the school level, it is still not included in our school curricula. But next to IT, animation is going to be the next big thing in India in the next five years. We had better prepare our children to reap the benefits,' said Vohra.