When I take my son to see his first movie in a real movie theater next month, it’ll be entirely distracting for me to know that it was created by a company in India that was hired by NBC Universal, which outsourced the animation. Curious George — that’s right! The little monkey who lives with the man in the yellow hat — comes from the drawing tables of DQ Entertainment in Hyderabad.
According to print coverage in the Jan. 23, 2006 issue of Red Herring, DQ is just one of a hundred — a hundred! — companies in India that are providing animation services to US brands such as Disney, Pixar, Mattel and the Cartoon Network. Reports, “Tom & Jerry Ride a Rickshaw,” an industry that generated about $300 million in 2004 was expected by Arthur Anderson to touch the billion-five dollar mark in 2005.
What’s especially interesting is that the Indian studios producing the drawings are going through the same growth path that BPO and IT services companies are undergoing. While they’re providing budget work now to prove their chops and earn the trust of clients, they’re also striving for the opportunity to create and distribute original content. (In fact, the article says, DQ has set up its own production company, Power Kidz, in Mumbai to handle distribution of titles in south Asia.) Of course, one problem is creating characters that are addictive. So far, the Indian animators appear hung up on creating “primarily Indian mythological characters, which have limited appeal.” (That said, the first full-scale animated movie created in India, Hanuman, was a box office hit last year — in India.)
That isn’t to say the work being done by Indian firms is strictly being handled by India-based workers. DQ is constantly expanding its global presence by setting up shop in other parts of India, as well as China and the Philippines.
Another Red Herring article, which is online, quotes NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik, as saying the country will need 30,000 animators by 2009 to keep up with projected growth. No doubt, Indian training schools will materialize to bring those future storyboards to seeming life.
My son won’t care where the movies come from. After all, the consumption of Junior Mints will never be outsourced.