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India's Leading Source for Broadcasting & Broadband Information - CableQuest Magazine
HomeInterviewsThe time for animation has never been better

The time for animation has never been better

Oct 01, 2006
P. Jayakumar P. Jayakumar
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P. Jayakumar is the Chief Executive Officer of Toonz Animation India Pvt. Ltd. A founding team member of Toonz, Jayakumar is leading the company as it charts a steady growth and makes a major foray into the global animation market.

Previously, as Chief Operating Officer of Toonz, Mr. Jayakumar was in charge of studio operations in Trivandrum and Mumbai. He is the Co-Executive Producer of a groundbreaking 52 episode television series for Hallmark Entertainment. He is also the Co-Executive Producer of a prestigious television project for Paramount Pictures. Mr. Jayakumar’s stint at the helm of South Asia’s largest animation studio has been marked by an important shift in strategy, resulting in several landmark coproduction deals with entertainment majors in the US and Europe. Under his leadership the studio has embarked on developing a library of original properties for the global market, a radical step for an Indian studio.

Mr. Jayakumar is a member of the prestigious International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Academy is the largest organization of global broadcasters and conducts the International Emmy awards gala every year. Mr. Jayakumar is a member of the entertainment Committee of FICCI, leading confederation of business organizations in India. He is also a member of the Entertainment Industry Leader’s Council of ASSOCHAM. He is the Treasurer of ASIFA India, the Indian chapter of the premier body for animation professionals across the world.

Prior to joining Toonz, Mr. Jayakumar has served as Finance Officer in Dutch-Danish supported programme under the Kerala Water Authority, a State Government body. He was also financial consultant to various national and international organizations like the Aga Khan Foundation and also to various missions connected with UNICEF, UNDP/World Bank etc. Besides this, he has served as a training coordinator in UNICEF projects in Kerala.

 

CQ. Do you think that the Indian market is well–equipped in terms of professionals and technology to face the challenges in the animation industry?

P.J. Slowly, but surely, we are moving in a direction when we will be able to achieve that. The caliber of professionals working in animation studios across the country has registered a quantum improvement in terms of quality output and productivity. As far as technology is concerned, though we may not be leading the way in developing graphics software, we are still making the best of the situation. The Indian industry is exposed to the latest in cutting edge tools and we are using them to produce content that is technically at par with the best in the world.

 

CQ. Why is it seen that some foreign companies are reluctant to outsource animation work to India. Are there any major hindrances or is it fear of piracy that is stopping them?

P.J. Outsourcing has been in vogue for some time and therefore the fear of piracy - in my opinion - is not a major deterrent. The reason why established entertainment majors have second thoughts about India is this: will the studio compromise on quality? By consistently proving our worth over the years, most of the top studios in India have answered this question. It has taken us a lot of time, effort and creative output to be recognized as competent producers in the West. As a

result, the uncertainty has vanished and foreign companies are ready to invest their projects in India.

 

CQ. The entertainment industry is fast dominating the global animation market. Is this trend gaining ground in the domestic market?

P.J. There was never a question of one cutting out the other. Animation has always been a part of the entertainment industry, be it the pioneering films from the Disney stable to the latest successes of Pixar. The time for animation has never been better. More and more films are being made in different mediums as a result of the shorter turnarounds. In India, the success of “Hanuman” is also a pointer towards the popularity of the medium and the potential it holds.

 

CQ. Do you develop your own content and possess distribution rights? What are your latest projects for feature films, television, games and new media? Any partnership with international studios?

P.J. Yes, we develop our own content and do possess distribution rights, in collaboration with our production partners across the world, as the case may be. Some of our latest and prominent projects are as follows: Wolverine for Marvel Studio USA, Free Fonix for BBC, Dragonlance for Paramount Pictures-USA Finley the Fire Engine for Hallmark Entertainment 13th Kitten for 2 SIDES TV, UK Some of our original projects (in production and development stage) are: Maharaja

Cowboy, Frogskool, Bubbles, Baba

Yaga.

 

CQ. Do you have any incentives provided by the government for the development of the industry?

P.J. Not so far. The government can do a lot more. It can reserve airtime in the television channels for local animation content. This small step can spur Indian studios to take up original content creation. The government can create a special fund that could extend soft loans to

original animation productions. The government can also allow import of hardware

and software required by a studio, free of customs duty while simplifying procedures for import of IT equipment. Granting industry status to the animation sector and starting animation training schools are some important steps the government can initiate.

 

CQ. Do you think that the industry attracts the best of talents?

P.J. As its profile increases in the next couple of years, more and more talented artists and professionals will join the animation industry.

 

CQ. Indian animation during the last few years lacked expertise in 3D animation products. How has this been overcome?

P.J. 3D was a new medium and it took most studios some time to make the most out of it. I am happy to report that it has now become the main engine of the industry’s progress. This happened by upgrading the technical infrastructure, revamping our production model and successfully training 2D artists in 3D.

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