N. Shatrujeet

Visual Company Labs: Weaving animated magic

Some of the companies that the Tata Elxsi division has worked with, include: Hindustan Lever, Pillsbury's and Monsanto

As a percentage, TVCs which use animation are minuscule in India. But the trend of animation in television advertisements is catching up - fast.

Take Bangalore-based Visual Company Laboratories, for example. Part of the Tata group and Tata Elxsi, to be more precise, the one-and-a-half year old entity is heavily into producing animation for advertising and mainstream Bollywood movies.

Senior company executives told agencyfaqs! that the work is extremely exciting and challenging at the same time. Some of the companies that the Tata Elxsi division has worked with, include: Hindustan Lever, Pillsbury's and Monsanto.

In films, the list includes Kal Ho Na Ho, Chupke Se, Hum Tum and the forthcoming Dhoom. As the list suggests, the animators have worked with Dharma Productions (Yash Johar) and Yashraj Films (Yash Chopra). There's also Boys, an animation film, helmed by renowned director Shankar. Some of the creative team members have been associated with blockbusters like Mohabbatein and Lagaan.

It's clear that animation and special effects, hitherto restricted to big budget projects in the US and Europe, are making inroads into the Indian film industry as well.

In fact, a report by Anderson Consulting pegs the Indian animation industry at $550 million. It also estimates a growth rate of 30 per cent annually in the next three years resulting in a $1.5 billion industry by 2008.

Nasscom, on its part, estimates that India could use 300,000 professionals in content development and animation by 2008, up from 27,000 three years ago.

Visual Company Laboratories is among the entities, who are known for their quality work in animation. Its peer group incude Pentamedia Graphics, Jadooworks and many others.

What sets the entity apart from many others in the industry are: financial backing of the Tata group, the association with the Tata brand, and its quality work.

"For a player in this industry, it is very important that the promoters are willing to be patient and allow a decent gestation period," said an executive. "A 15-30 seconds animation in an ad film takes six weeks to complete, while in order to make the film digitally, it takes two-to-three weeks. So, it is important to have promoters who understand and appreciate quality," he added.

"Take our Smoodles ad for example. The animation has the look and feel of clay characters, but everything has been created through animation. I think the advertisement connects beautifully with the target viewer of Hindustan Lever."

"People, who do not like animation too much, should remember the successes of all-time favourites like Tom & Jerry, or the Walt Disney characters. Certainly, these characters would not be half as adorable or entertaining if animation artistes had not put life into them."

Incidentally, since the word 'animation' is derived from the Latin word 'anima', meaning soul, will animation now breathe a new life into Indian advertising? Going by international statistics that the industry is among the fastest growing fields globally and in India too, and that it is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2005, there's definitely a strong possibility. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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