Home / Industry / Media /  Animation studios struggle with WFH

The covid-19 pandemic has opened up several opportunities for a section of the entertainment industry, including visual effects and animation studios, as employees worked remotely. However, despite this, such firms are set to witness a 51% decline in revenues in 2020, said a KPMG report.

The first few months of the lockdown impacted revenues of visual designers and creators as they were stuck at home without high-end infrastructure, software or equipment.

“Unlike, say, the IT sector, animation firms were not prepared to work from home and it took us some time to deploy adequate procedures," said Rajiv Chilaka, founder, Green Gold Animation, which produced Chhota Bheem and Mighty Little Bheem.

The immediate challenges faced by animation professionals working from home were low internet speeds and bandwidth, setting up the IT infrastructure, including laptops, hardware, and enterprise software, for transitioning to the remote working model, besides data security issues, which disrupted workflows, the KPMG report said.

For firms that did not own intellectual property rights for projects, issues such as restricted access to client files were also a challenge.

As 3D animation films and shows require computers with high-end configuration to run Photoshop, After Effects, Adobe Animate, and Autodesk Maya, only basic work could be done. Activities such as music production and dubbing, mostly in Mumbai, could not be done because of the virus scare, Chilaka said.

“We had set out to launch a robust line-up in March given that the period coincides with summer vacations in schools. However, the pandemic brought the animation industry to a grinding halt and we had to reassess strategies for new episodes that could not be completed on time," said Leena Lele Dutta, business head, children’s genre, Sony Pictures Networks India.

Individual studios took their own time to transition to WFH. However, as animation and visual effects are largely creative and collaborative work, a complete shift to remote working may not make sense, said the KPMG report.

Many small animation studios, with 10-30 employees, are likely to be shut down as a fallout of the pandemic, the report said. This would lead to many freelancers entering the market.

Visual effects studios and producers would resort to Chroma shoots and pre-visualizing sequences to minimize the time spent on sets, but a number of projects in the short term will get delayed as post-production work can start only after shoots happen.

The situation is gradually getting back to normal and the industry will catch up with schedules by the end of 2020, Chilaka added.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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