Rise of animation education in India: Trends & future prospects

Authored by Dr. Anuj Kacker, Chief Executive Officer (Interim), Aptech Limited

Waiting for the closing credits after a movie is not something reserved for Marvel movies only. Many viewers wait for the credits to roll, to spot all the Indian/Asian names involved in the various animations, productions, and special effects used in the movie. It’s been this way for two decades. Ever since India was identified as a cost-effective destination with a huge talent base for animation and VFX production work, there has been no looking back. The AVGC industry has grown exponentially In fact, as technology has evolved and techniques have become more sophisticated, its scope across various industries has also increased. 

The Current Landscape of Animation Education

The AVGC segment has been a significant contributor to the Media & Entertainment (M&E) sector’s growth. According to the FICCI-EY report ‘Windows of opportunity - India’s media & entertainment sector maximizing across segments’ , Digital media’s contribution to the M&E sector jumped from 16% in 2019 to 27% in 2022, indicating a shift towards digital consumption patterns and content creation. The M&E sector grew by 19.9% from INR 348 billion to INR 2.1 trillion, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 10%. (Source: EY Report

There are several growth drivers, including demand from more sectors, that has created more opportunities than ever before in the AVGC segment. India's training sector has experienced significant growth, with numerous non-vocational institutions offering a wide range of courses in animation, visual effects, game design, and related fields. From traditional animation techniques to cutting-edge technologies like virtual production, students have access to diverse learning opportunities tailored to the demands of the industry.

Recognizing the impact this industry continues to have, including the high potential for employment, the Finance Minister formed the AVGC Promotion Task Force during the Budget Speech 2022–23. It is planned to leverage the National Education Policy (NEP) to include dedicated AVGC course content at school levels to build a strong foundation in creative thinking. States are also now forming policies or assigning funds towards setting up an AVGC-XR hub to promote the growth of this sector. 

Recruiters today prioritize skills over degrees or diplomas when evaluating candidates. They seek individuals with proficiency/ portfolios in animation and related fields, placing lesser importance to their educational degrees and laying emphasis on their body of work/ showcase. Many renowned institutions in the country focus on cultivating practical skills through collaborations with industry partners to develop curricula that mirror real-world challenges through events and other industry-academia touchpoints.  Moreover, these institutions offer top-notch facilities including the technology/ updated industry-relevant softwares, motion capture labs, virtual production floors to enhance hands-on learning opportunities for students. 

It’s crucial to consider several factors to ensure a rewarding educational experience. Firstly, examine the institute's legacy and reputation in the industry; a well-established institution with decades of experience often signifies quality education and resources. Next, delve into its past record, including alumni achievements and success stories, to gauge the effectiveness of its programs. Also assess the placement record and empanelled recruiters to determine the institute’s track record in helping students secure relevant jobs. Lastly, scrutinize the curriculum to ensure it is up-to-date and adaptable to emerging technologies, as this will equip fresh students with the necessary skills to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry landscape.

Key Trends Shaping Animation Education

Focus on industry-relevant skills: Animation education programs are emphasizing on the development of industry-relevant skills, such as character animation, visual effects compositing, game design, and storytelling. Students are encouraged to work on practical projects and even collaborate with industry professionals, if possible, to gain first-hand experience.

Animation education programs are also quick to integrate emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) into their curriculum. Students get to work with tools and techniques actively used in the real world, making their skill set more relevant when they hit the job market.

Niche courses: AVGC has found takers in several industry verticals. As a result, specialized courses and pathways to cater to niche segments such as medical animation, architectural visualization, and educational gaming are also being included in animation education curriculum. These specialized programs equip students with the skills needed to find employment in specific domains. Institutes have created a holistic end-end virtual production academy where students can learn the newest technology, high-quality special effects with the help of cutting-edge equipment and AI-enabled software without the need to be outdoors or have a big budget.

Global collaborations: Animation education institutions are engaging in international collaborations in a bid to improve their credibility and also expose students to global perspectives and best practices. Such collaborations with renowned universities and studios abroad provide students with valuable opportunities to learn industry-relevant techniques and also network with peers in the field.

Future Prospects and Opportunities

Looking at the growth in production of streaming content, coupled with the demand from the education, hospitality, advertising, real estate and hospitality sectors, it is evident that the training segment presents some very attractive prospects.

Rising demand for skilled professionals: The global demand for high-quality animation and VFX content continues to grow. It is largely driven by the expansion of streaming platforms, the gaming industry, and the advertising sector. As India continues to be an important destination for animation outsourcing and content creation, the demand for skilled professionals is expected to rise further.

The challenge here is the skill gap. Two years ago, it was estimated that the AVGC sector in India would require more than 20 lakh skilled professionals by 2024. However, the talent pool back then was only 4 lakhs. This shortfall continues to be a challenge for AVGC organizations that are struggling to deal with the talent shortage and threat of losing business to competition outside India. The government's AVGC-XR policy should help narrow the gap.

Expanding domestic market: The proliferation of digital platforms and the increasing popularity of animated content among Indian audiences have created opportunities for domestic content creators. With the demand for animation and VFX content in films, television, advertising, and digital media on the rise, there is a need for a skilled workforce to cater to this demand.

Emerging tools and technologies: The convergence of animation with emerging technologies such as VR, AR, AI, and immersive media opens up new avenues for innovation and creativity. While animation education programs are already incorporating relevant training modules to prepare students for the evolving landscape of the AVGC industry, this will be a continuous process as AR/VR & XR and related techniques are still in their nascent stages.

The continued growth of the AVGC industry raises the significance of animation education in India. Its potential for enabling economic growth, fostering creative expression and providing the right boost to provide employment cannot be ignored. Animation education equips students for their careers in established studios. It also fosters the spirit of entrepreneurship and independent content creation. Access to affordable tools, platforms, and sophisticated AI-driven applications is allowing aspiring animators and content creators to produce and distribute their work independently. What’s more, the ubiquitous nature of the internet and the power of social media lets them tap into niche markets and reach global audiences with ease.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and Adgully.com does not necessarily subscribe to it.

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