Following back-to-back meetings with global production houses and entertainment technology companies at the recently concluded MIPCOM Cannes, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Telangana took a moment to speak with Pickle about the development of Image Tower in Hyderabad and the potential benefits for international audiovisual studios
Hyderabad has two very significant legacies: it is a filmmaking center, and it has a solid technological foundation. As part of Telangana’s long legacy of filmmaking, many Telugu productions can be found in the top 10 blockbusters of the recent decade, including Baahubali, Pushpa, and RRR. Indeed, RRR won the Oscar for Best Original Song last year. As part of its technological legacy, over a million people work in Hyderabad’s tech sector. More than 1,500 companies including who’s who of the world’s tech giants (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple outside of the US) are housed in Hyderabad. These technological heavyweights do cutting edge product development and innovative solutions here.
It is, therefore, very natural that entrepreneurs will find it advantageous to work on the convergence of filmmaking and digital, which is collectively referred to as digital entertainment technologies, such as animation, VFX, game development, and multimedia. This has become a very important industry for us during the last ten years. When Telangana became a new state in 2014, we were determining which areas should be given priority. We identified this AVGC sector and developed Telangana’s IMAGE Policy well before the National Policy.
Many industry experts have given us the feedback that this policy is very comprehensive, very progressive, and addresses some of the industry’s pain points. So, if you ask me, what is the State’s major accomplishment, what have we done? My response will be that we are primarily focused on three issues. The first is infrastructure; the second is training people; and the third is a commitment to innovation. So, in terms of infrastructure and human resources, these are the three investments we’ve made over the years.
The state has made the largest infrastructure investment of its type for the Image Tower. Only audiovisual and digital entertainment companies and studios (AVGC sector) will be housed here. The three most important features to remember about Image Tower are that it is located in Hyderabad’s prime real estate district, that it will cost the state government more than $1.25 billion to build, and that it is being designed in such a way that the industry will consider it valuable.
The Image Tower include a wide range of common facilities. This 1.6 million square-foot building will include amenities like motion capture studios, renderfarms, and post-production capabilities. If you’re establishing an autonomous unit here, you won’t need to invest in many vital facilities because the plug-and-play incubation here will provide all the assistance you require. The AVGC Industry Center of Excellence will also be housed in the Image Tower. The government has made substantial investment in infrastructure development in this area.
We also have a strong focus on talent.
When we build such infrastructure and invite the entire world to set up their studios in Telangana, the world will naturally wonder if there is any talent available in the state.
The common concern of global studios will be: What will I do if I can’t find people? As a result, we bear a significant amount of responsibility.
In Hyderabad, there are now 150 training centers. And we are always receiving updates from the industry, such as what software is being deployed and what application is being used, and we work with these training institutions to ensure that they updated their curriculum so that they do not teach anything that is outdated.
In addition, we are in discussions with global institutions and academies about establishing training and skilling academies at these premises.
Another crucial point is that if you look at any sector around the globe now, a massive disruption is taking place, particularly post-pandemic. AVGC is likewise an industry experiencing significant technological change. So, even before COVID, we had foresight. After COVID, everyone understands the need of innovation disruption. But, long before COVID, we recognized the need of innovation, and this is one industry that will gain greatly from it. So, in collaboration with the Telangana government and the Software Technology Park of India (STPI), we established a Center of Excellence on Image (CoE for Gaming, VFX, Computer Vision, and AI).
So, now that everything is in place, it is time for global studios to take advantage of the opportunity and establish their studio at Image Tower, forging a profitable collaboration with India to service the world entertainment business, since the next few decades belong to India.
(As told to Natarajan Vidyasagar)