The IMAGE TOWER will soon become the poster image of Indian AVGC-XR
Ashish SK, Founder of Punnaryug Artvision and Screenyug Creation, and Chairman of FICCI AVGC-XR Forum, shares his insights on the transformative potential of the Image Tower project in Hyderabad, Telangana in an interview with Pickle. He highlights the collaborative spirit of IndiaJoy and sheds light on the evolving AVGC-XR policy landscape in India
What’s your vision of Image Tower built by the Government of Telangana for the audio-visual industry?
When it opens, Image Tower will put India on the world map of the audiovisual & experiential entertainment business. It would elevate India’s Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC-XR) sector to new heights. The Image Tower is iconic. My prediction is that it will quickly fill up with global and domestic audiovisual, post production, and virtual production studios. It will be t e most prominent attraction for India’s AVGC-XR sector, very much in line with Digital Media City in Seoul, Manchester Media City, or Dubai Film City ideology.
In addition to where they operate, a huge number of audiovisual, experiential entertainment enterprises and studios will expand out to be a part of Image Tower. The Image Policy implemented by the Government of Telangana would not limit the phenomena to Image Tower as a building. It is one of the most progressive policies positioning the Indian AVGC-XR business.
How do you view the shaping of digital entertainment event Indiajoy? What’s attractive this year?
TVAGA’s Indiajoy, backed by the Telangana government, is one of India’s most distinctive digital entertainment events. It takes the most collaborative approach, bringing together numerous
entertainment properties under one roof (VFX Summit, Indian Game Developer Conference (IGDC), DesiToons, Cinematica Expo, Asifa India). Indiajoy has become a onestop gathering place and celebration of the AVGC-XR industry, thanks to the imaginative & collaborative attitude of K. Taraka Rama Rao garu – Hon’ble IT Minister (Telangana) and Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Telangana India. Indiajoy and Image Tower will become worldwide audio visual industrial magnets in the next few years. Telangana, India’s youngest state, has catapulted the country’s AVGC-XR sector to unprecedented heights.
This year at Indiajoy, we will honor AnimationXpress’ AVGC-XR for 40 Under 40. This is a project to recognize and award 40 people under the age of 40 from the Indian AVGC-XR ecosystem. Individuals in the AVGC-XR field (production, creatives, content creation, business development, HR, and marketing) receive very few awards. We received 200 entries, the juries chose the top 60, and another group of jurors reviewed and chose the deserving 40. They will be presented on the evening of October 31 at Indiajoy.
At Indiajoy, we also have the United Kingdom as a country partner. Companies from the UK Creative Industry Delegation represent industries such as Immersive technology, gaming, music technology (AI), film and television, intellectual property, visual effects (VFX), marketing and advertising, media, and publishing. This delegation has been in the works for 45 days. Screenyug has agreements in place with two UK studios (one for feature film and one for animation TV Series).
Are we seeing a shift in India’s AVGC-XR policy and infrastructure ecosystem, both at the national and state levels?
The AVGC-XR Policy recommendations of the Government of India are in place and will be announced soon. AVGC-XR policies are in effect in states such as Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and Goa. States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP, MP, Odisha and Haryana have AVGC-XR policies in draft form, and many of them will be ready for announcement by January 2024. In the majority of the regions and States, we have formed AVGC-XR associations. We are striving to prepare policies in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and the North Eastern states. Because, the common infrastructure will be present in the Center, each state will likewise have a Center of Excellence. This idea could also be included in the setting up of landmark parks. Indore is constructing two massive IT parks for the IT-ITES & AVGC-XR industry. The talent pool and skilling here will be distinct, dependent on proximity, and people will be able to access infrastructure, renderfarms, motion capture, and talents from numerous hubs all at the same time. And these centers are linked to institutions that provide AVGC-XR education for jobs and skilling. This shift is apparent.
What is your view of the entertainment business today? What are some of the challenges and opportunities? What factors are impacting global markets in the AVGC industry?
The biggest growth trends are eminently visible in global entertainment business include streaming, theatrical, and gaming, through acquisition and mergers. The role of VFX in films and web series is also increasing (up to 20% to 30% of the budget getting allocated for VFX is inspirational). It is there on streaming platforms for us to see. Some people are considering allocating up to 35% of the film’s budget to visual effects. So I see that as a really favourable indicator. Regional cinema is no longer regional because films are released in four or five languages at the same time. Many startups are developing unique IPs in media and technology. We need to encourage people to create Media and Entertainment technology in India so that IP can be licensed globally. We have certain issues in domestic animation because of studio mergers and over dependence on broadcasters. However, I believe that streaming platforms are introducing new coproduction modules.
The animation studios are reconciling with these changing trends & re-calliberating the business plans to optimize the productive abilities. The Indian animation studios are frequenting several global markets in large numbers is a clear India action of changing business trends. I see many Indian animation, VFX & gaming companies go global in next 5 years.
A new type of consolidation is taking place between Indian and foreign studios. Many countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Russia, Australia and Korea, have begun to recognize the value of collaborating with India and Indian studios.
An important development in our market is that animation and visual effects companies now gradually understand that they have the ability to list themselves in the stock market under the MSME category. Last year, we’ve seen roughly six to seven studios go public on the stock exchange. Going forward, this is the most optimistic sign. I also see this trend continuing and many funds who invested in Indian AVGC-XR ecosystem will find an exit through studios listing at BSE & NSE to start with. I clearly see the stock market will welcome a new category of companies listing from AVGC-XR sector and infuse investor confidence.