The AVGC sector has the potential to transform India into a global power for creative talent and help Indian society evolve by pushing it to reach the next level of learning, as well as engaging with the rest of the world by expanding in multiple dimensions, said Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Textiles.
Addressing the second edition of CII Summit FX 2021 – Global AVGC and Immersive Media Summit, the Minister said, “”AVGC is truly one area which has India’s creative talent at its very best. India’s agility and resilience that you have already demonstrated in the last 16-17 months through the COVID period has shown to the world that we are a trusted partner.”
Underscoring India’s “phenomenal success story” in service sector, the Minister said that India was able to fulfill all its service commitments throughout the COVID pandemic period, and is now growing at a very fast pace. “Despite facing losses in travel, tourism, and entertainment sector that we had last year, we were able to meet our service export commitments by about 97%. Indian service sector really came up to the world’s expectations, literally uninterrupted. Not a day or hour was lost in terms of whatever commitments our Indian industry had made to the rest of the world. It was astounding the way in which India responded to the COVID challenge,” he added in his address at the valedictory session.
Speaking on the potential of the sector, Goyal said that the AVGC sector can expand in multiple dimensions. “It can become multilingual, multicultural, and help Indian society evolve, and go to the next level of learning, as well as engaging with the rest of the world.” He added, that the world is looking for new avenues to meet their growing needs and Indian AVGC sector can gain the maximum as a trusted partner and become a global power for creative talent.
Citing the example of ‘Amar Chitra Katha’, he said that Indian stories can impact learning outcomes of the youth of India and can also have international appeal. “The children of today are growing up with animation, audio visuals, and comics in the form of animation. If we can expand our scope in the AVGC sector, we can actually impact learning outcomes of the youth of India, because we’ll be taking this to the rural areas of India, and really helping them understand what’s happening in the rest of the world. And you will also find a lot of hidden talent in the villages of India,” he suggested.
He encouraged the AVGC sector to look beyond boundaries and truly become an important segment in India’s global outreach in an effort to reach a trillion dollars of service export in the next 10 years. “Services sector is at a relatively smaller number today, compared to merchandise. But looking at the current speed of growth both the services and trading goods can easily achieve a trillion dollar export target. And in that M&E’s 100 billion dollar industry output will also contribute significantly to India’s exports,” the Minister added.
Hailing the efforts made by CII in promoting the AVGC sector, he invited the industry body for a meeting on Government of India’s Dubai Expo initiative, where India Pavilion would showcase the country’s diversity, its achievements and the future opportunities. “I call on all our experts from the AVGC segment from CII (and FICCI, ASSOCHAM) so that we can do an update on the curtain raiser. We can benefit from their expertise and their involvement in the larger vision to make India a success story at Dubai Expo. And going forward, I want to duplicate that in India also. I want to create a permanent pavilion like that in India,” Goyal said.
Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, highlighted AVGC sector’s contribution to India’s growth towards the $5 trillion economy target. “The sector can really double its growth rate and easily become about a trillion rupees sector by 2025. And the amount of jobs it can create is such a powerful tool. We can easily create about 2.5 million additional jobs, making it one of the most important and exciting sunrise sectors to nurture,” he said.
K Madhavan, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment and Country Manager & President The Walt Disney Company India & Star India, said that the goal of India’s media and entertainment industry is to reach $100 billion by 2030. “The growth target remains ambitious but not difficult to achieve, provided we get the right support from policymakers and the government. India already produces 160,000 hours of online video content every year , which is the highest in the world. We’ll see the demand for original and regional content to grow every day and more and more consumers getting access to the internet in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.”
He added that India has a massive strength of storytelling talent in the country, and the country should be able to create stories that resonate around the world. Madhavan said that there are few issues to be addressed like a clear cut roadmap for AVGC exports, creating a global b2b opportunities, encouraging increasing convergence initiative between creators and tech innovators, job creation, regional content creation and distribution hubs and support from government on various matters including the reversal of GST. “The soft power that would come from having a globally recognized media industry will have a large and multiple effects on GDP and employment,” he said.
Rajan Navani, Chairman, CII’s India@ 75 Council and Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Jet Line Group of Companies, said that Indian AVGC sector grew at a fast pace during the pandemic, as “we have a strong 300 million Gen Z population that probably no other country has”. He added that India has now positioned itself for being able to be a part of the explosive growth. “eSports, where we look at professional sports gamers, is an area that is increasingly becoming popular around the world. It’s a very unique confluence of technology, youth culture, social networking, entertainment, community, sportsmanship, sports, entertainment, all coming together,” he observed.
Biren Ghose, Vice Chairman, CII National Committee on M&E and Chair, CII Sub Committee on AVGC and Immersive Media and Country Head, Technicolor India, said that the 2021 edition of the CII Summit FX has seven states or representative associations on board. “We requested for a National AVGC Policy and an AVGC Skills Council. We have the draft ready for serious consideration of the government. A wonderful thing that has happened is that this industry now has become multi-ministerial,” Ghose added. He also pointed out primary grassroots level initiatives that have happened as a result of the platform provided by the CII Summit FX.
The second edition of the Animation, Visual effects and Gaming sector (AVGC) Summit is organised by CII in partnership with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB); State Government of Karnataka and Software Technology Parks of India from 24th August to 29th August. The Summit which will end on August 29 has participation from over 4000 delegates, 114 expert panelists in 34 knowledge sessions. There were 21 international speakers from eight countries – USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Singapore, UAE, Canada, and Japan, who covered various issues concerning the global AVGC sector.
The AVGC sector will be the superstar of the new era and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is committed to support the Indian AVGC sector and play a facilitator’s role, said Neerja Sekhar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
“We would like to know the expectations of the industry from the government to which we are committed to support as a facilitator,” said Neerja Sekhar at the second edition of CII Summit FX 2021.
CII has been advocating for a National AVGC Policy to give a strong fillip to the AVGC sector by keeping in mind the requirements of 21st century. This resonated at the CII Summit FX 2021.
“We also need to collaborate with the states to promote AVGC businesses through various policy inputs. Promotion of skill sets in the sector has already been done by the Government of India through the Media and Entertainment Council,” stated Neerja Sekhar.
Neerja Sekhar emphasized that India has audiovisual coproduction treaties with 15 countries. “This can be a key for growth in this AVGC sector. We expect that these treaties will be leveraged with industry to strike more global partnerships.”
In 2020, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting granted official co-production status to Noah’s Ark– A Musical Adventure under the Indo Brazil Audio Visual Co-Production Treaty.
In 2021, animation feature film Mia & Me — The Hero of Centopia was given the recognition as a co-production film by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting under the Indo-German audiovisual Treaty.
Noah’s Ark– A Musical Adventure, a co-production among Walter Salles’ Video Filmes and Caio and Fabiano Gullane’s production company Gullane, partnered with Indian animation studio Symbiosys Technologies, headed by CEO Naresh Kumar with studios in Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad.
The Hero of Centopia, is a co-production between Studio 100 Media GmbH, Studio B Animation Pty Ltd. and Broadvision Services Private Ltd.
“We hope that we can move further in this area to come up with extraordinary content, loved by not only the two co producing countries, but the rest of global audiences as well,” noted Neerja Sekhar.
“There’s so much content in our culture that we can actually learn about. Let’s look forward for promoting production of more creative and homespun stories, our indigenous narratives and local languages, this sector can make India a hub for the toy industry, encouraging creation of digital games based on Indian characters and culture,” said Neerja Sekhar.
Speaking on the National Centre of Excellence for AVGC, Neerja Sekhar said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is setting up in Mumbai in partnership with the IIT Bombay is moving ahead and with large number of courses for specialists, practitioners and beginners have been visualized and charted out.
The six-day Summit FX (August 24-29) has been organised by CII in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; State Government of Karnataka and Software Technology Parks of India.
India needs an AVGC Council to integrate all the efforts being made by various State Governments, Central agencies and private combined learnings and avoid reinventing the wheel to maximize the availability of resources being deployed by these institutions.
Advocating the need for a National AVGC Skills Council, CII has emphasized that focus on education and skills will be a major pivot for the growth of the Indian AVGC sector
India has audiovisual coproduction treaties with 15 countries. This can be a key for growth in this AVGC sector. These treaties will be leveraged with industry to strike more global partnerships.
The global market size of AVGC sector is close to $260 billion to $275 billion, India’s market share is 1 per cent which comes to $2.5 Billion. Some of the key issues for deliberation at Summit FX 2021 included defining a roadmap for exports as a key initiative and roadmap to leapfrog from current $2 billion to $20 billion creating global B2B opportunities.
AVGC produced locally attracts 18 per cent GST in India while there is no GST on AVGC content produced from outside the country. The government needs to abolish GST or reduce it to a minimum level to encourage local production.
eSports and Gaming are growing at a galloping speed in India. Focus on IP creation, skilling, training are key elements for the growth of the AVGC sector.
eSports is becoming mainstream, the cross platform play in gaming is enhancing both the opportunity and the monetization potential of this sector, 5G is set to boost cloud gaming, and more and more women will be seen playing online games in a few years from now.
Service exports from Animation, VFX and Gaming account for over 70%. It is a major source of export revenue for the country. Therefore, focus in the National AVGC policy should be to develop a special package to achieve higher exports and scale infrastructure facilities for the AVGC sector across every state.
Seeing the way that the Game Engine can function and the benefits it offers is going to be quite revolutionary for the film industry going forward. By embracing Game Engine filmmakers might actually be able to do world class work without having to dedicate huge production budgets. Unreal and Unity among others are advancing these technologies significantly.
The success of AVGC sector is fuelled by the respective AVGC policies and actions by the state governments of Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh can be emulated on a national level. Many other state governments are currently advancing such an agenda.
Each state can specialize in one particular segment of the AVGC industry, and should ensure that Indian MSMEs are given special incentives in that segment venture capital funding and startup labs etc.
The six-day virtual summit will see over 40+ Knowledge Sessions and over 100 speakers deliberating on a wide range of issues that cut across the spectrum looking to develop a cohesive industry engagement with core cross-sectoral policy dialogues and strategic exchanges.
CII SummitFX 2021 will see experts from the UK, the USA, Japan and key states like Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir coming together to discuss the AVGC segment, and its transformation of India into a global leader. This platform will seek to curate and create an environment conducive to helping build a better future and achieve the targets of the segment.
(Highlights will be updated regularly during the CII Summit FX 2021)
Advocating the need for a National AVGC Skills Council, Biren Ghose, Vice-Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Country Head, Technicolor India, emphasized that focus on education and skills will be a major pivot for the growth of the Indian AVGC sector.
Presenting curtain raiser for CII Summit FX 2021, Biren Ghose said policy sessions on the AVGC sector, with focus on games in emerging verticals, sessions on eSports, virtual production, content pipeline, AVGC startup ecosystem, interaction with global masters and talents on behind the scene presentations on how to win an Oscar and talent will be major talking points this year.
Biren Ghose explained the rationale behind this year’s Summit FX theme — The Reset. “A new era of a continuing growing opportunity has emerged. The AVGC sector had so far grown in India as a B2B industry, and revenue had come from global services. The last 18 months saw a major B2C agenda and consumers embraced entertainment (streaming platforms or games) and revenues have grown exponentially higher.”
“We have the ability to increase our business by 100 per cent. But we are constrained only by the fact that we cannot, across the board, get the skill sets,” said Biren Ghose. “I think with the new education policy, we’ve got now the ability to plant the seeds at an even earlier stage.”
Biren Ghose called for the need for industry participation in at least one or two international festivals of animation, visual effects, gaming and e-sports, on the lines of participation in international film festivals. “This is where we will get the opportunity for India to present what it’s doing and how things are shaping up. It is very important to us.”
Biren Ghose called for a stable climate to attract investments as the industry has a robust ability to absorb international investments. “I will not go into detail except to say hundreds of millions of dollars of venture money has come into India in the last 24 to 36 months, just fueling the new economy in AVGC. And I think those investors are looking for a more stable and more enabling climate, in the confluence between government, industry and academia in order to redouble those efforts, because this is like the startup round of what they put in. And I think it opens the door for a lot of enlightened conversation and a spotlight on what we can do even further.”
The Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming Comics (AVGC) sector has the potential to be a global success story for India and can transform the same way the IT revolution did, said K Madhavan, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and President, The Walt Disney Company India & Star India.
Addressing industry leaders at the second edition of CII Summit FX 2021 (Global AVGC & Immersive Media Summit), Madhavan emphasized that AVGC sector can play a major role in achieving the Indian Media & Entertainment target of $100 Billion by the end of the decade.
“The question is how fast we can travel and how fast we can aim for 5 per cent global market share with an annual growth of 30 to 35 per cent,” asked Madhavan. “This is possible if the industry, government, regulator and policy makers work together with the definite agenda and we can help achieve this target.”
The global market size of AVGC sector is close to $260 billion to $275 billion, India’s market share is 1 per cent which comes to $2.5 Billion. Some of the key issues for deliberation at Summit FX 2021 included defining a roadmap for exports as a key initiative and a roadmap to leapfrog from current $2 billion to $20 billion creating global B2B opportunities.
“We should encourage convergence initiative between the creators and technology innovators. That is very critical as the technology is changing minute by minute and how are we equipped to address this. There is huge demand for VFX and animation locally and unfortunately, we are not in a position to meet the (global) requirements,” stated Madhavan.
Madhavan was optimistic of emerging job creation and pointed out that skill and labour is a key factor in the AVGC space. “We have over 400,000 engineers coming out every year from the engineering colleges. We need to train and get them into this industry.”
Madhavan also called for a relook at GST for AVGC Sector. “We are still charging GST at the rate of 18 per cent. That’s why local production studios are forced to move the service outside India and import back to India – so that they don’t have to pay GST. This is a long waiting agenda for the industry. I request the policy makers to look at this seriously.”
It has been a tough time for the film industry in particular the last couple of years with theaters being shut across the country. But the bright spark is obviously been the OTT platforms for making it much more accessible for audiences who’ve been in such desperate need of entertainment over the last two years, said Siddharth Roy Kapur, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment , President – Producers Guild of India, and Founder & Managing Director of Roy Kapur Films.
Speaking at the CII Summit FX 2021, he said, “I think a lot of us in the film industry are scratching our heads and wondering what the future will hold. Now that such convenience has been so widely available to people and they’re so used to it at their fingertips, what does the future of theatrical entertainment really look like?”
He said that a big screen theatrical experience are really things that the film industry needs to focus on when it comes to creating content for the big screen. “And of course, intimate dramas and relationship movies and light comedies, etc., are more likely to be consumed on OTT platforms in the future,” he added.
According to Kapur, “And that, therefore brings me to the AVGC part of it. If we have to make these big ticket entertainers, which involve new worlds, fantasy, magic, realism, VFX, all those things that make a big screen experience really compelling, I think it’s important for filmmakers to really be able to embrace this technology and realise what it can do for their storytelling, I have to admit that the level of training in the industry, when it comes to being able to use these tools is still very, very low. And I think if we really have to move forward as a creative industry, we know we’ve got the skill sets, we know we’ve got the people to actually get the work done, but it’s about the creators embracing this as a way to tell their stories.”
Giving an example of what he meant in terms of training and skill development, he said, “I got the creator of Narcos, a show that is a global hit on Netflix down to talk to our writers and directors here in India about how to structure a series, because we’re used to making movies. And then we’re used to making daily soaps. And we haven’t ever been used to making premium quality digital content. That’s a confluence of both these, the quality of a film, but the length of storytelling and the breadth of storytelling that a series involves.”
Kapur said Narcos creator was very appreciative of the talent and he felt that there was a lot of great talent in the room. “But he did say that as with most things in India, we realise we are skipping multiple generations of growth. We are going straight from daily soaps and movies into creating long form digital premium content.”
He went on to add: “I think if there is one thing that I think that we need to focus on, it is skill development in training. When it comes to our creative people, we should be able to give them the opportunity to use the tools available to them today to be able to fly and tell the stories that they have to tell. So if there’s anything that we can do going forward in that regard, I think that’s where our focus and our attention should be. Because there are stories from India that we can take to the world and get the world to resonate with.”
Kapur concluded by saying that we need to have a Parasite, we need to have a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, we need to have our movies that are able to go out into the world and do the sort of business and create the sort of popular culture and soft power that so many other countries have managed to do. “I’m sure we will do it. But it needs to happen in a more structured way. And not by default, but by design.”