On a narrow lane in Mumbai’s hipster suburb Bandra, the lights are on in an independent sound studio late into the night. A team of engineers puts the final touches to a promotional video for an international brand. Young technicians finishing a shift, spill out onto the tree-lined street for cigarettes and chai, and stream videos on their mobile phones. The project they’ve just completed will be on screens around the world within hours.
The market for video production is booming. Its popularity was already on the rise and the pandemic has turbocharged that trend.
That growth is driving demand for technicians who are skilled in post-production work across video, film, and other digital formats. Post-production, or just ‘post’ as it is referred to in the entertainment business, covers a wide array of activities including editing, colour correction, grading, sound engineering, and visual effects (VFX).
India is fast emerging as a hub providing the full range of post activities at competitive costs. The country is gaining global recognition for its ability to handle large-scale projects, meet tight deadlines, and deliver excellent quality.
Outsourcing demand adds to the momentum
World-class post-production capabilities in VFX, 3D, and animation have helped the Indian market grow at a compounded rate of nearly 20 per cent over recent years. The industry was valued at around US$1.5 billion in 2018 and has continued its upward trend as domestic demand for film, digital and TV has soared. Outsourcing by international studios has added to that momentum.
More than 70 per cent of revenues from India’s VFX industry comes from US and European studios. They like the combination of high-quality services and low cost.Umesh Bopche, Vice President, Brands Services
Walt Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Sony Entertainment all use production resources in India and enjoy cost savings of up to 50 per cent and access to a flexible labour force that can be called to meet peaks in demand.
Blockbusters such as Thor: The Dark World, Avengers, The Chronicles of Narnia, and, more recently, The Handmaid’s Tale have all benefitted from the animation and post-production work of teams in India. If they stay to the end, cinemagoers around the globe see long lists of Indian names as the credits roll.
India has a scalable talent pool. If you need to go from 100 to 1,000 animators in a year, it’s the only country in the world in which you can do that.Sunil Mehta, Head of Research at Nasscom
Netflix bets big in the home Bollywood
India is both a market and a source of talent and Netflix’s approach to the market is instructive. Launched in India in 2016, Netflix has steadily increased its output of homegrown original films and series. It invested more than $400 million on local programming between 2019 and 2020and unveiled a wide range of regional content across multiple genres in 2021.
Mumbai—epicentre of Bollywood, India’s massive movie industry—will soon be home to Netflix’s first wholly owned, full-service, post-production facility. Set to be fully operational by June 2022, it will offer 40 offline editing suites. These will add to the capability the streaming giant unveiled in 2020 with NetFX, a cloud-based platform that allows Indian artists to handle production work for global titles.
This wonderful creative space in Mumbai reinforces our commitment to India’s entertainment industry as we continue to empower creators with the best resources to tell great stories.Vijay Venkataramanan, director, post-production, Netflix India
With Indian workers focused on the resource heavy post-production work, artists in Los Angeles, London, or Lisbon can focus their energies on the more creative aspects of media production.
A virtuous circle, expanding fast
Advancements in digital technology and easy access to the internet underpin the production industry’s growth in India. It is sustained by a large workforce with a good grasp of English. This is crucial since video production requires complex coordination among cross-functional teams who may be located across the globe. English is the language of the industry. As more Indian technicians gain experience on international titles the confidence of producers and production houses increases, and more projects find their way to India. It’s a virtuous circle, expanding fast.
While some international studios have established their own facilities and built captive resources in cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru, others are outsourcing to Indian partners.
Independents find they can afford the big-budget treatment
A combination of technology and outsourcing means that high-end special effects, CGI, and advanced sound engineering are no longer only the preserve of big-budget productions. Web producers, independent filmmakers, music makers, and creative agencies, for whom cost was historically an inhibitor, can now integrate cutting-edge post-production techniques into their projects.
Media houses and studios around the world are struggling to meet the growing consumer demand for video. They need to create engaging content for viewers and to get the best value for money. By tapping into India’s unique combination of talented people and cost arbitrage they gain a competitive advantage.