India is fast becoming a preferred destination for outsourcing visual communication services such as, architectural services, engineering drawings, powerpoint presentations, animated feature films, scientific illustration, and much more.
Here's a sample of both generic and industry-specific applications in the form of video/2D/3D or multimedia, including interactive CD-ROMs, that can be outsourced to India.
The cost of getting visual communication services developed in India is half as much as any American or European company would spend getting it done at home. Compare the figures: An hour of animation produced in the US would cost $250,000 to $350,000. Production costs in other popular animation destination like Korea, Taiwan or the Phillippines, would drop to $150,000 to $200,000. By contrast, an Indian company can do the same job for as little as $60,000, with absolutely no compromise on quality. In fact, a Korean government agency is also exploring possibilities of Korean film-makers using the low-cost, high-quality technical expertise available in India.
India has a huge pool of high quality engineers and animators. Apart from big Indian companies mentioned earlier, there are a large number of smaller companies that are dedicated to doing outsourced work and have set-ups designed just for that. All such companies have high-speed Internet links that allow for seamless delivery of digitized content. What's more, both government and private players have set up institutes to tackle shortage of skilled hands in animation. There are over a dozen big and established animation studios in the country and many more in the offing. 2003 also saw the birth of the Animation Producers' Association of India, an indication that the industry is getting organized and ready to take on more.
Though outsourcing visual communications services may be relatively new to India, the country does have a proven track record in executing outsourced IT work. There is also no denying that Hollywood's entry into India is a pleasant side-effect of the image that India enjoys as an IT destination. A recent study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry clearly hinted at this.
Since India is a relatively new entrant to the market, it started off with the latest hardware and software. Unlike the Philippines, which is reportedly struggling to upgrade, Indian studios face no such problems. The larger studios all have SGI, 3DMax and SoftImage, SFX and processing motion capture facilities. Almost all studios have staff trained to make optimum use of basics like SoundBlaster, Video Blaster, digital cameras, FrameGrabbers, MPEG cards and video conferencing solutions. India also offers advanced sound-editing and post-production suites bundled with leased lines for data transfer over ISDN lines.
In the case of the Oscars, Cooper's design elements were sent to India over high-speed Internet links and the VCL team delivered the finished package back to Prologue films in the same way. As Cooper himself said: "We were continually impressed with their creative excellence, with their ability to deliver seamlessly - almost as though they were around the corner, rather than around the globe - and with their hands-on attention in LA."
Typically, this is how it would work.
Most Indians in urban centers are proficient in functional English. And unlike offshore call centers where employees' verbal skills have come in for questioning, visual communication outsourcing faces no such problems. Besides, English language training has taken off in a big way to smooth out glitches in understanding American or British English.
Producing good quality visual communication content requires investment in costly, hi-tech equipment and qualified personnel. And visual content requirements, though important, can fluctuate over a period. When this is outsourced, it means companies don't have to tie up capital in such equipment or staff. They can simply outsource the job only when it arises.
As former NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik said: "(The industry) provides great opportunity for India to capitalize on its two great competencies, viz. computer software and animation." For companies in Europe and America, outsourcing visual communication services to India not only makes financial sense but also allows them to optimally utlilize their resources. Wouldn't you call that a win-win situation?
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