21 October 2012

Sustaining The Philippine Animation Industry

Animation is one of the industries expected to earn a two-digit growth in the next few years. International research firm MarketsandMarkets projects that the animation and gaming market will hit $242.93 billion in 2016 from 2010’s $122.20—that’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.94 percent. Here in the Philippines, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) considers animation as ‘one of the most promising sectors in the IT-BPO industry’ (globally, the Philippines is number one in voice services provider and number two in non-voice, complex services). Data from the DTI shows the Philippine animation industry earned $142 million-worth of revenues last year.
The animation industry has been growing since its inception in 1980s where foreign companies from Australia, Canada and the U.S. started setting up their companies and invested in Filipinos who would become animators. Right now though the industry is facing a talent shortage as more and more Filipino artists choose to work abroad where technology is more advanced. Countries such as China, India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are already equipped with the latest software and hardware, with most of the support coming from the respective governments.

“That’s where the problem arises,” says Animation Council of the Philippines President Grace Dimaranan. “Here in the Philippines, we invest in the talent of the artist while other countries have been spending on the latest technology.” And training the person, in terms of creativity, takes quite some time and money.
Scholarships For Would-Be Animators
Dimaranan, who is also the president of local animation firm Top Peg Animation and Creative Studio, leads ACPI in developing the animation industry. ACPI has more than 50 animation company-members, providing services here and abroad. Under ACPI, there are an estimated of 10,000 individuals employed in the industry at the moment. These people are responsible for flash animation and web design; graphic and art design; mobile application, 3D gaming; interactive games; and e-learning module, full 3D and 2D animation, among others. Together with BPAP, ACPI has established relationships with the government and academe.
 “Since we need to increase the manpower in the industry, we started training students,” Dimaranan shares. “But it was expensive, so when TESDA came in, they agreed that they would shoulder the cost as long as we make the program.”
After two years of consultation, TESDA and ACPI came up with a curriculum that is now being used in TESDA’s scholarship programs. Under TESDA’s Training for Work Program, they came up with courses for 2D Animation and 3D Animation, among others. “When we finished the curriculum in 2005, they rolled it all over the country—those existing TESDA centers were tapped. We came up with programs to help the teachers learn the basics of animation so they would know as well what it was about,” she explains. The scholarship usually lasts for three months.
In 2007, they also came up with Animahinasyon, an annual animation festival featuring original creations by students and professionals. “The aim of the contest is to produce original content,” she says, explaining that, “We compile the entries and then we promote these in other countries.” She adds that as years go by, the creations are becoming better. “What we also do is compile all of them so that if there will be a chance, we can show them on TV,” she shares.
Lobbying For More Support
Dimaranan admits that the support for content-making is still limited. The seed money they get from various institutions such as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Film Development Council of the Philippines are just enough to create a trailer. “It’s not enough to make a film that you can market; one film is worth P3 million,” she says. It’s a different scenario in other countries. “In Malaysia, for example, they have a certain agency that provides funds for the creation of such animated films. What you need to do is present a concept and they will fund it,” she shares.
She is hopeful that the same process will take place here. “Tingin kasi nila [authorities] risky ang content-creation,” she reveals. “Producing one content is a long process. For example, one episode usually costs P3 million, if you have to produce 26 episodes, that would amount to P78 million. So magtataka ka, bakit sila [foreigners] gagastos nang ganun (you’d wonder why would they spend that amount)? Then I found out, if you create one series of animation, for example, a studio can market it to other countries and just dub the language, say English or Spanish. Since they have ads, you will earn. Then after a few years, they will show it again and you will earn again. They will show it as long as there are children viewers,” she says.
Dimaranan says it would help if the authorities concerned can also make it a priority to show animated shows with original Filipino content, adding that ACPI actually lobbies for it. “What we would want is for animated shows that have Filipino content to be shown on prime time,” she says. Of course this is not easy considering that networks have business to handle. She relates: “We attempted. We tried with the bigger networks expecting to get the primetime slot, but syempre, economics, we were told it would be shown at 7 a.m. Who would watch at 7 a.m.?”
With this situation, Dimaranan is suggesting a policy that would direct networks to dedicate one to two hours of their air time to show local animation or documentary. “And that would be on a primetime slot, so you have no choice but to follow since it’s a government ruling,” she says, but adds, “but there should be incentive in return, like less tax, maybe.”    
It may still be a long process, but Dimaranan and the rest of ACPI is optimistic that one day, the Philippine animation industry will find its right place here in the country and in the world.




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