Cosmos-Maya, a leading studio in Asia and producer of many India's successful 3D and 2D animated series, has expanded globally with its three cartoon shows.
While Atchoo has been acquired by Nickelodeon and has reached 108 countries, Motu Patlu has been syndicated to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) with Nickelodeon MENA. Tik Tak Tail and Atchoo too have expanded to MENA with Discovery Kids.
KKR-backed Emerald Media, a pan-Asia platform established by the leading global investment firm, recently acquired a controlling stake in the Singapore and India-based Cosmos-Maya. Emerald got Cosmos to create three linear channels for Wow Kidz, their own brand, and launch it on Yupp TV on a subscription basis, enabling access to the latter’s customers across the world.
In return, Yupp TV has helped launch Motu Patlu to an audience outside India. Anish Mehta, CEO, Cosmos-Maya spoke to BusinessLine on the state of the industry. Excerpts:
Technology is no more seen as intrusive as it used to be in creating animation. Your views?
India has had the technology and know-how of 2D animation since the 1990s. Yes, there have been technological advancements and we do have better tools at our disposal but animation has always been a medium of creative storytelling and the animator assumes utmost importance.
There have been improvements with each subsequent phase but the 2D animation process remains largely unchanged. There has been no change that drastically cuts down the production time. Even in the case of 3D animation, the Maya software has been in use since the early 2000s. There have been periodic upgrades but not much has changed.
How well the animator picks up the vocation is what matters in the end. The changes in creative expression and aptitude over the years matters more for us.
How is the explosive growth in new distribution platforms helping content creators?
The increase in distribution platforms has proved to be very beneficial to content creators. There is a plethora of new VOD platforms competing for both consumers and content. Content creators have been given a licence to create disruptive storylines which can be aired on a number of platforms.
Age-old formats have started changing. Episode numbers are no longer stipulated. As content producers, there are a lot of creative liberties we are getting nowadays, but whatever the medium, the connect with the audience still holds paramount importance.
There are examples where upstarts with great stories have made a name for themselves. YouTube has been the preferred platform in these cases given its high virality potential. However, for kids’ content, there are a lot of SMPs that creators need to keep in mind and only a compelling narrative does not suffice.
Low barriers and costs are driving upstarts into animation. What does the future hold for them?
This has been a boon for content creators. However, it is important to note that trends emerge, platforms proliferate at every phase of technological advancement. The one thing that remains constant is hard-to-please audience. The quality of the content plays a major role here.
Having said that, the freedom an individual consumer gets with these platforms is phenomenal. That makes things a lot more challenging creatively because one has to balance the commercial, technical as well as creative constraints while appeasing consumers who are so discerning.
Is ‘cartoon and animation on mobile device’ the next opportunity?
Yes, without a doubt. India is a country where most households have a single television set. When parents want to watch soap operas or a news channel, mobile is the only platform kids have for watching their favourite shows. Prime Video and Netflix both run on smartphones and there’s always YouTube. It helps our cause that more than 60 per cent of the content consumed on YouTube by children under the age of 14 is short form content.
India is a country with close to 600 million smartphone users. Kids, being very mobile-phone-savvy, are an unexplored audience whose digital consumption helps media conglomerates drive consumer-aggregation.
How is a globally distributed workflow, and the cloud at large, helping your cause?
International co-productions are the way forward. When two studios decide to produce a show together, distribution of the labour is only one of the benefits. The merging of cultures and creative inputs from each side ensures that the ideas generated are unique and have a global appeal. ‘Atchoo!’, one of our international co-productions has recently been syndicated to 108 countries. This speaks volumes of the success of such ventures.
Cloud computing has been a boon in this regard. Co-animators from different parts of the world can work together, store, manage and share their produce without ever being in physical proximity.