Sony Imageworks Gag Film About Indian Outsourcing

Digital animators and visual effects artists at Sony Pictures Imageworks created this unofficial short that shows two artists concerned about how Sony’s new outpost in Chennai, Imageworks India, may affect their lives in Culver City. It’s meant to be a funny gag film, but the underlying message represents a very real fear that surely many animation and vfx artists in the US have right now.

UPDATE: According to this blog, this film was the prize winner in an “under $100 film” contest held at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

(A sidenote: The video is even funnier if you’re familiar with this Bollywood movie scene. And for you English-speakers, here’s the translated version.)

(via Thinking Animation blog)

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  • http://stephansolarchive.blogspot.com Stephan

    Yeah, I think a studio that makes millions a year can afford to give animators of their own a decent job. Shees!!!

  • http://afrokids.com Floyd Norman

    Hey, from Hollywood to Bollywood. I can learn to sing and dance on the job.

    Sign me up.

  • Tom Pope

    RE: Translated version
    “Who put the goat in there?” Hee hee. Perfect for a Monday.

  • robiscus

    In 2003, worked for an NYC production/animation house on an animated film for a big name toy company. They outsourced all of the CGI animation to a company in India. They bet the house that they could save money on the outsourcing, but everything came back absolutely horrible and there was nothing they could do about it. Their loss – $1 million, and the producer of the project was fired and left the industry for good.

  • Edward Liu

    I misread the headline on first scan. “Gag” can be read as a verb rather than an adjective, which would make this a story about how Sony Imageworks was suppressing an animated film about Indian Outsourcing. Which they may yet do when they find this little short…

  • red pill junkie

    That’s just what Hollywood needs: more item girls :-)

  • http://gerarddesouza.blogspot.com Gerard de Souza

    Under $100.00? Not if made during work hours.

  • http://saturdayamcartoons.blogspot.com/ Mat

    Outsourcing and animation is not new. I’m sure that it’s been happening for 40 years now. Maybe this is new just for CGI.

  • droosan

    Perhaps I’m alone in the thought that, since Sony Imageworks is (ulimately) japanese-owned, an Imageworks India isn’t any more-or-less “outsourced” than the Culver City operation already is.

  • Steve Gattuso

    Nah, you wouldn’t want to inject logic into the argument, droosan.

    (Hell, given that it’s Sony, I’m shocked it isn’t already outsourced to Korea or China…)

  • http://rohitiyer.blogspot.com Rohit Iyer

    Okay, I have to clarify some things here.

    I am an Indian and yes, I can laugh at myself. But I have to specify that the “Benny Lava” video is not from Bollywood. “Bollywood” refers to the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai. Aside from that there are many other regional film industries. This one happens to be in Tamil from South India.

    Also, the “translation” is not actually a translation but a comedic take on what the creator thinks the words sound like.

    Back to the point – the Indian animation industry is becoming a hotbed for outsourced work and as a student I can’t really comment on the quality of the work done here. But I do know that it usually seems to be limited to the donkey work. For instance Sony Imageworks did mainly the match-moving and rotoscopy for Spider-Man 3.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of great animation filmmakers coming up in India and I think that if we use our talents and resources to create original content, it would be far better than being exploited by foreign production houses.

    But I guess some people just can’t see past the $s.

    Or is it rupees?

  • http://www.myspace.com/crumbcrispcoating Jonathan the Bellboy

    I was highly amused until I figured some executive called it a team building exercise.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Imageworks is going through a management restructure right now. This is nothing but an ass-kiss to their management.

  • Danny R. Santos

    Robiscus, I believe what animation house you are talking about because I heard the same story. The sad story is that they keep losing money to outsourcing, wouldn’t it be financialy easing to them if they kept jobs stateside and do the project right the first time around than to pay extra $$ to redo mistake that has to do alot with different culture, language and lack of comunication.

  • roseUHvelt

    This little flick was not intended to offend, nor was it intentionally part of any corporate exercise. It was conceived haphazardly, but in the spirit of good fun, and was the manifestation of many feelings. Our little industry is changing, as is our little world.

    The global is arriving.

    and Hell folks, it’s just showbiz…….

    Oh, and no one’s rear-end was injured in the making of this film.

  • H Park

    Although I’m not going comment on he film, but the underlying concern do matter to both professionals and amateurs.
    We know that US Film industry is very business centric. That business culture drives film sale and distribution to the zenith. Thus generating jobs. However they’re business people, they will do anything to cut costs and make more profit. Do they know quality? Heck no. To me, Hollywood Exec are the same as General Motors Execs if you get my drift.

    Here are my questions: How can we become highly efficient before business suits chop more jobs for cheaper bidders overseas? Do we really need a thousand people to come up with one expensive-as-hell VFX or animation movie? Can we retain high quality while being lean? How do we stay ahead of the game of quality? Is it possible to do onshore to rural areas rather than offshore? Ultimately how do we take control of creative ideas into our own hands, not the suits’? How much specialists do we really need?
    These are the type of questions we should consider before its too late.

  • james apacible

    I think a studio that makes millions a year can afford to give animators of their own a decent job. I think a studio that makes millions a year can afford to give animators of their own a decent job. Although I’m not going comment on he film, but the underlying concern do matter to both professionals and amateurs.

  • jesse c

    robiscus, I’m totally Curious as to what studio you could mean . . .

  • Vada Pav

    DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues are in India & moreover Disney are also outsourcing work to india,

    I agree that Indian animation quality is not as good as what you guys do it over there. but you must also consider the fact that its a new industry Here ( less than 10- 15 yrs old ),
    trust me we will get there eventually and produce our own IP content,
    in some years time you will be seeing indian super heroes .. :)

  • Cindy

    Hi

    Now that’s a really funny video. Congrats! Having grown up in Chennai, In the spirit of a true Chennai-ite, I could sit back and enjoy the humor. Yet feel the sentiments of the outsourced world. Kudos!

    I am a passionate Indian animator who had an American Dream. Do read on:

    I initiated first time in India the Siggraph Professional Chapter and Siggraph’s Traveling Art Show in Chennai in 1999 to help the Indian animation community in its inception.

    My animation career started in India in the early 90s with a top animation studio. A couple of years ago I head to USA to pursue my dream, dropping my highly paying animation job. Little did I expect a Disney Studio in the states closing down to setup shop in India. With my Disney dream crushed, I returned after a few gigs.

    Coming back I was welcomed with more surprises. To the other side of the world, I was too qualified, experienced and too widely traveled as an animator to even get a dialogue with hirers for fear of being too expensive. I was no good for an outsource market. nor to any new markets… :o/

  • Cindy

    With reference to my earlier post.
    Some points I had to add: I left India a decade ago on work to another country. Hence the Chennai Siggraph Chapter disintegrated because I could not motivate anyone to take it over from me as mine was a non-profit effort. Cheers!