China and India’s Animation Boom

The animation industries in North America and Europe may be healthy, but the numbers presented in this newspaper article from Chinese news agency Xinhua are staggering. Can anybody say Chinese animation boom:

* In 2006, China produced more than 81,000 minutes of animation, more than China’s aggregate output between 1993 and 2003.

* By October 2006, nearly 5,500 animation studios had been founded in China. (I’m skeptical of this number, but even 10% of that would be over 500 studios. That’s a lot.)

* There are 447 universities in China with animation departments, and an additional 1,230 schools with professional training for cartoonists.

* Over 64,000 students majoring in animation have graduated from universities with an additional 466,000 currently studying animation.

China’s neighbor, India, has been experiencing a similar boom of its own. This newspaper article from an article this week in Rediff offers some big numbers of its own:

* There are currently 300 animation companies in India employing approximately 12,000 people. An additional 3,000 freelancers work in the industry.

* At least 150 gaming companies also operate in India, employing 2,500 people. Over 13,000 people are expected to be employing in gaming by 2010.

Just to offer a little perspective on these, the largest animation union in the United States representing most major studios in LA, the Animation Guild Local 839 IATSE, currently has slighty over 2,100 active members, and at its all-time peak (in the mid-1990s), it topped out at 2500 members.

While it’s true that the large majority of animation work being produced in China and India is low-grade TV animation – the type of work that was being outsourced a decade or two ago to South Korea and the Philippines – there is an upside. If Korea is to serve as a model, once the outsourced work dries up, the large pool of trained talent will turn to producing their own original projects. Both the Chinese and Indian animation industries are in their infancies and it’s safe to say that we can expect to see a lot of exciting new work coming out of those countries over the coming years as their industries grow and mature.

(Xinhua article via CG Society)