How the animation industry in Bangladesh is growing
Remember 'Meena', the animated character who taught generations of Bangladeshis about morals and knowledge? How about the escapades of 'Thakurmar Jhuli' that filled our rooms with anticipation and joy? These animations were not just children's tales; they were the building blocks of many childhoods in Bangladesh.
Today, animation in Bangladesh is metamorphosing, moving beyond the flickering screens of our childhood to present a host of career opportunities. It is emerging as a flourishing sector, creating a space where tradition meets innovation and dreams meet reality.
The evolution of Bangladeshi animation
The animation industry in Bangladesh, while still in its nascent stages, is a testament to the nation's burgeoning creative potential. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the canvas for animators expands, and Bangladesh is no exception. However, like any emerging industry, it faces its own set of challenges and opportunities.
At a glance, Bangladesh's animation landscape might seem like it's playing catch-up with global standards. Ananta Islam, a young solo animator from Genkai Studios, says, "Global animation hubs often have larger budgets, access to advanced software and hardware, and a deeper pool of experienced professionals. Compared to international animation standards, Bangladesh is still catching up." Earlier in the year, Genkai Studios posted an original animated short film called 'Flight', which was directed and animated in Bangladesh by Ananta, a student of Fine Arts at Jagannath University.
A similar sentiment is echoed by RTBRuhan and Ratul Biswas, directors and animators at XD Bros, a local animation studio in Bangladesh. They note, "There is a disparity between local animation quality and well-established global standards, attributed to limited access to advanced tools and training." Yet, it's about more than just the challenges. The very fact that these observations exist indicates a keen awareness of the global benchmark and a drive to meet, if not exceed it.
The financial puzzle of local animation
The animation industry's future in Bangladesh is not just about content creation; it's about innovation, diversification, and pushing the envelope. Yet, for all its potential, the industry's growth is stymied by a lack of investment and resources. The animation sector, by its very nature, is capital-intensive.
Ruhan and Ratul articulate this challenge, saying, "The existing investments and resources in Bangladesh's animation industry are growing but are not ample to ensure competition on an international level." Local animation experts agree that there is a pressing need for enhanced support from third parties, angel investors, and government initiatives. However, a harmonious collaboration between private entities, governmental bodies, and animation studios can propel the industry forward, allowing Bangladesh to carve a niche for itself in the global animation landscape.
From access to advanced tools and training to financial constraints and navigating the intricate maze of creative complexities, the challenges are manifold. Ruhan and Ratul highlight, "Significant challenges in animation projects encompass overcoming technical intricacies, managing financial constraints, and navigating creative complexities to produce engaging high-quality content."
One of the leading animation studios of Bangladesh, Cycore Studios' CEO, Murad Mahbub Abrar, adds another layer to this, pointing out the scarcity of educational institutions offering specialised courses in animation in Bangladesh. This gap in formal education underscores the importance of self-learning, mentorship, and on-the-job training.
Ahsan Habib Shawon of Magic Puppets Studio, an animation studio working for the film industry and international market, offers a unique perspective, drawing attention to the payment structure for animators in Bangladesh. He says, "The volume of work in Bangladesh is a lot in comparison to the payment for the animators, and this disparity could deter potential talent from entering the field." However, he remains optimistic about the future, believing that with time, the talented animators of Bangladesh will be reaching greater heights.
The rise of animated storytelling in Bangladeshi films
The film industry in Bangladesh, while traditionally rooted in live-action cinema, is gradually recognising the potential of integrating animation into its narrative fabric. A prime example of this is the collaboration between Magic Puppets Studio and the makers of the film 'Hawa'. Ahsan Habib Shawon of Magic Puppets Studio recalls their involvement, particularly in the intricate VFX and liquid simulation scenes. Their contribution to the movie's underwater sequences is a testament to the studio's prowess and the broader capabilities of Bangladeshi animators. These collaborative endeavours lay the groundwork for more comprehensive projects in the future, diminishing the distinction between live-action and animated filmmaking.
Cycore Studios, on the other hand, has taken a more global approach, focusing on pressing issues that resonate worldwide. Their project, 'Tomorrow: An animated film about climate change', is an ambitious testament to the vision and the broader potential of animation to convey societal messages such as climate change.
The importance of specialisation
In the multifaceted world of animation, the mantra for success increasingly leans towards specialisation. The vast expanse of the animation pipeline, from conceptualisation to final rendering, demands expertise at every stage. For those aspiring to carve a niche in this industry, a generalist approach might offer a broad understanding, but it's the specialists who often find themselves in high demand.
Murad Mahbub Abrar of Cycore Studios aptly points out the pitfalls of being a "jack of all trades, master of none" in this domain. According to him, as the industry evolves, so does its complexity, making it imperative for animators to delve deep into specific areas, be it character design, texture artistry, rigging, or any of the myriad specialities the field offers. By honing expertise in a particular segment, animators not only enhance their employability but also contribute more effectively to intricate animation projects. In essence, specialisation isn't just a career choice; it's a strategic move towards ensuring longevity and success in the animation world.
Bangladesh's emerging role in global animation outsourcing
Digital platforms have emerged as a beacon of hope, enabling local animators to showcase their talent on an international stage. This is a golden opportunity for Bangladesh, a nation teeming with young, eager animators. Ananta Islam further elaborates on this, stating, "For young animators in Bangladesh, there are opportunities to work on local and international projects like advertisements, TV shows, and educational content." The future holds the promise of increased collaborations with international clients.
As per a common sentiment shared by professional local animators, the economic dynamics of the animation industry also favour Bangladesh. According to them, historically, India has been a major destination for outsourced animation work. However, Bangladesh is emerging as a more cost-effective and convenient alternative. The quality of work, combined with competitive pricing, makes Bangladesh an attractive proposition for international studios looking to outsource. This shift is not just about cost but also the dedication, creativity, and resilience of Bangladeshi animators, who are increasingly being recognised on the global stage.
Navigating a future in Bangladeshi animation
For local animators aspiring to make their mark, the journey ahead, while promising, requires careful navigation. Ananta Islam offers a roadmap, advising youngsters to "master the fundamentals, leverage online learning, practice consistently, and build a quality portfolio." Moreover, understanding the specific segment of animation they excel in, staying updated with industry trends, and networking extensively are crucial. As the industry evolves, so should the skills and strategies of the animators, ensuring they remain relevant and in demand, both locally and internationally.
As it can be seen, the animation industry in Bangladesh is at a pivotal juncture. It stands on the cusp of greatness, armed with talent, ambition, and a drive to succeed. The challenges, while significant, are not insurmountable. With the right investments, collaborations, and a focus on education and training, Bangladesh's animation odyssey is poised to be a tale of success, innovation, and global recognition.