There is much to learn from individuals who have had a rich experience and an interesting journey in the entertainment industry. These individuals have witnessed the industry’s developments and have contributed to its growth. One such individual who has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry, particularly in VFX, is Akhauri P Sinha, the managing director of VFX and animation studio Framestore India.
Recently, Sinha was invited as one of the masters at the Animation Masters Summit 2023 organised by Toonz Media Group, where Animation Xpress got an opportunity to interview him and delve into his journey and experiences.
How has your journey been so far as you have worked in various sectors over the years?
It’s been quite an intriguing ride, as I have witnessed the evolution of the Indian entertainment sector from its less organised and structured state to its current form. I have experienced the television boom and have actively participated in it. I have seen the transformation of cinema and filmmaking, with projects and the way they are greenlit and made differing from the past. I had the privilege of witnessing the changes in animation in India. I used to be part of UTV Toons – which used to deliver animated content – when I was working with UTV, and I have had the opportunity to work with Indian animation legend Ram Mohan.
I was instrumental in setting up MPC in India and I have seen the changes that have occurred in the VFX industry over the last 12-13 years. Witnessing the growth of the VFX industry has been a personal journey of continuous learning and gratitude. Every day, I am amazed by the immense talent in the country waiting for the right exposure and the right opportunity.
Can you highlight a few key lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
One of the most significant lessons for me has been how to bring together top-notch creative individuals with diverse skill sets and talents for specific projects. Within the limited timeframe, harnessing their strengths to deliver the highest quality work is crucial.
I’m still learning new things every day.
So, what attracted you to the field of VFX?
I initially joined the entertainment industry with UTV. I came from an investment banking background and they were looking for someone to fit in a specific role. As I worked within the company, I gained a deeper understanding of the businesses and decided to stay in this field. This exposed me to various parts of the business including television, animation, film and eventually, VFX. Having witnessed the animation cycle nearly a decade prior, I found it interesting to explore a similar trajectory and journey with VFX.
How has your journey been with Framestore?
My journey with Framestore has been wonderful. When I first met the senior people in Framestore, I noticed that most of them have been with the company for about 20 years or more, and most of them started at junior levels and rose to the positions they are in today. And that speaks volumes about the company’s work environment and its ability to retain employees. This aspect attracted me the most towards the company, apart from the amazing work that Framestore obviously does.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of working for an international company?
One plus is that when working for an international studio, the work never stops. Even when the Indian office concludes its daily tasks, other studios in different countries continue working, resulting in 24/7 global workflows, which is great from a project point of view. One of the other big advantages of working with Framestore, an international and integrated studio, is having access to the best resources and best talent, which can help both individuals and teams to grow. For example, apart from our training programmes like LaunchPad Pro, we also have a global mentorship program, wherein one can be mentored on a specific skill set by a mentor of their choice.
How many employees does Framestore currently have, and does the Indian branch offer any specific services?
In India, we are approximately 500 colleagues currently working in Mumbai, and the international number is around 5,000.
We currently have about 10 departments in India including modeling, tracking, FX, Lighting and Compositing and are on our way to becoming a full-service studio in about a year and a half.
The VFX industry is facing a talent shortage. What is your perspective on this issue?
I think the talent shortage in India cuts across sectors. It is good that new studios are opening up in India. As more studios are being set up here, the ecosystem is being built. In the short term, there will continue to be a talent crunch, but in the long run, this expansion will benefit the entire industry.
With the rapid growth of the VFX and animation industry, there is a heightened awareness of the talent shortage, leading to initiatives aimed at bridging that gap.
Where do you see the VFX industry in the next five years or perhaps in the next one year?
The next five years encompass a substantial timeline, considering the ever-changing nature of the industry. Indian artists are growing and maturing creatively. I aspire to see Indian artists do more and more great work, as well as see Indian projects competing on an international level in terms of VFX.
Lastly, what is Framestore working on currently? Are you planning to open branches in India?
We have just delivered Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and The Little Mermaid, which is releasing this week. We are currently in the process of delivering two other big projects. Overall, I’m excited about the challenging shows we are working on.