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Filipino Animators In Demand Globally
« on: October 13, 2008, 08:18:49 AM »
Jaye C. Bautista
Manila Bulletin

Truth be told, there are true-blooded Filipinos behind some of the most recognizable Western pop images.

The fact is, there may be not such hype about it but Pinoy artists, animators, and comic book artists are, time and again, proving that they can hold their own against foreign artists.

In my humble opinion, I think, given the right break and timing, the Pinoys may very well rank among the best in the world. Why? Read on…

The demand for Filipino talent surged in the last decade, especially in the years when other countries like India, Singapore, and China had not yet penetrated the art outsourcing market in Asia.

Big, American-based entertainment providers like Walt Disney Co., Warner Brothers, Marvel Comics, Dream works, Inc., and Hanna-Barbera were culling animation products solely from the Philippines.

The benefits from this exchange prompted these companies to set up base in the Philippines, spurring the animation industry in the country forward, and giving birth to subsidiaries like Fil-Cartoons and Philippine animation houses.

The Philippines is now known as the global animation haven. Industry estimates say about 90 percent of American television cartoons are now produced in Asia. Of that, more and more are bringing their business to the Philippines.

The animation industry in the Philippines started in 1983 when Burbank Animation, Inc. set up the first animation studio in the country.

This was quickly followed by Fil-Cartoons, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hanna Barbera, a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting which employs nearly 650 people in Manila.

Filipino artists and technicians draw, paint and film up to 25,000 sketches, mainly by hand, for every 30-minute episode. After 20 years, the animation industry now employs 4,500 full time employees in 40 animation studios in the country. Its estimated revenues last year reached 54 million US dollars, according to reports.

In fact, while I was living in the U.S., I rented out a bedroom in my 4-bedroom townhouse in Glendale, California to a girl named Jopot who was part of an all-Pinoy team of animators that the U.S. "pirated" from Hanna Barbera. They were all women, in their early 20s and the company that got them facilitated everything – their transport, board and lodging an even gave them cars!

There is an emerging preference for Asian subcontractors the reason being mainly due to lesser labor costs. According to a CNN report, a 30-minute cartoon costs $ 130,000 to produce in the Philippines, compared to $ 500,000 in the United States.

The work is so lucrative that the Philippine animation industry makes up a hearty $ 50 million of a global industry pegged at $ 50 billion, according to a study by Beanstalk Media.

The comic book arena continues to be attractive to the country’s animators, especially Fine Arts graduates.

Media reports estimate that 150-200 digital animators leave the country each year, in search of better paying jobs abroad. The demand for Filipino artists, in particular, continues to increase because of their world-class skills and other advantages: English proficiency and understanding of other audiences, particularly the Western audience.

My brother Joel is a 3-D Animator and lives in Glendale , California. Proof of Pinoy ingenuity, my bor was a2-D animator before then. He learned in 3 months what some of h is peers learned in years. After only3 months of training, he was given his $ 200,000.00 work station --- and how!

Because of this edge, industry experts predict that the worth of Pinoy artists will continue to rise in the coming years, even with competition from others from the Asia-Pacific region.

Such a trend can only result, as one such Pinoy artist, Anthony Climaco, who recently was given "The Visual Effects Society Award and also garnered a Creative Emmy Nomination, has proven, in indelible and original Filipino marks on the majority of animation produced in the world.

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