Filipino animators gearing to advance local industry

Tam Noda (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2013 - 12:50pm

MANILA, Philippines - After being a key contributor to the global animation industry for the last three decades, the animation sector in the Philippines now aims to develop original content and advance the local industry.

According to Benjamin Marasigan, president of the Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI), the country has played a major role in the development of content for cartoon television shows and animated films in markets like the US, supplying a significant share of animated content globally.

Marasigan said besides original content, ACPI also aims to provide other high quality services.

He added ACPI is looking forward to empower stakeholders to continue working with companies from the US, Japan, and Europe.

“In a way, the animation industry in the Philippines is one of the oldest because we've been doing work for companies abroad since the 1980s,” Marasigan said. "Right now, we still need to develop our own industry by developing our own content and intellectual property.”

Marasigan, who was recently elected as president of ACPI, is expected to share his expertise to further boost the growing animation sector in the Philippines.

ACPI will be bringing its flagship project "Animahenasyon" in Iloilo City. It is an annual animation competition and exhibition of original Filipino content.

Phoenix One and iAcademy, two training institutions that offer animation courses, will lead the forum.

Iloilo City has been identified as one of the Next Wave CitiesTM by the Information Technology Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO).

Next Wave CitiesTM are locations where the next wave of growth of IT-BPM, including creative services like animation, is expected to happen.

Michael Kho Lim, ACPI executive director, said even with the appreciation of the Philippine peso in the past year, there are more investors coming in.

"There are some foreign companies that are interested in setting up operations here. When these plans materialize, it will generate income and provide employment at the same time," Lim said.

Lim stressed the importance of the academe in ensuring that there is a steady supply of  competent talent for the animation sector.

Lim also shared ACPI will be celebrating its 10th founding anniversary in 2016 and the council is planning at making Animahenasyon an international festival.

"By that time, we'd like for the Philippines to be known not just for its high-quality animation services and but also a source of original animated content," Lim said.

For Marasigan's part, his first foray into the industry was in 1992 when he joined animation company Filcartoons. This allowed him to experience the "Golden Age of Animation" in the Philippines when he became part of animating popular cartoons in the ‘90s, including The Flintstones, Captain Planet, and other Hannah Barbera shows.

However, with the growth of the animation sector came stronger competition from other Asian countries such as China, India, and Korea, which offer the same kind of state-of-the-art animation services and technology as the Philippines but at lower cost.

Yet Marasigan said Filipino animators remained resilient, showcasing world-class skills in flash animation and web design; graphic and art design; mobile application; 3D gaming both for consoles and PC platforms; interactive games; e-learning modules that require animation and animation training; and full 2D and 3D animation that includes pre- and post-production services like in-betweening, clean-up, digital background through scanning and pre-composting, color styling, special effects creation and digital ink and paint application.

In 2012, the animation sector posted 3-percent growth and earned US$132 million. There was also a 4-percent growth in employment of Filipino animators that deliver high-value creative services to a number of prestigious international animation studios.

To continue the positive growth of the animation sector, Marasigan hopes to strengthen their partnership with the government.

Marasigan said ACPI is grateful for the support that the government has given the animation sector. And they hope to increase efforts and continue successful public-private partnerships.

"We have very talented artists, not only in Manila, but also in the other locations in the Philippines. If we are able to tap their talent, then the sector will be bigger and better," Marasigan said.  

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