Indian Cinema: Learning Innovation through History
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The evolution of the Indian film industry has been brewing for a long time, through the easy adoption of technology. This can be seen in the visual effects rich films such as Krrish, Ra.One and the latest magnum opus, Bahubaali: The Conclusion. This has channelized a surge of improvement in storytelling, scriptwriting, and special effects skills to newer frontiers and is a reflection of the evolving standards of Indian cinema. Time and again, it has been proved that adoption of established technologies across the film value chain has resulted in a boosting of box office sales, wider distribution, and cost efficiencies.
In spite of all the positivity, the Indian sector is still far behind the global scenario in terms of innovation and adoption of forefront technologies, where a wider deployment of emerging and cutting-edge practices is the need of the hour. Fortunately, the following key initiatives are being taken to bolster the system:
Strengthening of Intellectual property (IP) in Films
Across the years, the Indian film industry has dawned upon the importance of protecting integrity through IP as implementing a strict process of IP registration and protection right from pre-production to filming provides a transparent process for all stakeholders to follow. This further encourages international studios to enter India, venture into JVs with the local players, and co-produce films with domestic studios, in turn boosting revenue and exchange of processes.
Development of Technical Skill
India has slowly developed its position as a preferred destination for outsourcing of VFX and 3D conversion work. This can be contributed to the availability of low-cost labour; however, there is still a deficiency of aptly-skilled technicians. Development of skill in emerging and cutting-edge technologies is enabling early adoption and consumption of new technologies. This will, in turn, position the country as a film service centre for the global industry. Establishing more institutes to impart film education is the key to developing a standardised skill for films in India. Institutes are exploring the opportunities ensconced in specialised courses on key emerging technologies such as VR, drone cinematography, 3D conversion through tie-ups with global schools.
Financial Incentives for Studios and Films Deploying Emerging Technology
Studios in India are usually faced with funding challenges, generally holding them back from surging ahead for the betterment of the industry. In order to incentivise studios to explore emerging technologies, financial incentives such as tax holidays or recovery of development costs are being instated. This provides studios with the required cash flow to develop technologies in the country while encouraging global production houses to open their shutters for an Indian adventure.
Funding Support for Conversion of 2D Screens to 3D Compliant Screens:
In order to hearten a prolific environment that supplements wider adoption of 3D content in Indian filmmaking, it is important to ensure the proliferation of 3D screens to monetize content. Currently, the cost of conversion from existing 2D screen to 3D compliant screens cost INR 1 million whereas the cost of building a new 3D screen is approximately INR 3–3.5 million. Government-empowered incentives are being explored, which includes tax benefits and access to funding at low-interest rates. Once the conversion is completed through funding support, theatre owners expect to quickly recover their investment given that 3D films are generating two to three times the revenue in comparison to earlier.
As the Indian film industry moves another phase of all-encompassing growth, it is imperative to up the pace in order to square alongside global technological advances and innovation. The development and deployment of key technologies in Indian films will be critical, in such circumstances. It will be interesting to see how the industry moves towards instilling a well-rounded advancement to truly bring in the revolution of sorts.