KINFRA Film & Video Park, Kazhakkuttom
The largest motion capture facility in the country, set up by Accel Animation Studios, is being harnessed to create state-of-the-art 2-D and 3-D animation products for international clients India’s only animation studio at the KINFRA film and video Park. It has created a niche for itself by setting up a floor on which motion pictures can be easily animated without the need of their being shot in the actual.
Some weeks ago, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) observed that the Indian animation industry had the potential to grow into a $1.5-billion business by 2005. Long before this announcement, the management of the KINFRA Film and Video Park near Thiruvananthapuram had seen the potential in animation and drawn up plans to leverage this.
On the anvil is an exclusive `animation zone’ within the park. Similarly, the park’s management is also looking at establishing a world-class animation school inside the park.
There is a shortage of properly trained animators, both in Kerala and in India, and yet there are many talented and creative young people in the State. The proposed animation school will help overcome this shortage of properly trained people that confronts the industry in India.
The idea is to set up the animation school as a three-way joint venture that involves KINFRA, an international animation school and a player from the animation industry. The park’s management is already discussing this proposal with some leading players from the animation industry.
In fact, the ultimate objective is to transform the park — positioned as India’s ‘first infotainment park’ — into a one-stop-shop for all the needs of the entertainment industry. The decision to set up the special animation zone targeted at animation studios was, for instance, influenced by this ambition.
This special zone will be located in a separate building and will offer its occupants all basic infrastructure such as power, water air-conditioning and so on. Besides, it will also offer tenants built up space and access to common facilities such as a conference room, cafeteria and projection room.
Similarly, in keeping with the park’s objective of being a place where `real business can be done’, the management is in the process of adding finishing touches to several multifunctional business centres. And by March next year, the park will have its own preview theatre located in the administration building. This 100-seater theatre will be the “best of its kind” in this part of India.
Meanwhile, the park has already started attracting some high-profile occupants. The Chennai-based Prasad Film Laboratories established a film-processing unit in the park several months ago. In fact, this unit has started processing most films made in Malayalam. Working with this unit is more cost-effective for many Malayalam film producers.
Another venture that is likely to interest the State’s filmmakers is a proposal to establish a unit to maintain and repair film and video equipment. A Mumbai-based entrepreneur is spearheading this project, which is likely to be very useful to Kerala’s film world.
Construction work on actor Mohanlal’s studio complex within the park is nearing completion, as is work on Revathy Kalamandir’s facility. Another important project is the `International Film Centre’ being set up by the Kerala Chalachitra Academy. The foundation for this facility was laid recently.
Kerala is home to an increasingly diverse blend of manufacturing and knowledge industries that produce everything from banana chips to computer chips. This is perhaps why the State’s nodal agency to kick-start such activities, the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA), has created no less than 17 theme-based parks across the length of the “green and pleasant land”, in just over a decade.
Quite a few of them are the first of their kind in India, such as the Food Processing Park at Kakkancherry in Malappuram district, created in 2003 with help from the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The KINFRA Film and Video Park came up on 75 acres of stunningly positioned slopes at Kazhakuttam near Thiruvananthapuram, it was a concept that again broke the mould – the country’s first integrated one-stop shop for the infotainment industry.
Small islands within these parks have in recent months been accorded the status of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), allowing KINFRA to enter into understandings with private partners to create export-oriented units within the larger entities. The latest, the SEZ for animation and gaming, is nearing completion at Kazhakuttam and is likely to see at least half a dozen leading players set up shop during 2006 in this new and fast growing niche of the entertainment-information technology convergence.
In fact, the Film and Video Park is already home to some cutting edge cross-over technology, where traditional, film-based cinema production is slowly heading in new digital directions. The largest outfit here is Prasad Labs, which now process all their Malayalam language films within the park, having successfully shifted this activity from Chennai over the past three years. They are planning to install a tele-cine unit which will facilitate the conversion of film into digital format for “non-linear” editing. The days of cranking the movieola and cutting physical strips of celluloid are clearly over.
Near by, Murali Nair is racing to commission his digital post-production studio. For his own future productions, the film maker who shot to fame with his maiden feature film Marana Simhasanam (Throne of Death), which won the Camera d’Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, has decided to go digital. “High Density television is already the way to go for television films. So it makes sense for me to shoot and edit my features digitally,” he said. A veteran of the shoestring film budget, Murali Nair hopes his new facility will be of service to budding film-makers in the State who will be able to have the post-production work done for them or use his studio to do it themselves.
The last major facility to go on stream at the Film and Video Park was Vismaya, Malayalam film actor Mohanlal’s Dolby/DTS sound recording and post- production unit. The Kerala-based book publishers DC Books has ventured into new areas of convergence studies of late and its Media School is already training its first batch of students at Kazhakuttam. On its part, KINFRA recently commissioned a 15,000 square metre air-conditioned space to house units of the SEZ Animation Zone and is also talking to private players to jointly set up an International Animation School within the Film and Video Park.
With a Rs 20-crore investment by KIDC already in place, KINFRA Film and Video Park is seeking investors for the other facilities.In fact, it has already attracted some investors, including Prasad Productions, Revathi Kalamandir, Bharat Mohanlal and Bharat Suresh Gopi.The focus of this film and video park will be on infotainment. And investment opportunities are in video studios, outdoor shooting facilities, animation and special effect studios, CD/DVD services, teleport facilities and digital cinema production.
The KINFRA Film and Video Park, India’s first industrial park catering exclusively to the infotainment industry has matured into a complete ecosystem for the digital animation and cinema sector.A year after the first special economic zone for animation and gaming, came up here, on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state, some of the most cutting edge technologies for the global cinema and TV content industry are being deployed.