Prime Focus Academy of Media and Entertainment Studies (PFAMES) offers many industry-integrated training programs to prepare students for current and future jobs in the Media and Entertainment industry. In this Skill Story, Stephen Mascarenhas, Academy Director PFAMES, tell us about the significance of this sector in employment through a great demand for skilled workforce in technology-enabled creative skills in VFX, Animation, Gaming and Comics and other domains. Let’s read on…
Q: Tell us about your alignment with media sector, what are the high demand courses that you are offering where the industry has a huge skill gap and talent is required?
A: Prime Focus Academy works closely with the Media and Entertainment Skill Council (MESC). Prime Focus is one of the largest creative recruiters in India and has trained and recruited more than 10000 people over the last 10 to 12 years and sustained 6000 staff across VFX, Animation and Stereo conversion in India. Due to a constant need of trained resources across all different verticals we created a strong training team to constantly keep training people combined with continuous hiring as there has been a flurry of Hollywood and Bollywood projects over the last 7 to 8 years.
Way back in 2008-09, there were not as many Hollywood projects as there are in India today and in fact in 2010 it was Prime Focus that delivered its first big Hollywood Stereo 3D project and converted the biggest blockbuster of the time – ‘Clash of the Titans’ and the film did extremely well in 3D and that’s also the same time when we recruited the first big batch of almost 200 to 300 artists and trained them as well while making sure we delivered the show on time.
Q: What are the top most skills in this sector and how can one build a career around these skills?
A: For the quality and volume of work already delivered, we have a very good understanding of the need for skilled resources to deliver world class projects within a stipulated period of time and therefore we started training completely fresh resources who may have had some software knowledge by virtue of doing some course at one of the institutes, we focused on skill based training and trained them right from scratch. We head hunted resources from all over the country and found that there were not many candidates who were current with their skills, techniques that were needed for the job they were being recruited for and therefore they had to be re-trained basis the skills required to deliver good quality Hollywood standard work.
We consider RotoScopy, Digital Paint, Match-Move and RotoMation to be one of the most important and much needed foundation skills to start shaping up the creative skills of an individual for the Industry. From my experience, it takes a good 2-3 years of constant hard work, for anyone who desires to become a VFX Artist or a Compositor during his/her career span. Similarly to be an Animator, an individual must have basic creativity, imagination, patience and attention to detail, they must also have some sketching, drawing, character design, modeling and rigging skills in some or the other software, in order to know how to animate the characters. Our courses are purely focused on skill specialization, as that’s the foundation to one’s future in the industry, and to learn the skill with an inbuilt quotient of stipend paid industrial training is an added advantage (Earn while you Learn). At the end of our courses, our students will not only be Industry ready but will also be employment ready for the Industry.
Media and Entertainment Business Highlights and Projections:
- Indian Media and Entertainment (M and E) industry grew at a CAGR of 18.55 per cent from 2011-2017; and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.9 per cent to touch US$ 37.55 billion by 2021 from US$ 22.75 billion in 2017.
- The next 5 years will see digital technologies increase their influence across the industry leading to a sea of change in consumer behaviour across all segments.
- The entertainment industry is projected to be more than US$ 62.2 billion by FY25.With intent of ushering in an era of conversational computing, Microsoft has released an artificial intelligence chatbot known as ‘Ruuh’ for Facebook Messenger.
- The English speaking chatbot is only available to users in India and is to be used for entertainment purposes.
- The industry provides employment to 3.5-4 million people, including both direct and indirect employment as of 2017.
Q: Are there any other short term programs, how are they designed and delivered in this sector?
A: Yes, Prime Focus Academy caters to short term courses as well, which is purely skill based and focused more on precise practical skill based hands on learning, the core focus of Training deliverables is awareness on Data Security, Quality Output and Industry readiness.
Q – How do you align with the Qualification Pack norms, standards which are set by the Media sector skill council (MESC)?
A – Our programs are aligned to the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and the National Occupational Standards (NOS) and we do follow the QPs from an industry perspective, unfortunately almost all the QP’s are outdated as per current Industry needs and standards. For example: a RotoScopy artist, today has to do so much more in terms of the level of complexity and amount of detail required as compared to what it used to be four years ago.
We are working closely with MESC to upgrade the QP-NOS’s. In fact we have even gone a step further and suggested 25 – 30 additional Job roles to be added basis the current industry standards and needs. Presently we have only about 40-45 Job roles listed from a Media and Entertainment Industry perspective, even these Job roles that are listed currently are outdated and merged with some other departments which is confusing. Like for e.g. an Editor, is not a Compositor, but there is a qualification pack of a Compositor with Editor!
Q: If young people want to join, is there a requirement that they should be interested in the aesthetic elements of the movie industry or can anybody just join? What are the criteria?
A: I have been with Prime Focus for 14 years and have also recruited for various departments and critical projects. I have come across various types of resources in my entire recruitment experience over the years. We look for talent who are minimum SSC cleared with some basic computer knowledge; education is important but it’s also just a criterion in our field of work. Our constant endeavour is to look for fresh talent and provide learning and working opportunities for those who are focused, patient and have the zeal to do things differently.
Over the years we’ve built a strong training team and a superb training model for people with / without basic creative knowledge and for people with special abilities as well. We have tried and experimented with this content at multiple levels. We have also developed an Aptitude test based on our experience and understanding of the business. The test has very simple logic and objective type questions ranging from assessing analytical skills to technical skills to creative skills so that we know the aptitude of the individual and what they may be inclined towards.
When I started with Prime Focus, in 2004, we were just about 135 odd people in the company overall. Today we have grown to almost 10000+ people and believe me we are still growing. Interestingly, almost every artist out there in the industry or should I say at least 50% to 60% of the artists out there in the Indian Post Production, VFX, Animation and Stereo Conversion Industry across India, would would have had some or the other learning or experience of working with PF and then moved out to into the industry to some other company or even started something on their own.
Q: Mention some of the movie production companies where they get jobs after getting trained.
A: Besides Prime Focus VFX in Mumbai and Hyderabad, DNEG Stereo in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Mohali and Goa; DNEG VFX in Mumbai and Chennai, there’s also Maya Digital, Assemblage, 88 Pictures, Famous Studios, RedChillies, YashRaj Films, NY VFX are all located in Mumbai, there’s Stereo-D, Deluxe, Anibrain, Method, FrameStore and Legend in Pune; MPC, Technicolor and DreamWorks in Bangalore; Green Gold Animation, Mukuta VFX, Digital Domain, DQ Films in Hyderabad to name a few!
The Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) businesses in India as an Industry have come a long way from where they were a couple of years ago to where they are now, and from where I see it, it is only going to grow exponentially in the coming years. Moreover, in the coming days we will also see a huge demand for vocationally skilled workforce, this demand is already there and there is a shortage in the supply chain of trained individuals. This is really happening and it is only going to grow multifold, considering there is more and more domestic and international work flowing.