Investors set sights on Cebu as animation hub

·4 min read

CEBU as a potential creative entertainment hub is getting positive responses from potential investors, citing the island’s rich supply of skilled talents as its biggest asset.

Brian Rausch, chief executive officer and founder of House Moves, said he wants to bring the “Hollywood” level of motion capture and virtual production technology to the Philippines. He desired to set up a motion capture facility in Cebu.

He said the Philippines has the creative talent to get this done and that the country should grab this opportunity to have this technology brought here.

Otherwise, Rausch said the country will “miss the boat.”

The House of Moves is one of the world’s leading motion capture and virtual production studios, which has done several AAA game titles and Hollywood blockbusters. Its works include Resident Evil 7, Titanic, Marvel’s Ant Man, Spiderman: Far from Home, and others.

“The talent and skills that are already in Cebu makes it ready for the next step,” added Marla Rausch, chief executive officer and president of Animation Vertigo, during the one-day virtual Animation Forum of the Creative Entertainment Week.

Established over 10 years ago, Animation Vertigo is a leader in motion capture tracking, editing and animation outsourcing. It provides high quality motion capture data to some of the biggest publishers, developers and animation companies in North America and in Europe.

“It might be baby steps for you, but technology is fast and we all have to use it. I think this is something that is needed, necessary because we don’t want to be left behind,” Rausch said.

She stressed that Cebu needs to act now to be able to access the animation market.

“The pandemic brings one big thing. And that is we are all on equal footing. Everybody is trying to get back on its feet. So, let’s not wait,” Rausch added.

However, she noted that it would take people working together to be able to achieve this. “It takes studios, students and professionals so we can come together and create this creative hub in the Philippines.”

Site for expansion

Moreover, Nestor Palabrica, vice president of Toei Animation Philippines Inc., said the company is considering Cebu as a site for expansion of its operation and production.

“We have plans to expand outside of Manila. If that will be materialized, we cannot think of any other place than Cebu,” Palabrica said. “Cebu is teeming with talents.”

Toei Philippines started as a joint venture between construction company Engineering Equipment Inc. and Toei Animation Co. Ltd of Japan and, eventually became the latter’s wholly owned subsidiary. It is now doing 70 to 80 percent of Toei’s production work.

He said local animation companies could also partner with Japanese firms as long as they find the right partner.

“Aside from having passionate people, it’s also important that you find the right partner. I know there are many Japanese studios who would like to have partnership with local studios here. What they just want to be assured of is that their partner has the quality they require and can perform at the level they expect,” Palabrica said.

Juan Miguel del Rosario, president of Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (Acpi) and Toon City (Morph Animation Inc.), said the Filipinos have what it takes to excel in this space.

DNA

“It’s really in the DNA of Filipinos to produce world-class artistry. I’m very, very proud of that. This is the reason why, we, at Acpi, are advocating countryside development of animation studios. We want studios to go outside of Manila because we want to say that Manila does not have the monopoly of artistic capability,” del Rosario pointed out.

He also said Japan is eyeing the Philippines as potential partner in anime production.

“There has been a study made by them about the potential of the Philippines working for Japanese anime. And there’s none of that in Manila, except for TOEI Philippines. Let’s make Cebu the anime capital of Asia,” he said.

Even during the onset of the coronavirus, the global demand for animators continues to rise and the Philippines is one of the countries in Asia that serves as an outsourcing center for animation companies.

The global demand in the anime market continues to rise with an estimated annual increase of US$1.73 billion, according to CCCI president Felix Taguiam.

Partnership

Taguiam this immense opportunity should push the country to strengthen its ways to support the animators. CCCI has also partnered with the Acpi to support more creatives.

“We seek to build not just an ecosystem for our local talents in Cebu, but also to bring about mechanisms in shaping a feasible creative media fund for them to kick-start productions. We are also actively initiating collaborations with national organizations for artists as well as backing our government on their programs for the creative industry,” said Mike Cubos, CCCI’s vice president for business mobilization.

CCCI vice president for business development and management services division Jay Yuvallos said the chamber’s partnership with Acpi will allow both to growth the areas of animation development, animation service work and animation IP development to make Cebu a major hub for the animation industry and its allied fields. (KOC)

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