Special effects outsourcing grows in India

 

Outsourcing to India, long dominated by software engineering and back-office work, is expanding in new terrain: special effects for movies.

India's rise comes at a difficult time for U.S. special effects outfits, some of which have buckled as the 2008 L.A. writers strike cut productions and the financial crisis curtailed financing. Executives in India say cost pressures are pushing studios to send more work to India, where special effects projects are up to 40 percent cheaper than in the U.S.

To be sure, Indian shops are, for now, minor players. Hollywood's special effects industry is still dominated by U.S. companies like Industrial Light & Magic. Production standards are generally lower in India, and many moviemakers still won't send creative work thousands of miles (kilometers) away.

But the distance between Hollywood and Bollywood is narrowing, and many say it's only a matter of time before the gap in skills, trust, and quality is closed. The domestic market is also maturing as Indian audiences develop a taste for high-tech Hindi flicks.

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