Print This Post

Offshoring Hollywood?

I looked at the prospect of hiring some off-shore programmers to handle a few items for this site. From a cost standpoint, the cost savings were a tempting lure for a small site like Metue, especially in comparison to hiring programmers locally in Silicon Valley.  Ultimately I did all but a couple tiny things myself.  For me, I saw it as an opportunity to get my hands dirty and learn more about web development. My tasks were also not that complicated.

If I had a big project, or needed more specialized services – and if I had the means to manage the workflow effectively (something not as easily done with a single project freelancer) I’d seriously consider using programming services overseas – India, Eastern Europe etc.  

On the heals of my experience, I wasn’t surprised when I saw news that Sony’s Special Effects and animation arm, Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) is expanding to far beyond it’s Culver City campus’ geography.

hollywood outsourcing imageSPI acquired a 51 percent equity stake in Chennai India based effects and animation studio FrameFlow.  FrameFlow will change its name to Imageworks India and will work together with Sony Pictures Imageworks’ facility in Culver City, California.

In a situation not unusual with Hollywood development partnerships, the two companies dated for a while before their engagement.  Three year old FrameFlow previously worked with Sony Pictures Imageworks on special effects for movies Click, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man 3.  That paved the way for this deal.  SPI executive vice president Jenny Fulle, who now adds the title of co-managing director of Imageworks India said of the relationship: "The level of professionalism and quality of work that we experienced in working with the FrameFlow team was exemplary, and gave us the confidence to extend and establish a strong long term relationship."

With the deal signed, workflow for Frameflow is projected to more than triple.  The company plans to relocate to a larger office capable of holding 300 people. Currently the company has only 80 employees.

As an investor, deals like this make me want to carefully look at collaboration software developers and service providers. Their businesses can only grow. (Webex anyone?).

As I began in this post, the cost benefits of mixing foreign and domestic talent are hard to overlook.  The challenge is management from afar: time zones, culture, morale, etc.  It may not be as easy in practice to implement possibilities that marry overseas cost savings with effect project management and creative development but efforts to try are probably going to be increasingly common.

With Imagi in Asia, now Imageworks India,  the Lucas Arts (Industrial Light and Magic) campus in San Francisco’s Presidio – the technology of effects and animation are spreading around the globe.

Comments are closed.