Coronavirus outbreak: How are Indian VFX & Animation studios fighting the threat of coronavirus

The novel coronavirus epidemic that started in Wuhan, China has managed to wreak havoc globally, turning the current situation into a global pandemic. Having affected various aspects of life, the virus has largely hampered the AVGC industry worldwide.

Internationally, coronavirus has called off dozens of annual festivals and events, and now Indian events have started getting cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak. The first case of coronavirus infection was recorded at a live meat market in Wuhan, China, in December and since then it has spread to more than 100 countries.

There has been an increase in the infected cases in India, making it necessary to take every safety measure possible. With mass gatherings cancelled along with malls and theatres being shut down to avoid the spread, the economy is sure to get hampered.

We spoke to few animation and VFX studios to know how the conditions at their working space are and what precautionary measures are being taken by them to avoid panicking situations and spread of the virus.

Assemblage Entertainment strategy and new business development head Arjun Madhavan said, “At this stage we are focusing on basic hygiene. Our advice to everyone would be that self-care and self-hygiene should remain the focus and there is absolutely no reason to panic or fear under these circumstances.”

The studio has opted for stringent self-hygiene and self-precautionary measures which includes:

  • Advising the team to constantly ensure that hands are being washed, sanitized.
  • Making use of handkerchiefs and tissues while coughing/sneezing
  • Maintaining limited physical contact, and in the event of a feeling of illness to highlight this immediately and if required, take a leave of absence and stay at home
  • Office and studio is being sanitized constantly and on a daily basis with disinfectants and a deep cleansing of the office infrastructure

“Preventive measures are the only way we can continue to focus on containing the spread and it is essential that every member of the team observes these basic practices. We are monitoring these closely and keeping a keen eye on the overall health of our team,” Madhavan added.

Toonz Animation, based in Trivandrum, Karnataka are also managing to take various precautionary steps, taking into consideration the intensity of COVID-19 outbreak all over the world.

  • Educating and creating awareness within the employees, ensuring workplace hygiene by insisting them to use hand sanitizers or to wash their hands frequently
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, avoid giving handshakes
  • Issuing travel restrictions, setting clear guidelines, promoting teleworking across our organization
  • Cancelling formal public events
  • Dropping the biometric punching system
  • Wiping furniture, office equipment with disinfectant lotion at regular intervals

Toonz Animation India executive secretary to CEO Sonam Gerry mentioned, “Our business has not been affected much as we do not have any cases reported positive from our studio. But we never know what will happen tomorrow. It is really sad to hear about new cases being reported from every part of the world. We at Toonz, pray and hope that some vaccines or medicines/ treatment is found for COVID-19 so that the world can come out from this huge crisis.”

Aum Animation Studio had a meeting last Monday to plan for the worst and also to take precautions. Founder Vivek Bolar shared the measures being implemented at their studio:

  • The biometric fingerprint entry and exit is changed to swiping cards to minimise physical contact.
  • Have stocked masks ( both N95 and surgical ), hand sanitisers, handwash and other essentials.
  • Instructed each one of them to wash their hands thoroughly before entering their cubicle.
  • In a worst case scenario  IT teams have worked out a parallel pipeline wherein artists can work remotely. We can deploy the pipeline in an hours notice.
  • We also have Yoga sessions daily in the morning focusing majorly on breathing exercises as this virus affects lungs the most.
  • Staying where you are and avoiding public places as much as possible will reduce the virus from spreading. 90 per cent of our team members are from Mangalore and we have advised our artists to cancel any travel outside of mangalore.

“As of now the crisis has not affected our operations. Worst case scenario we might be behind schedule due to closure but I am confident that my team will make up for it once it becomes normal. Our priority now is the health and safety of our artists,” added Bolar.

Pixel Digital Studio is also taking the necessary precautions to stay safe during this pandemic. “It’s time we all be educated about the do’s and don’ts for it. Our operations team have been instructed and briefed about precautionary and preventive measures that have to be practised,” stated Pixel Digital Studio head of operations Pushpa Koshal.

  • The studio management ensures to offer a clean, hygienic working experience to all their employees.
  • All house-keeping facilities are being carried out to maintain a clean environment inside the studio.
  • Hand sanitizers have been placed at multiple locations inside the studios for safety purposes.
  • Ensure to maintain a clean and hygienic cafeteria and lobby where people want to spend free time.
  • All touch points are being frequently sanitised and cleaned.
  • Employees have been informed to get check up done in case they are showing the mildest of symptoms.

“We hereby adhere to follow all government norms for all our employees.We at pixel d Studios promise to deliver a safe working experience,” added Koshal.

One Life Studios has taken several measures to ensure safety from the threat of the outbreak. One Life Studios business head Summit Jaiswal opines that there is no playbook with any one for this virus. As the world prepares itself for the impact of the deadly virus, it is time we realise that spreading panic is not going to help. He adds, “This is why it is important to stick to the basics and practise basic precautionary measures against the spread of this virus.”

Below are some basic precautions which they have already implemented for the safety of their employees, clients and visitors:

  • Disinfecting the building’s elevator handles, buttons which may cause risk, the possibility of being transferred due to the hands of an infected person.
  • Infrared Thermometer security check before entering the office premises for everyone to be sure and confirm the person’s body temperature is normal.
  •  Sanitisation of hands before entering the office.
  • Disinfecting all the workstation desks, tables, cabins, handles, knobs, kitchen and washroom area etc at regular intervals during the day
  • Disposable tissues available for all the employees to wipe their hands and the machines which they are using like the mouse and keyboards
  • Using N95 respiratory masks when moving in the office premises to prevent the spread of a virus.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers available inside the office premises for all the employees.

NYVFXWAALA Studios also have been forthcoming in their precautionary approach with respect to the studio operations. “We have decided to discontinue the use of fingerprints while using Biometric machine. Everyone is asked use i-cards instead. We have distributed masks to all the employees and encouraged the use of alcohol-bases sanitiser which have been made available to them, ” shared NYVFXWAALA business head Yogesh Chagg.

To take precautionary measures against Coronavirus they have put plenty of regulations in place which are as follows :-

  • Alcohol based Hand sanitizers available inside the office premises for all the employees.
  •  We are also registering body temperatures using infrared thermometers as a part of protocol along with other guidelines as suggested by the Government bodies.
  • After Studio, one of the prominent studios based in the city of Mumbai, is also dealing with Coronavirus concerns proactively. “It is always better to take precautions,” shares After Studio team.

Here are the precautionary measures they have put in place at their studios :-

  • Hand sanitizers available inside the office for all the employees
  • After studios have provided masks for all their employees.
  • We are making sure everyone is wearing masks from the top management people to the office boys.
  • While entering the studios, visitors are asked to clean their hands with sanitizer, and it is a compulsion for them.
  • All the employees are asked to check their temperature while they enter inside the studios.―Animation Xpress
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