Working Rayi Christian Wicaksono

Over the past few years India has become a major player in the outsourcing of services from big businesses here in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. makes up about 70% of the global outsourcing market.1 (I’m guessing the U.K. makes up most of the other 30%).

Animation is just one of the services being outsourced. Companies such as Sony, Imax, Warner Brothers, and yes even Walt Disney, are having many of their animation projects completed overseas. And guess what? Big pharma and medical equipment manufacturers have caught on. If companies can outsource regular animation, then why not outsource medical animation?

Medical animation is expensive. A single animation can cost $60,000 and take months to produce. In India, the same animation can be done in half the time at a quarter of the price.

Here’s a little comparative stat. A software designer in the U.S has an average earning of $60 per hour. In India, a comparable software designer makes only $6.00 per hour.1

However, animation studios in India don’t charge by the hour like they do in the U.S. That’s why they can run 24 hour studios employing many animators working around the clock to complete a project.

Cheaper rates for the same work are what are driving the desire to outsource. According to the Hindu Business Line2

The global non-entertainment animation industry, including work in scientific and medical animation, now accounts for revenues worth $15 billion.

With that number in mind, demand for skilled animators in India is growing. The Toonskool Animation Academy in Bangalore is one such school training future animators and medical animators. And there are numerous firms in India dedicated to creating medical animation and illustration. And it’s not just India. The Philippines, China, Russia, and Egypt are just a few out of many others competing to get U.S. outsourcing projects.

With the benefits of outsourcing come the associated risks. Businesses must be careful to send critical inside information to places halfway around the world. There are security issues. Egypt has a harder time competing for outsourcing due to conflicts and instability in their region. There is also a lack of intellectual property laws in most of these countries.

So the question then becomes, will outsourcing hurt medical illustrators and animators? Probably not. But in the near future it just might. With medical animations becoming more dynamic and complex and with demand growing in both the educational and research markets, outsourcing may become a viable option for companies. What do you think? Are we in danger of losing jobs to a cheaper workforce capable of providing services in a shorter amount of time?

1. Greene, W. (2006) Growth in services outsourcing to India: Propellant or drain on the U.S. economy?, Office of Economics Working Paper. U.S. International Trade Commission.
2. Prayag, A. (2005) Medical animation gaining importance. Hindu Business Line