Yes, one of the world’s best animation studio is in Manila. While Toon City may not be a staple name in the country, it is widely known in the international arena. Its President and CEO, Miguel Del Rosario tells adobo magazine, when he is introducing himself and the company abroad, they tell him “You don’t have to introduce yourself. We know you very well.”
The animation website “Game designing” released the list “The Top 50 Best Animation Studios in the World” to “help give aspiring animators an idea of the best places they could find themselves working at.” Toon City earned the top 22 spot in the list, along with Pixar (number 1) which is behind The Toy Story films and WALL-E among others, Walt Disney Animations (number 2) which worked on Frozen and Wreck-it Ralph, and DreamWorks Animation (number 3), which animated Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
This Manila pride is ranked near Sony Pictures (number 18) known for Spiderman 2, and is even ahead of other famous studios, like Pixomondo (number 23) which is behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Luma Pictures (Number 28), which worked for Avengers” Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Captain America among others.
From 10 to 400
Toon City’s tale began in 1993 with only 10 animators, when Disney needed to produce shows and had to outsource. Toon City exclusively produced cartoons for Disney until 2004. Then, this budding studio ventured into projects with Walt Disney Television Animation, Universal Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, MoonScoop Productions, etc.
Their works gave life to characters in Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Lilo and Stitch, Oggy and the Cockroaches, Rick and Morty, Kim Possible, Their masterpiece for “Curious George” won them an Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Animation. From ten animators, they now form a workforce of 400, creating wonders at a ten thousand square foot studio in Manila.
Adapting to changes
While its pool of talents expanded, Toon City also had to adapt to the ever-changing world. In 2012, Toon City shifted to digital. No papers, only computers. But this took a toll to some of their traditional artists, and so, they trained them to be able to produce the same quality of drawings they made on paper, on the screens.
Then, Toon City Academy was born — the only school for artists located within a studio. Senior artists in the company who have worked with international clients, hone more Filipino talents here. De Guzman says, there are no free lancers in toon city. All artists there are mostly regulars who “get their fare share” in the produce. “Artists are very simple. All they need is a safe place, to be treated best.”
Philippines as a creative powerhouse
Toon City’s achievements only prove the immense potential of Filipino artists for the global market. “This recognition comes at the very right time, because the government is listening now to the benefits of the creative economy. Testament that Filipinos, we can be a powerhouse in the creative field.”, says Del Rosario.
Del Rosario, who is also the President of the Animation Council of the Philippines, says there are over 6,000 local animators in the country. “This is FIlipino treasure, and we have to keep it. Because many are going to other countries, that was our view — the goal is to keep the FIlipino artists.”
To help equip Filipino animators with edge when it comes to the global market, Toon City Academy also partnered with the Departnment of Science and Technology for the “Industry-defined 2D Basic Animation Course”, which is a 12-week intensive basic animation workshop.
Toon City will continue to prove that the the Philippines is a creative powerhouse, which will take the animation world by storm, bearing their motto “We take fun seriously”.