By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

ANIMATION studio Toon City saw an estimated 28% drop in productivity during the quarantine while some artists working from home deal with unstable Internet connection.

Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI) President and Toon City Chief Executive Officer Juan Miguel del Rosario in a webinar organized by the Trade department on Wednesday said that the industry saw production delays due to longer upload times and disrupted feedback methods.

The Philippines is an outsourcing hub for animation studios based in the United States.

Citing examples, Mr. Del Rosario said a particular employee saw 12% more output during the quarantine, but another saw a 53% decline due to a lack of stable broadband and equipment in his home.

The data are based on the average weekly output of the top 20 employees, not the entire workforce. Their output puts productivity at 72% during the lockdown, compared with those in January and February 2020.

“Essentially, the reason behind this is work-from-home is still not yet an ideal place as far as we’re concerned,” Mr. Del Rosario said.

“Workplace methods and routines of artists and directors [undergo] rapid change. This is very difficult because before, you can just go to an artist and say ‘pare, nagawa mo na ba ‘yan? (pal, have you done that?)’ Now you have to text or you have to e-mail or you have to wait for the response, so that delay is affecting turnaround time.”

He said that the upload of “enormous” files sometimes takes days.

Mr. Del Rosario in a separate e-mail said most local and foreign studios are at about 70% work-from-home operations.

“The Philippines cannot be competitive with weak internet infrastructure. With those kinds of lagging we cannot afford to host webinars for the global audience. The pandemic has accelerated the need to be digitally and online savvy.”

Mr. Del Rosario explained that the 72% productivity mirrors that of the overall outsourcing industry and is similar to that of the animation industry in other countries during the pandemic.

The company’s output payroll fell significantly in April before seeing slight recovery the next month. Output payroll, which was above P1.7 million on March 20 fell below P380,000 by April 3. This consistently grew again, reaching P1.14 million by June 19.

Looking at opportunities during the lockdown, Mr. Del Rosario said that many animated series continue to be in production under work-from-home operations, including those from Warner Brothers Animation.

He added that marketing companies that previously relied on live-action filming are now open to trying animation. Drama shows, he said, will likely postpone shooting scenes that involve crowds, action sequences, or international travel — increasing animation demand.