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Reliance MediaWorks eyes more growth in UK visual effects business

New CEO Venkatesh Roddam wants to further expand Reliance’s global reach.

In 2010, Reliance MediaWorks, the media arm of Mumbai-based conglomerate Reliance Group, acquired Soho-based film processing facility, ilab UK, Ltd. They added 5,000 square feet to the facility and it has become a significant provider of post-production services, including processing, restoration, and 3D conversion. The Reliance UK team comprises roughly 80 people and plans for expansion are in the works. Reliance MediaWorks also operates BIG Cinemas, India’s largest cinema chain and in 2008 the company purchased LA-based film restoration lab, Lowry Digital. 

New CEO Venkatesh Roddam, joined the company this January. Roddam spent 20 years in global banking, in Europe and the Middle East, with a decade spent as a managing director of Deutsche Bank. He has hit the ground running and plans to continue expanding Reliance MediaWorks global presence.

Roddam observes that now ubiquitous, reliable high-speed networks have been key to Reliance’s global strategy. “What we thought was inconceivable only a few years ago, visual effects being easily redistributed across the globe, we’re seeing happen very effectively today. We now have a secure and dependable connectivity which now linking our offices back in India, the UK and Los Angeles. But the leadership position as far as visual effects is concerned is our team in the UK.” About half of Reliance’s business comes from India, the other half from international sources, mostly the US and UK.

“The UK continues to grow as a very strategic location for us, particularly from the perspective of visual effects and restoration,” Roddam tells Screen. “And it’s a location we’ve continued to invest in fairly heavily in the last year or so. For this industry the UK is a ‘must’ destination.”

Roddam notes that the UK offices are usually the focal point for the end customer with the US and Indian offices supporting. “A lot of this is driven by customer comfort.”

“This is not any longer about an India off-shoring story or China off-shoring story. It becomes about where are the customers most comfortable getting work done and where the skillset actually exists. A combination of these is what will drive our strategy. We also might be looking at markets like Canada in the future. But for the next twelve months or so, our focus is going to be to grow our teams for visual effects in the UK, and in the US our visual effects, restoration and conversion businesses. And the Indian engine continues to provide back-end support for these units.”

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