Future looks increasingly bright for SA animators
|Issued by: Boston City Campus|
[Johannesburg, 5 October 2016]
Animation has moved way beyond your daily television cartoons and fairy-tale inspired animated movies. Nowadays, it is also used in video game design and production, advertising, 3D printing, prototyping, e-learning and simulated learning, and offers good career and job prospects, says Mahendra Naidoo.
Naidoo is a 3D illustrator and head of department of 3D animation at Boston Media House, Sandton.
"I don't hesitate when it comes to recommending animation as a career," he says. "There is a demand for animation skills locally and internationally, though this demand is obviously dependent on factors like infrastructure, innovation, economic growth and government support."
Naidoo is unashamedly passionate about animation – not only does he lecture animation, but animation is also his hobby.
"Choosing animation was quite simple for me – it is clearly my calling," he says. "While growing up, I was obsessed with movies, anime, video games and toys. Animation seems like the only field that allows me to be part of those obsessions as I grow older. I'm like an adult teenager, often to the amusement of my family and friends. I think I am privileged to be able to do what I love, and love what I do for a living."
South Africa's industry may be relatively small, but it is big enough to provide jobs, Naidoo points out. The local animation industry is getting a fair share of attention from France and the United Kingdom. There are lots of amazing stories and developments happening in the industry at present and South African work is enjoying the limelight – from graphic novels (Kariba by Blue Forrest Collective) to TV series (Silly Seasons created by Flying Circus), animated short film (Le Cristal Winner Stick Man, produced by Magic Light Pictures (UK) and animated by Triggerfish (SA) ) and video game development (Broforce by Free Lives Games).
"Let's not forget that the SABC wants much more local content and the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the National Film and Video Foundation are at present showing more interest in this sector," says Naidoo. "I am certain the future has great things in store for us; the opportunities look very promising to animators who are talented, have good communication skills and work well with a team."
The good news is that you don't need a degree in computer science or any formal art qualification (this includes art at school) to enrol for studies in animation at Boston Media House. Being passionate about drawing and animation does, however, help considerably
"My observation is that students who improve their artistic skills develop better in the 3D realm," Naidoo explains. "Of course, there are technical areas in which you can specialise, but ultimately, the end product in most cases is something visual that demands an eye for visual appeal. Traditional art principles and a ‘good eye' utilise skill-sets that can be applied to producing 3D content."
Boston Media House offers training in animation that has a strong focus on concept design and illustration as well as 3D animation. According to Naidoo, it's rare to find a curriculum in South Africa that caters for both skill-sets throughout three years of study, as Boston's diploma in media practices does. The two subjects, art drawing and animation, complement each other and constantly reinforce knowledge areas throughout Boston's diploma that specialises in animation.
Other subjects that students take as part of the animation stream within the diploma programme include professional skills, entrepreneurship, television production and digital media convergence. The skills learned in these other subjects are highly transferable and useful in terms of preparing animators for the world of work.