Friday, December 9, 2011

Local Animators Urged to Hone Skills for the Trillion Dollar International Industry

Jamaican animators have been encouraged to take steps to increase the capacity and capabilities of the local industry and to explore opportunities in international film markets. This suggestion came from James Parris and Kirstin Solid, two award winning animators, as part of discussions on Jamaica’s potential as a major animation outsourcing locale.  Parris and Solid were special guest presenters at the Flow sponsored Animae Caribe Film Festival which took place recently at JAMPRO in Kingston.

James Parris, a member of the Academy Award winning visual effects team for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button believes that building a body of skilled professionals is very important for the development of the local industry. “Small studios can build their repertoire by bidding on small segments of major films and other smaller projects,” he said, highlighting the opportunity for Jamaican animators in international markets.

Kristin Solid, Animation Supervisor at the Academy Award winning Rhythm and Hues has worked as a Senior Animator on popular and award winning feature films such as King Kong, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman. She confirms that there are possibilities for the local industry to benefit from the trillion dollar animation market in North America. Citing the example of the Summer 2012 release, she said that animations for Snow White and the Huntsman, were created equally between Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver and Los Angeles. “While there may still be the same number of jobs available, they’re not all in L.A., which might be a good thing for Jamaica,” Ms. Solid said, remarking that the island’s proximity to the U.S. is an advantage. Though Hollywood remains the epicenter of the film industry, much work is being outsourced to other countries such as Korea, India, and Vancouver.
Having amassed extensive experience in the animation industry, Parris and Solid urged Jamaican animators to use their individual development as the driving force for the overall growth of the local industry. Parris explained that to be successful, the learning processes must be continual, “I am still an aspiring animator. I am still a student of life. To me, animation is nothing but regurgitating the stuff that you see all the time,” he said. “You have to absorb life, see how everything around you moves and demonstrate the meaning of a movement.” The visual expert explained that understanding the meaning behind movement separates professionals from amateurs.

Solid complemented this advice encouraging those seeking employment from major studios to create a show-reel featuring their best work “All we care about is that one minute that you show us on your demo-reel,” she said, explaining that performance is valued even over academic references in the elite sector.

Both presenters underscored that entry into a major studio would more than likely mean starting from the bottom with internships being a main entry route. The suggested that aspiring animators must learn even from rejection, and seek to improve skills and maximize opportunities to work with other professionals.

Michael Look Tong, Media Services Director at Flow reiterated his company’s commitment to helping to enhance the performance of the industry. “This partnership with Anime Caribe is very important to us at Flow as it provides another opportunity for us to assist the development of the local production sector,” he said.

Look Tong said that Flow had heeded the call from local producers for additional platforms to showcase local content. The result has been two-fold with the development of FlowTV, which is almost solely dedicated to local content, and Flow OnDemand, which currently airs Jamaica’s first animated series, Cabbie Chronicles, one of its most successful local programmes.

Jamaicans have already made their mark on the international animation scene. At other Animae Caribe festivals in Trinidad, Adrian Lopez of Liquid Light won the BWIA Award for most Outstanding Animation while Allison Latchman was the winner of the DEW Best Caribbean Animation Award for Cabbie Chronicles in 2010. The work of Ian Gooding as Art Director on the Walt Disney feature The Princess and the Frog was nominated for an Annie (the Oscars of Animation). Craig Lyn is an Emmy award winning visual effects specialist whose work has been seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The Animae Caribe Jamaica event was a satellite festival to the 10th anniversary Animae Caribe held in Trinidad in October. Anime Caribe Jamaica was sponsored by Flow and JAMPRO.
Disney Animator James Parris with Jeanette Lewis of Flow

Oscar Award Winning Animator James Parris raps with two local Animators

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