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KingstOOn Animation Festival and GG’s “I Believe in Jamaica” Animation Training – Genesis of Animation Outsourcing

“What has happened this week, is just indicating to us that we are at the very foothills of Animation in Jamaica. I am told that the industry is a US$200 billion business and growing and so there is this large pie and we feel that we should get in and get a piece of the pie and use that to help us here in Jamaica to develop and be a part of that global experience that is taking place”

Excerpts from comments by His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen commenting on Animation Awards Ceremony held on June 28 at the University of Technology (UTech) campus, St. Andrew.

The Jamaican Government is now crazy about Cartoons ever since KingstOOn, the two (2) day Animation Conference and Festival held at the UWI Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre in Kingston, Jamaica on June 20th-21st, 2013.

kingstoon_logo

This is how the man on the street greets the most recent news of the His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen support for the idea of High School leavers getting into Animation. His Charity organization, the “I Believe Initiative” has gotten in on the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) thrust into the Animation outsourcing business by sponsoring 15 Visual Arts Students from the County of Surrey on Wednesday July 10th 2013.

The first batch of 15 participants, who all hail from St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas, were part of a pilot five (5) day intensive Animation Training Program at UTECH. This Animation Training is the result of talks between Sir Patrick Allen Charity organization, the “I Believe Initiative” and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ToonBoom, Joan Vogelesang, whose company will be providing the information for International Certification and Training Certification for talented Visual Arts Students.

The five (5) Day Animation Certification involves all the major Universities, Colleges and Animation Companies both locally and abroad, with the Computing Facilities at these locations being used free of Cost:

  1. University of the West Indies

  2. University of Technology

  3. Northern Caribbean University

  4. GSW Reel Rock Animations

  5. Montreal-based ToonBoom Animation

So far there has been three (3) such one (1) week intensive Animation Training Programs as slated below:

  1. July 15th to19th 2013 at the Northern Caribbean University for participants from Middlesex County

  2. July 21st to 26th 2013 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay participants from Cornwall County

The most recent one kicked off on Monday July 22nd 2013 with CARIMAC (Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication) providing their Training facilities at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay. The youngsters, all Visual Arts students, receive along with their certificates of Participation licenses and software for ToonBoom.

Wow, all this just to get a slice of the Global Revenue for Animation Outsourcing, which is value at some US$200 billion and has a yearly growth rate of US$1 billion per year. Based on the comments of Minister of Industry and Commerce Anthony Hylton on Friday June 21st 2013, it may be a means of jumpstarting entrepreneurship in Jamaica. He repeated similar sentiments at the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Montego Bay Conference Centre on Monday June 17th 2013.

Believe it or not this isn’t a flash-in-the-pan GOJ idea resulting from yet another Conference. This is the ongoing outcome of the KingstOOn Animation Conference and Festival. The GOJ, specifically the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining had signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) since Friday June 7th 2013 to promote Animation as an entrepreneurial and even Career among  Teens (13 to 18) and Millennials (18 to 28) identified with a talent for the Visual Arts.

Basically, KingstOOn Animation Conference and Festival was the Rising Stars for Animation and it’s hoped that next year, it’ll have the added dimension of Television. KingstOOn Animation Conference and Festival was jointly funded by the following interested stakeholders:

  1. World Bank

  2. The Canadian High Commission

  3. JAMPRO

Just like Digicel Rising Stars, the KingstOOn Animation Conference and Festival saw some one hundred and thirty five (135) entries submitted by various Animation teams and individuals. Winners vied for must-have prices desired by the Animation Debutante:

  1. Scholarship for the Summer Animation Programme at Sheridan College in Canada

  2. Internships at Columbus Communications and other sponsors

  3. ToonBoom Software licenses, allowing aspirants with the correct computer hardware and software to make legit Animation with licensed ToonBoom Software

The comparison to Digicel Rising Stars doesn’t stop there. And yes just like you I’m surprised Digicel was nowhere to be seen as the major sponsor for KingstOOn Animation Conference and Festival, given their support for Animation in their filler advertisements for the Show. By that I’m referring to the current severe shortage of Animation talent in Jamaica, with the local Animation Studios constantly demanding form UTECH some specialized Training or even Degree Programs in Animation.

The Various Techniques for Animation means, literally, you can have either:

  1. Specialist Degree Programs for the various types of Animation

  2. General Animation Degree, making such a person’s suitable for Animation Studio Management

This is somewhat akin to Medical Sciences and Engineering Degrees, which take several years to achieve and hours rolling into years of Man-hours of Practical experience in the following Animation techniques:

  1. Traditional Cel Animation

  2. Still Animation e.g. for Newspapers, periodicals, etc

  3. Japanese Anime and Manga

  4. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) Animation

  5. Mixed-Media Animation e.g. Clay Animation, Stop-and-Go Animation, etc

And you thought Visual Arts people were empty-headed Artsy types. Their field is a cross-road between Engineering and Visual Arts and is a profession as lucrative and difficult, demanding much time, patience and energy of the Animator. And Animation is by no means restricted to just Cartoons, as they need animators with talent to be outsourced for:

  1. Architectural  Rendering

  2. Games and App Design

  3. Advertisements

  4. Educational

In fact, most of Jamaica’s Animation for both Private and Public Sector is handled by either of three (3) studios on contract for various Clients. These three (3) major Animators in Jamaica are:

  1. Alcyone, which makes the Cabbie Chronicles

  2. Reel Rock GSW

  3. SkyRes Studios Limited

Now not only is it a full-fledged profession in need of its own Training resources and Degree Certification, but its first batch of Graduates will be in VERY high demand for the foresable future. This is on a level akin to BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) or Call Centers as described in Convergys heralds Age of Empire for Call Centers and Jamaica’s Adoption of Flexi-Work and Tele-Working.

The Tools needed for Animation are very basic: A good Dual or Quad-Core Computer with plenty of RAM (at least 8GB) and 1TB Hard-drive as described in my article AMD unveils 5GHz and 4.7Ghz 8-Core Processor at E3 2013 in Apple’s Mac Pro Dogfight for Top Gun in High End Multi-Core PC Gaming.

A good dedicated Team of ten (10) or more or more of your best friends are all you need, with the work subdivided among them as it relates to the same skills being taught by the five (5) day intensive Animation Training initiated by Sir Patrick Allen’s “I Believe Initiative”:

  1. Squashing, stretching, key framing, networking, lip syncing

  2. How to develop animated characters

  3. Storyboarding

  4. Basic Methods of Animation

  5. Short and Feature Film Animation Planning

In Jamaica the BPO Sector employs some fourteen thousand (14,000) and is set to grow as more business shift our way due to the rapid Growth of China and the evolution of the Working World in Far East Asia, the BPO Kings, towards higher paying Jobs. Jamaica is thus in a VERY favorable position as it relates to taking on the added challenge of any form of extra outsourcing as we have the following advantages:

  1. Our propensity to speak English and the ability to be trained to speak the various accents of Americans and Canadians, making communicating ideas and Projects easier

  2. Geographic closeness making travel and visits by the Client that much easier

  3. Interconnectivity to High Speed Fiber Optic Gateways as noted in Kelroy’s article Undersea Cables keep the Caribbean connected to the World Wide Web, which facilitates Real-time Collaboration

  4. Shared Time Zone which allow for real-time collaboration

To this end, Animation Outsourcing represents a sizeable amount of taxable revenue for the GOJ and thus makes sense for the Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Julian Robinson to take an interest in harnessing Animation Skills as a whole from the rich and diverse pool of Visual Arts Talent in Jamaica and then using these trained individuals to jump-Start Animation Outsourcing for both Local and International Clients.

So this five (5) day intensive Animation Training initiated by Sir Patrick Allen’s “I Believe Initiative” is a step in the right direction. As time goes by, more Private Sector as well as Public Sector Companies may begin to invest in the Sector as an area of Growth.

In the words of Porky Pig from Warner Brothers, “That’s all folks!” More to come as this exciting field pollinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining gives hope to many Visual Arts Students! These talented youngsters who otherwise though themselves as mere cartoonists are now realizing that they are budding Animators worth at least US$200 billion!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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One Response to "KingstOOn Animation Festival and GG’s “I Believe in Jamaica” Animation Training – Genesis of Animation Outsourcing"

  1. Sigh says:

    And after all this is done, we shall then hear the gvt promoting export of animators to Canada. Export teachers, nurses, truck drivers.. and animators! Our gvt is an agency of the Canadian gvt. So much for political independence and nation building. Nothing but a policy of brain drain and the destruction of the Jamaican economy. Economic slavery. Say it aint so.

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