By CityLife Arts Writer
Budding South African animator Kearabetswe Moumakwe has won an Ada Animation of the Year Award at their awards ceremony on December 9, 2021 hosted in conjunction with the Kenya Film Commission.
A Kenyan-based studio with a growing African footprint, Ada Animation was founded on the desire to tell African stories and the completion of the recent programme has proven how possible this dream is. With a growing cohort of trainee animators from across Africa, and a team of six internationally acclaimed animators, Ada Animation’s Bootcamp Training is a first for Kenya and one of the only capacity building animation programmes on the continent.
“It is a delight for Ada Animation to be a pacesetter in Africa’s growing animation industry by executing Kenya’s first animation capacity building programme with great support from the Kenya Film Commission. The animation bootcamp sets us off on our mission to groom and grow animators through mentorship and in turn, build a dynamic animation industry for the African youth. We are also delighted to have our long-time friends from Hollywood and the bootcamp mentors travel from across the world to attend this year’s bootcamp cohort II graduation,” stated Joy Mwangi, CEO & Co-Founder Ada Animation.
Forty-five ambitious African animators from five countries responded to Ada Animation’s call for participants: namely from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Egypt. The four month programme commenced in September at the Adanian Lab Campus. Of the original 45 students, 33 students completed the course and submitted the 30sec Public Service Announcement group project. The top performers were celebrated at the networking event attended by local and international animators.
Thanks to Ada Animation’s invitation Animation SA was able to share the opportunity to their dynamic growing ecosystem of animators. “Animation SA is honoured to have been part of the Ada Animation initiative,” said Isabelle Rorke, Deputy Chair of Animation SA. “We believe that initiatives such as these are laying the foundations for the growth and improvement of the African animation industry. It has also been a great bridge to linking the only South African animation industry organisation with such an impressive studio in Kenya. We look forward to joining forces in the future and exploring more ways in which we can create social impact. I have already received a heartfelt message of gratitude and appreciation from Kearabetswe Moumakwe, one of the junior animators that were part of the training. She has informed me that it has given her the confidence to start her own animation studio. We are really grateful that a studio across the African continent joined hands with us to make such a great impact in the lives of a few of our members”.
As of 2020, the Global animation market was valued at $290 Billion; Africa contributes only 0.75% of this figure. Animation is an easy to acquire skill when well trained and job opportunities created for the creatives to continue harnessing and earning from their skills. Yet animation training and mentorship is non-existent in Kenya and in most places in Africa – South Africa being the only hotspot that offers such training at a high fee.
“Our aim is to build a thriving animation industry in Africa that will create employment for the youth and catalyse wealth creation opportunities. Our strategy plan being to develop top-tier animators in Kenya and across Africa by providing ambitious animators with the necessary skills, tools, mentorship and platforms to create and share African stories with Africa and the world. We were so motivated by the response to the programme, not just from Kenya but other countries as well,” said Joy Mwangi, CEO of Ada Animation.
Ada Animation currently have three studios in Kenya, UK and South Africa. They are the first studio to offer affordable short animation courses in Kenya, and one of the few in Africa. The Boot Camp cohorts were trained by key industry players in animation from around the world, including: Dean Lyon (USA), who has worked on films such as Lord of The Rings and Armageddon, and founder of Splinter Studios, Kevin Sharpley (USA), founder of Kijik Media Studios, Brad Beckham (USA), Irmak Atabek (Turkey), Dennis Mbuthia (Kenya), David Wyre (Kenya), Eric Musyoka (Kenya) and Jon Turner Founder of Kilogramme Studio. Joann Yarrow and Jason Erick won Female and Male Animation Mentor(s) of the year.
“Since inception, we have successfully managed to run two animation bootcamps for the participating trainees, who have all shown such tremendous growth in skill and market placement,” continued Mwangi.
The success of the first two bootcamps is driving Ada Animation’s next steps towards launching Africa’s first Animation Talent Resource portal, where the credible trainees will get market exposure to open jobs both locally and internationally and consistently be exposed to different revenue streams.
Also in the pipeline is the first ever video on demand platform that seeks to highlight, market, and bring traction to animation content originating from Africa. All trainees and other animators will benefit from this platform and can actively market their content and earn from each subscription acquired.
Ada Animation’s animators have also been busy in the studio – and are proud to be premiering their first episode of the kids TV series – Ethan Man, as well as continuing work on the movie trailer for The Last Laiboni (scheduled for release mid-February 2022).
“We turned one year in September 2021, and it has been a great year for Ada Animation! The potential impact of these initiatives on the African continent is slowly being realised“ concluded Mwangi.