Triggerfish, German government launch online animation course for Africa’s youth

Ever wondered how Dragon Ball Z or the latest Pixar movie was animated? Africa’s leading animation studio, Triggerfish, is introducing aspiring African animators to the principles of animation and the tools they need to make their first short film with just a smartphone, an internet connection and some time to explore.

In partnership with the Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, Triggerfish has developed a step-by-step guide, accessible from the Academy tab of the website.

Aspiring animators can use this to learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on YouTube and send it to Triggerfish, who’ll be making the best animations and their creators famous across their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.

Animators must enter by Thursday, 31 January 2019 to be in the running to be named Africa’s Next Top Animator and to have their winning films screened at the most important event for the African animation industry – Cape Town International Animation Festival.

There are separate categories for animators under 13 and under 20, with additional ‘all ages’ prizes awarded for animation, character design, storyboarding and storytelling. The winners will receive mentorship from animation professionals working at Triggerfish. Films must be between 30 seconds and three minutes. Terms and conditions are on the website.

2018 has been a breakthrough year for animation in Africa. Revolting Rhymes, partly animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish for Magic Light Pictures, was nominated for an Oscar and won over 15 international awards, including an International Emmy; a BAFTA; the Cristal at Annecy; Best Animated Special at the Annie Awards and Best One-Off Special at Kidscreen. The Highway Rat, animated by Triggerfish for Magic Light, won the Children and Youth category at Rose d’Or and the Audience Award for three to six-year-olds at The New York International Children’s film Festival. Belly Flop, produced at Triggerfish, screened during the closing ceremony of Annecy, the world’s top animation festival, and won seven international awards, including the +6 category at Giffoni Film Festival.  NickToons debuted two South African series: Munki and Trunk from Sunrise Productions and Moosebox from Mike Scott and Mind’s Eye Creative. Batman vs Superman vs Captain America vs Hulk vs Deadpool vs Spiderman vs Goku by Kenyan channel HeroSmashers topped 100 million YouTube views. And Sunrise Productions’ Jungle Beat – Munki and Trunk YouTube channel topped 200 million views and 500 000 subscribers.

“2018 has been the best year yet for African animation,” says Noemie Njangiru, Head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. “We are very excited to explore further possibilities of this medium to create job opportunities and transport contemporary narratives from young diverse voices in Africa to the world.”

“It’s easier than ever to get started in animation,” says Stuart Forrest, CEO of Triggerfish. “We’ve been amazed by the quality of films we’ve been receiving from children as young as 11. In today’s visual world, animation is an in-demand skill, but more importantly it’s really fun. We know Africa’s youth are going to enjoy playing with animation – and may discover an exciting new career path at the same time.”

The Triggerfish guide is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish Academy for additional free classroom resources.

This introduction to making animation is one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; their Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and their schools outreach programme.

Established in 1996, Triggerfish is a Cape Town-based film and entertainment company. The studio has produced two of the top five highest-grossing South African feature films of all time: Adventures in Zambezia (2012) and Khumba (2013), which which have been licensed to around 160 countries and translated into 25 languages.

Triggerfish has also provided animation for three multi-award-winning BBC Christmas adaptations produced by Magic Light Pictures: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man (2015), Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes (2016),  and The Highway Rat (2017).

Revolting Rhymes was nominated for an Oscar and won over 15 international awards, including the International Emmy Awards Kids: Animation prize; the Cristal at Annecy; Best Animated Special at the Annie Awards; Best One-Off Special at Kidscreen; and Best Animation at the BAFTA Children’s Awards.

Triggerfish has just finished Zog, another Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptation produced by Magic Light Pictures for BBC for Christmas 2018, and is currently in production on its third feature film, Seal Team, and fourth BBC Christmas special, The Snail And The Whale, a Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptation produced by Magic Light Pictures for BBC for Christmas 2019.

The introduction to animation course is realised within the initiative “Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs)” by the Goethe-Institut South Africa with support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). By strengthening and networking local CCIs, positive and commercially viable “African narratives and productions” are being supported (through animation, gaming, fashion, music, etc.).

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute. With a global reach, Goethe-Institut promotes the German language abroad and foster international cooperation. By providing information on Germany’s cultural, social and political life, Goethe-Institut conveys a comprehensive picture of our country. Goethe Institut’s cultural and educational programmes promote intercultural dialogue, enable cultural participation, strengthen the expansion of civil society structures and promote global mobility.


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