As Jamaica gears up to take advantage of the lucrative global animation industry, estimated to be worth US$200 billion, young people across the island are to benefit from intensive training.
Through the ‘I Believe Initiative’ (IBI), scores of talented youth have been given the opportunity to learn some of the basic skills and techniques from local and international players in the field, which will help prepare them for a career in animation.
A total of 15 youths from the county of Surrey, recently participated in the first in a series of three one-week intensive training sessions in animation, held in collaboration with GSW Reel Rock Animations, and the Montreal-based ToonBoom Animation, with support from the island’s principal universities.
Other sessions will be held from July 15 to19 at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville for youngsters in the county of Middlesex, and at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay, from July 21 to 26, for the county of Cornwall.
Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, who is patron of the IBI, presented the first batch of trainees with certificates of participation at a closing ceremony held on June 28 at the University of Technology (UTech) campus, St. Andrew.
The Governor-General said he is excited about the world of opportunities available to Jamaica’s youth in the animations industry.
“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,” he said.
IBI Ambassador and Executive Director of GSW Reel Rock Animations, Wayne Sinclair expressed pleasure at the “tremendous achievement” of the young people during the week.
He said the hope is that the training will be replicated throughout Jamaica “on many different levels” and commended the Governor-General for “putting the weight of his office and his good graces” behind animation.
“This is an industry for the future. It is an industry for young people…but the Governor-General is clearly very young at heart, mind, body and spirit in seeing and recognising the importance of this initiative to our youth, and the importance of this industry to the growth of Jamaica in general,” he states.
Head, School of Computing and Information Technology, UTech, Arnett Campbell, told the participants that through applied use of technology youngsters can create the kind of knowledge products in Jamaica that can be consumed by the world.
He encouraged them to impart what they have learnt to others, noting that “as you share with others, you will transform your own communities.”
Course participant, Daniel Johnson, while presenting an impressive compilation of each student’s work over the period, informed that during the course of the study, they were able to grasp the core concepts of animation.
He said they learnt about principles that are fundamental in creating quality animated products like squashing, stretching, key framing, networking, lip syncing and how to develop animated characters.
Information Technology Instructor, Robert Reid, in summing up the work of the participants, said he was impressed with their efforts, noting that they had learned in one week, what would normally have taken at least two months.
The training programme was the result of ongoing communication with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ToonBoom, Joan Vogelesang, who offered free licences for the training of young people, using the ToonBoom animations software.
Ms. Vogelesang was recently in the island to participate in the two-day animation conference and film festival, KingstOOn, which sought to raise awareness in Jamaica about the emerging opportunities in the animation industry.
“When she (Ms. Vogelesang) was here for KingstOOn, she had a dinner meeting, hosted by the Governor-General and Lady Allen to which we invited Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites. The focus was on using animations to enhance teaching and learning, which ToonBoom was already doing in the United States, Canada and some states in Africa,” explained Special Advisor to the Governor-General, Ambassador Evadne Coye.
She said that through the generosity of Ms. Vogelesang, top performers from each county will be given the opportunity to be trained to international certification standard.
“This will open many doors for them in the entertainment industry as well as in others where animations are being used, such as property and infrastructural development,” she pointed out.
Noting that a number of the participants stand to receive jobs, Ambassador Coye informed that Mr. Sinclair has assured that he “can use the best trainees” and jobs for animators already exist in his studio. He will also facilitate work experience for others.
Ambassador Coye said the potential for the local industry is great and young people should prepare, not just for jobs, but also to establish their own successful animation businesses.
She thanked the collaborating tertiary institutions for their support in allowing the use of their computer laboratories free of cost, and providing technicians to ensure that all goes well.
The IBI is a values-based initiative developed on the concept that there is nothing wrong in Jamaica, which cannot be fixed by the things that are right with Jamaica.
The Initiative was born out of the inaugural speech given by the Governor-General, at his swearing-in ceremony on February 26, 2009. Following two years of broad-based consultations, IBI was developed and was officially launched in May 2011 at King’s House.
Contact: Alecia Smith-Edwards