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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Several experts in the field and many talented youths in western Jamaica are expressing optimism.
  • Jamaicans are being exposed to the same type of software that international animators use.
  • The local training capacity will be further boosted once courses in animation are introduced to high schools.

As Government makes further investment in training and pushes to develop the local animation industry, several experts in the field and many talented youths in western Jamaica are expressing optimism at the country’s ability to establish itself as a major brand and earn a profitable share of the lucrative market.

In welcoming the government’s support, animator, Maurice Brown, says for years persons in the sector have relied on natural skills and were self taught, but with the various training programmes now on offer, and the growing and easy use of technology, Jamaicans are being exposed to the same type of software that international animators use. He is convinced that local animators can deliver to international markets.

“It has become quite easy for us here in Jamaica to do what we see on TV. We do have our own stories to tell, but we don’t want our things to look like it is done by amateurs. The same quality that we see on TV, we can indeed do that here on our own. We know what the international persons in North America are doing,” he says.

The local training capacity will be further boosted once courses in animation are introduced to high schools and State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, is hoping that this will be as early as next year.

Mr. Robinson says the Government will shortly embark on an initiative to have animation courses taught in the school system, and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), will, in 2014, include animation in its curriculum.

“We are about to look at implementing a training programme which will start from our primary school, to the secondary schools, through to the tertiary level. CXC is about to implement an animation course as part of the curriculum, which we think, is important at the high school level; and discussions have started with a number of educational institutions to see how we can infuse animation into our curriculum,” the Minister tells JIS News.

Minister Robinson points out that in Jamaica, “we have an abundance of raw talent, but we have to ensure that at all levels of our education system our youngsters are exposed to the kind of training that will allow them to succeed in the industry.”

Noting that “you need people who can draw, you need people who can write scripts, and you need people who can produce,” he points out that there are a number of different specific talents that can be incorporated in the animation industry. He expresses that this is an area that can tap into the vast pool of unemployed young persons.

He noted too that the programme has the support of the World Bank. “The World Bank, which collaborated with us in staging the animation conference (Kingstoon in June 2013), is committed to ensuring that we can more fully exploit the industry; so from that perspective they have been a strong development partner. There are other aspects where the Government will make its own investment, particularly in the training and skills development,” he adds.

For Second Year Digital Media Production student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, Janeil McDonald, the development of the industry will help youngsters to “showcase” their talents, while putting the country on a strong economic path and “get us known for other things apart from the traditional things that we always offer to the world.”

“I have seen a lot of skills that are needed in animation. One doesn’t have to go into animation looking to complete an entire project; one can go into animation just knowing how to draw, to create a storyline, just having creative concepts to come up with characters, then give your characters to those who can draw. One can go into cleanup, sketch; it (the field) comprises different skills. And I would like to encourage youngsters to participate, take keen interest in it,” Miss. McDonald urges.

Another student, Knakia Moreland, also feels “very good” about the industry. He shares that a recent short course done during the summer has made him “more advanced with a better understanding of how the industry is, and how exactly cartoons are created.

“I feel very good about the animation industry moving in Jamaica. It creates a wonderful opportunity for up and coming artists. This is what was really needed, we have the talent, but did not have the resources to capitalize…now things and times are changing, and the animation industry is really looking towards Jamaica for outsourcing work; so it really creates a good opportunity for individuals,” Mr. Moreland says.

Creative Industries Manager and Film Commissioner, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Kim-Marie Spence, told a forum at the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference that animation represents one of the ways in which Jampro wants to take the Jamaican creative industries.

“We have been good at music, sport, and it is now time for us to take it to that next level; us having our animation industry that tells our story so that people come to us to make their animation, but also us getting our story out and making brand Jamaica a reality,” she said.

Executive Director, GSW Animation, Wayne Sinclair, told the same forum that the industry is worth billions. “The animation industry has come full circle. It represents the single industry with the greatest potential for economic development, and employment of those in our society that are most at risk, primarily youth folk. The animation industry is a global industry, worth about $232 billion, and that is just the entertainment aspect. Gaming, you are looking at another $53 billion,” he informed.

“It puts us in an excellent position to move into this space for outsourcing, which in turn sets us on a platform to develop and distribute our own IP (Intellectual Property). What these international partners are looking for before they can even look at your IP, is a demonstration that you can produce on time, and that you can produce quality work. Just as our Diaspora community has been great ambassadors for the launching out of our music industry, we can play that same kind of role in the animation industry as well,” Mr. Sinclair argued.

The development and promotion of the creative industry is part of government’s strategy towards the achievement of the Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan.