Animators ready to contribute to diversification

Full Circle Animation Studio News Featured Animators ready to contribute to diversification

Animation has been a part of the T&T landscape for over a decade. The Animae Caribe Animation Festival—one of the Caribbean's longest running festivals and the only one of its kind in the region, celebrated Caribbean animation at the end October.

Bootcamp winners-Par 5-pitched an idea for an animated series which gained the nod from the Caribbean Development Bank for funding.

Given the growing need for local economic diversification and more importantly, the development of the local creative industries, Animae Caribe presented a platform for animation and video game development professionals in T&T and the wider Caribbean, said Camille Selvon Abrahams, a leading Caribbean animator and founder of the Animae Caribe Festival.

She believes that “as with the development of any industry, this is the embryonic stage. There is always a disparity between where you think you are and where you actually are in terms of development and business readiness.

“We have identified some gaps that need critical attention for example, industry focussed training, investment in local IP and long-term investment and support for small businesses in this sector.

“With recent focus on Small Island Economy by international organisations like the Commonwealth Foundation, IDB and World Bank, this is an amazing opportunity to throw animation and game technology into the arena for serious economic discussion.”

Selvon Abrahams along with a number of local animators have provided feedback on the potential of the industry, the current work capacity of animation studios and what’s on the horizon for animation development in T&T.

Weighing in on the discussion are Brett Lewis of Eye Scream Animation Limited (Trinidad and Tobago Animation Network—president), Jason Lindsay, managing director of Full Circle Animation Studio, Rene Holder of Lab206, Nicholas Maxwell of Big Shiny Pixel Limited, and Michael Richards of Phastraq Limited.

State of the Industry—


Michael Richards of Phastraq Limited has an outlook on current productivity levels in the animation industry that is hopeful. He reported that his company, specialising in Visual Effects and Compositing has been getting "quite a bit of work" in various areas, largely attributed to efforts in branding his company and keeping a relatively focussed skill set.

"I think now is an exceptionally productive time for the local (and regional) animation industry as a whole. Personally, I have seen many more people becoming interested in various services and products from commercials to motion graphics, to video games, to lyric videos and films. We are definitely on an upward trend."

"The beauty of our business model is that we never want to handle the full job to begin with but we focus on tackling the parts of the project that we think would be best suited to our areas of expertise," said Richards.

At Full Circle Animation, this has been a particularly special year both—good and bad. Jason Lindsay shares “the economic downturn locally has affected our business with local clientele and we've had to make adjustments to focus on developing international relationships a bit more aggressively than we’d planned. Before the Animae Caribe festival last year we got our first outsourcing job for a TV show on a major network. It was a small production quantity but it tested our ability to produce as part of a global animation production pipeline. Following on from that, this year we've acquired new relationships with international production studios and we've done several outsourcing jobs in quantities that were manageable for us. From these experiences we've managed to both stay afloat financially as well as learn more and more about both our strengths and shortcomings.”

For Lab 206, an animation studio, which has recently diversified into digital and web media services, their workload can run from two to three animation projects at a time—three depending on the size, complexity, requirements.

“There are several levels of animation activity taking place which we can probably separate into commercial work (work for hire) and original content," shared Rene Holder, chief executive officer at Lab 206 studio.

“Productivity levels are low, but are growing,” confirmed a representative of Second Floor Studios located in Diego Martin. “For several years it’s been generally the same people working in the local industry doing majority of the advertisements or other client work, but the number of animators and animation studios popping up locally and regionally are increasing.”

"There was a recent downturn, and has been quite quiet for a bit," concurred Nicholas Maxwell, owner of Bigshinypixel Limited. "We do not produce much 2D or 3D animation outside of television advertising."

Maxwell too has noticed the signs of downturn, identifying a decline in television advertising locally as a part of what has affected his business.

"Within the last five years, there has been a bit less coming in due to an increase in the use of templates, cost cutting and in some cases, large-scale outsourcing, in addition to lack of local talent....but things are slowly picking up with the new (national) budget."

According to Holder, there are several medium-sized animation agencies in the local animation industry with a staff of 15 or less, either on a full-time or part-time basis.

"The activity comes from mostly advertising agencies to governmental agencies, while it has been touch-and-go for most companies, due to rise and somewhat easily accessibility of creating motion graphic content. Most companies have begun to hire in-house creative teams to do most of the lower-tier motion/animation work and only hire external (local or otherwise) for big projects which are becoming more and more few and far between

Article from  Trinidad and Tobago Guardian