Having lived in North America for 10 out of the last 14 years and being a digital media enthusiast, I have always had a fascination with animation. From looking at animated short films to consulting on one, I have always thought, wow, it will be so awesome to be able to create these animations. My first encounter with animation in the Caribbean was an animated music video, and after that, I was drawn in even more. However, what I didn’t know is that there is a whole community of animators in the Caribbean who are prepared to take the field of animation to the next level.
Today I speak to animation evangelist David Martin about the state of animation in the Caribbean.
1- What exactly is animation?
Simply put Animation is a dynamic medium in which images or objects are manipulated to appear as moving images. Today most animations are made with computer-generated imagery (CGI). Computer animation can be very detailed 3D animation, while 2D computer animation can be used for stylistic reasons. Other common animation methods apply a stop-motion technique to two and three-dimensional objects like paper cutouts, puppets or clay figures.
2- How did you (David) get involved in animation?
I have been involved in animation in some form or the other since primary school, in addition to drawing and scribbling all over my books at the time, I also created simple flip books with the edges of my textbooks ,I was a regular visitor to the local printery where I would get my sketch pads and flip books made from leftover scrap paper. I went through a transition in college that saw me taking up video editing and motion graphics, eventually my career choices led me to be a digital animation TVET trainer, Currently, I am a training consultant and advocate for not just animation but the Caribbean digital creative industries in general.
3- Why should we pay attention to animation in the Caribbean?
Animation was the next big thing years ago, and we are behind. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that spreads across many sectors, education, STEAM, gaming, Visual effects, merchandising, television programming. It is a vibrant and exciting profession, it portable; meaning that once you have the internet you can be apart of a team anywhere on the globe.
Animation has many career options to choose from that can fit neatly with your particular level of artistic skill. It also encompasses many techniques used in multimedia production.
4- What are the benefits of animation for us in the Caribbean? What problem is it solving?
Animation solves an economic problem and a cultural problem. Animation is a viable economic alternative to traditional careers, it is well suited for the age of digital content production and the jobs that are created by that. Because of the nature of animation production, it instills discipline, problem solving and teamwork. These are critical employability skills that can translate to any job. As a cultural solution, Animation is a rarely used medium that has the potential to revolutionize how we tell our stories. Animation in its simplest forms do not require the expensive overheads of a Typical TV production outfit , a team of two can create basic learner videos or Caribbean youth can collaborate regionally to make culturally significant content.
5- Can animation be used to enhance entrepreneurship in the Caribbean?
Indeed, As animation expands globally so does the business opportunities, gaming, advertising, app development and merchandising are just some derivatives that make animation viable. Animation can create greater opportunities when business and media interests in the Caribbean catch the vision and start to lend tangible support to our artists
6- Where can young people in the Caribbean learn the ins and outs of animation?
Currently, animation training can be had in a few colleges, High Schools, and TVET institutions in the region, mainly in Jamaica, Trinidad and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines which currently lead the region in their offerings.
there are also STEAM workshops planned for this summer and specialist online options coming soon in the form of the Caribbean Digital Arts Institute for Caribbean young people. When all else fails youtube has many beginner tutorials to wet the feet of would-be animators.
7- Are there any animated feature films, web series or any such features coming from the Caribbean?
So far no feature films that I’m currently aware of, however, there are several pilots for series coming out of Jamaica, Trinidad and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, From Jamaica Abeeku and the maroons by Kevin Jackson and Chevonnese Chevers Whyte, Tale of Shadows by Corretta Singer, DJ Rosie by Kamaal Manboard, Puuds by Patrick Meikle, Math the Villain by Kemar McInnis,Scraps the Cat by Kevin Bhall out of Trinidad and Yurumein Flame of freedom, the Garifuna story by David Martin and Ansel Quow from Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.
8- What’s your best piece of advice for young people thinking about getting involved in animation?
Start and never look back, it will be a crazy rollercoaster ride with hard work and sleepless nights but it will totally be worth it. If the attitude to this new field is right
9- Anything else interesting that we should know about?
The Eastern Block Artistic alliance will launch our fully online Caribbean Digital Arts Institute as a learning and support portal for Caribbean young people wishing to explore careers in Animation and the creative industries. We will offer portfolio development support, career development seminars, workshops and curriculum development consultancy to Caribbean states.