HOW TO BECOME AN ANIMATOR IN SOUTH AFRICA
Your dream is to become a world class Animator but you haven’t a clue where to start? Our easy step by step guide below will help you along the way and introduce you to the power players, renowned studios and other interesting resources.
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STEP 1: JOIN THESE LOCAL ANIMATOR SUPPORTERS
The dream at Pixelsmithstudios is to help and grow the local animation and illustration community in South Africa. We know there’s some great international guys out there but we’re kind of in love with the local talent and that’s why we help in any way we can through interviews,sharing work,giving free profiles on our site and more. Need help? Then contact us, even if it’s just to point you in the right direction.
Animation SA are our buddies, we like them (and they hopefully like us just as much). We’re in no way affiliated with these guys but we’re on the same team so we give exposure where we can since they are a passionate group of people and Animation South Africa (A.S.A) is a non-profit organisation mandated by industry to develop and represent South African animation. So go and say hi!
STEP 2: JOIN THESE LOCAL FACEBOOK ANIMATION GROUPS
STEP 5: Create FREE Animator Profiles
Part of staking your claim in the world (even if you are a local) is to get your name on the internet. You need to create a profile…nay a list of profiles to build followers. Gaining followers isn’t just to motivate you but it also gives your work exposure, which could lead to great opportunities on a global scale! (Ruan Smit : Digital Marketing Experience 6 years )
STEP 5:Prep for Interviews, Portfolios and Reels
As you can imagine, planning and preparing your personal profile takes a lot of work…but it pays off! Creating a portfolio,business profile and preparing for interviews start as soon as you step into the world of animation. Here are a few tips from local senior animators and a digital marketer with 5+ years experience on improving your stock in the industry 😉
Baws at Mike Scott Animation
Ooh, I got a good one for pitching a story. Pen Ward (namedrop), creator of Adventure Time, told me this himself, in his car. He said there aren’t any rules about using props / no props, what you should / shouldn’t say, but he said one good thing to do is to wrap the person up in a story, and that’s magical. Execs see this kind of ‘this is the lead character, this is his friend, this is the world, a, b, c’ stuff all day, but if you can transport them with a story and really weave something cool and get them into it, that’s a nice door in the wall of reality.
Animator at Modus FX, Animation Supervisor at Axis Animation & Animation Director at Sunrise Productions
After a briefing, always repeat back to the Director what you’re planning to do, so he knows you know what he knows, you know? Seriously, never leave a briefing or a review of your animation without being totally clear about the notes you got. You don’t want to waste a single minute going off track. Rather look a little silly now than a lot silly later.
3D Lecturer at Prestige Academy
Step 1: draw draw draw draw, step 2: get involved (steps 1 and 2), see what others are doing,support them, contribute, step 3: challenge yourself with every creative work piece to do better, step 4… get educated (step 3), step 5: put yourself out there (steps 5&6), Step 6: graciously accept and listen to critiques and feedback. Step 7: take part in open competitions. Read more Books!
Works at Triggersfish Animation Studio
On the subject of getting your first job in the animation industry, there is no easy steps one two and three.
You have to be proactive. The harsh reality is that for a lot of people the reel you put together in collage won’t cut it. For some it has and yes they walk among us, but I know for myself it was not enough. The skills I learned in collage were invaluable but I realized I was competing with a lot of people for a limited few jobs back then, so there was not the luxury to stop working after collage and just wait for a job offer. Keep creating stuff! Share it on online communities; create an online presence for yourself. When I talk to an animator that finished collage 5 months ago and he has no new work to show for himself since then, generally that’s not a great sign.
A guy once asked me advice on getting a job in the industry. He finished collage over a year ago. Put his reel online and expected companies to come flocking without ever having to call or email anyone. Aint gonna happen like that I’m afraid. Work hard, there will be rejections, but they can’t slow you down, keep working, and if you are really passionate about what you do and your work reflects it, you will get that job! Your first job in the industry might not be the one you dreamed of, but keep working and keep improving. You will learn a lot working at a studio yes, but also keep working on your own stuff! Find online competitions to participate in. For animators 11 second club is great and a lot of fun. That’s it, go create something!
30 years in the Animation Industry
I think the issue for me stems from the start of the definition. an animator.. How many of the local colleges are doing proper training.. Not showing how to use the software, but in real grounding/storyboarding.. Classical animation drawing… I see Ric Cappeci is doing a character development course at triggerfish.. every aspiring animator should do this.. as it’s not really something that is on offer at the schools.. This such a broad topic.. I’ve been employing and working with animators / artists for 30yrs.. And the single biggest failing when young talents starts, is their lack of basics…
There is a huge difference between:
- an animator (someone who can create “life” in a character and that the viewer can connect with)
- and a person, who is a modeler/vfx/ matte painter.. etc..
Animators.. animate.. be it on paper/models/computer.. animators should study motion and acting.. ballet.. in reality.. animators are bringing themselves to life through their characters.. User groups, are great to say hi.. but.. where are the real workshops.. who’s doing that.. South Africa is a very challenging country, in which to become an animator.. There are no companies here who can truly take an aspiring artist and grow that talent… Disney/Dreamworks all have incredible intern programs.. In SA we pretty much expect our talent pool to be ready to work out of college.. and that’s not a reality.. In a studio like BlackGinger/Luma etc.. It takes time for the new artist to be productive..We have incredibly talented people in this country.. But, not enough mentors who have the time or the will to impart their knowledge.
Lead Animator at Triggerfish Animation Studio
Plan what you want to animate until you know exactly where your shot is going. Know your shot inside and out before laying down a key. Don’t be like me kids. Do the right thing.