As Africa’s animation sector booms, the continent’s largest animation studio has launched a new initiative to spur it on. South Africa’s Triggerfish has created a free online course, Triggerfish Academy, to help budding artists understand what it means to work in animation, and encourage them to join the industry.

Twenty-four short videos (which can be watched here), the studio’s personnel explain the stages of the animation pipeline, outlining the skills necessary to perform each one. They also address general questions: the role of computers in production, the status of women in the industry, and so on. In one episode (see below), storyboard artist Kwabena Sarfo reflects on his discussions with his parents about entering the industry — a particularly sensitive topic in Africa, where animation is not yet broadly seen as a viable career.

The course is clearly presented, with a dash of humor. It’s aimed above all at school pupils, although it’s an interesting watch for anyone who wants to learn the basics of how animation is made. It presents exercises and quizzes alongside the videos, and students are invited to submit their animation to the studio via a Facebook page. The very best work will be selected to screen at the 2020 Cape Town International Animation Festival; more details will be announced in late July.

Triggerfish is currently at work on its third feature, Seal Team (whose animation director Tim Argall created Triggerfish Academy). It has also made a number of tv specials, and is co-producing Netflix’s first animated original from Africa, Mama K’s Team 4. The Academy isn’t the studio’s first educational initiative: in 2015 it partnered with the Walt Disney Company and the South African government to create Triggerfish Story Lab, a mentorship scheme for up-and-coming African creators. Most of the winners hailed from South Africa, which has the continent’s most developed animation industry.

(Pictured at top: Terrence Maluleke, freelance concept artist, being interviewed for an episode of Triggerfish Academy.)

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