Now in its sixth year, the Cape Town International Animation Festival (CTIAF) has gained a reputation as an unmissable opportunity for animation professionals to gather, network and learn. But this March, organising body Animation South Africa reached out beyond the professional community to bring the festival to passionate youngsters who might not otherwise have the chance to discover this world.
The festival curated an outreach programme at Isivivana Centre in Khayelithsa, featuring a half-day workshop in the fundamentals of life drawing hosted by Draw4Life, an initiative by Sparks Flew Development Studio and Animation SA.
Some 70 learners from Khayelitsha, Mitchells’ Plain and Hout Bay took part in the workshop, which was led by animator and character artist Jac Hamman and other animation professionals who volunteered their time for the cause.
Launched in 2016, Draw4Life is a foundational course in the principles of drawing for animation, offered pro bono by Sparks Flew Development Studio to at-risk teens in the Cape with the collaboration of PASCAP (Partners with After School Care Projects), Animation SA, and The Animation School.
The 10-week programme is aimed at discovering talent and raising awareness of animation as a career choice among secondary school learners. “As the industry grows, so does the need for talented young animators coming up through the ranks,” says founder and Animation SA Head of Marketing, Julia Smuts Louw. “We started Draw4Life to try and address this need with the limited resources we had, at the level where the intervention can make a big difference to later choices: secondary school.”
The first D4L group included learners from two high schools in Mitchells Plain: Aloe High and Tafelsig. Sparks Flew worked with PASCAP and The Animation School to identify the first group of eight talented teens, selected on the strength of portfolios and motivations.
Each week’s class involved a fun but intensive 2.5 hour workshop in various aspects of drawing for animation, taught by high-caliber industry professionals, including award-winning director Daniel Snaddon. The learners were taught how to observe and draw bodies in motion: the essence of drawing for animation. The models were all students of different physical disciplines, including karate, jiu jitsu, belly dancing, ballet, and acting. D4L was particularly honoured to host Elizabeth Nienaber, a lead ballerina of the Cape Town City ballet.
“The classes were so valuable that paying students from The Animation School began attending them as well – a great point of pride for us, considering the school ranks among the top 20 worldwide,’ says Smuts Louw.
The final two classes took place at Triggerfish Animation Studios in Bergvliet, where the learners were exposed to a busy working studio and received classes in digital drawing from character designer Philipe Rios. This allowed them to get their first taste of using professional animators’ tools such as Wacom and Cintiq tablets.
“Our biggest coup was that all eight Draw4Life learners were invited to follow up the drawing course with a short course at Digital Canvas Academy, free of charge, over the December break,” says Smuts Louw. “Everyone was keen. All we needed to make it happen was find them tablets. Direct Distribution Services in Cape Town came to the rescue with seven Wacom tablets they had going spare – exactly the number we needed, as it turned out.”
One student who particularly shone in the course, Dawood Salie, was awarded a tablet to keep. He received his prize during the prestigious Student Awards event at CTIAF, along with his fellow 2016 Draw4Life alums.
The Isivivana workshop was the programme’s most ambitious event to date. “It proved that the Draw4Life format can work for bigger groups,” says Smuts Louw. “However, while we’d love to run more once-off events that will expose as many school-goers as possible to the idea of animation as a career, we’d like to keep the course itself quite intimate. Rather than offering bigger classes, we want to roll Draw4Life out in more cities, and expand the impact in this way.”
Animation SA will continue to nurture relationships with all interested graduates and help them look for opportunities to pursue animation as a career. “Eventually, with the right sponsorship, we would like to be able to fund a scholarship ourselves,” says Smuts Louw. “The talent we have discovered so far leads us to believe this is totally achievable.”
For more info, please contact Julia Smuts Louw at firstname.lastname@example.org