The box office success of Hollywood films like Despicable Me, Finding Nemo, Frozen, and Toy Story are testament to the popularity of animation. The Animation School in Woodstock is one of the continent’s leading providers of higher education in this sector, which offers a diploma in digital animation.
The award-winning school is situated in a beautiful warehouse opposite public parks where students chill between classes. The warehouse also houses 22 students at the in-house residence. Each year, 70 students are accepted, divided into two classes.
“When we started, we set a goal for ourselves. We wanted to be the best and build good relationships with the industry. 17 years later, we have a great relationship with the industry. We’ve helped contribute to many productions in terms of what South Africa has been doing. We’ve also formed partnerships with some of the top animation schools in the world, mostly French schools,” explained Nuno Martins, co-founder and principal of The Animation School.
Through partnerships with Gobelins and Ecole Emile Cohl, French animation schools, exchange of skills and knowledge for both teachers and students takes place.
The three-year diploma comprises three main courses per year including electives. During the final year students have to produce short films. “Our curriculum focuses entirely on animation. Our students learn the entire process of animation from 2D in the first year, 3D (character animation) in the second and in the final year, they are put into groups of seven or eight to work on short films,” said Martins.
The Animation School has managed to form relationships with some of the best companies in the industry, such as Triggerfish, which has employed some of its graduates. “We’re very impressed with the skills and potential of the graduates we have taken in this year and in previous projects. There is definitely a big jump in quality expectation from student work to the professional environment, but we are able to train them in the specific requirements of our studio and assign them to work so that they can quickly become productive in the studio,” said Mike Buckland, Head of Production at Triggerfish.
The diploma offered at The Animation School is seen as one of the best yet. To date, the school has bagged 50 awards both locally and internationally. “We are proud of what we’ve achieved since 2000. We consider ourselves to be one of the best animation schools in Africa based on our reputation, our successes in terms of awards and our exposure being internationally recognised,” said Martin.