Watch The Animated Films That Won The 2019 Triggerfish Academy Competition
The future of the animation industry in Africa looks very promising if the high quality of the entries in the inaugural Triggerfish Academy competition for young film-makers is any indication.
The winners of the inaugural Triggerfish Academy competition, which seeks to encourage young people to experiment with animation, were announced at the Cape Town International Animation Festival after a showcase screening of all the trophy- and certificate-winning entries. The competition was open to aspiring animators from all over Africa aged 24 or younger and was divided into junior, high school, and senior categories.
Tim Argall, the director of the Triggerfish Academy, announced the winners, many of whom were at the festival and therefore got the chance to see an audience enjoying their work in real life, and the awards and certificates were presented by Noemie Njangiro, the head of culture and development at Goethe-Institut Südafrika, which is one of the sponsors of the academy along with Triggerfish Animation Studios and Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Corporation For International Cooperation, or GIZ).
The judging panel comprised Tim Argall and Noemie Njangiro, as well as Faghrie Coenraad, the lead modeller at Triggerfish Animation Studios; Malcom Wope, a character designer at Triggerfish Animation Studios; Mike Buckland, the head of production at Triggerfish Animation Studios; Daniel Snaddon, a director at Triggerfish Animation Studios; Lorraine Alvarez Posen, a concept artist; and Annike Pienaar, an animator at Illumination Entertainment in Paris.
Some of the winners receiving their awards at the 2019 Cape Town International Animation Festival, where their films were screened to an appreciative audience. [ Photo source
The standard of the entries was incredibly high, as you can see from the winning films below, so the judging took some time. (If the Triggerfish Academy Facebook page is to be believed the judges were still deliberating a couple of days before the awards ceremony.)
Unfortunately notable is the dominance of male winners (and likely dearth of entries from young women). Are they not entering because they are not interested? (I doubt that - the South African animation industry, as an example, is filled with women in both creative and production jobs.) Do they not want to post their entries publicly on Facebook or YouTube? Did news of the competition just not reach them? Answering these questions - and finding future female stars - is an issue the Triggerfish Academy is going to have to tackle now that it is aware that there is a problem.
Also notably absent from the awards were categories for editing and sound design. While some animators used stock sound effects and music, others put a lot of effort into the audio of their projects and recorded their own vocal effects, voiceovers, and music. Sound is a key component of film - you'll see in the animatic examples that are highlighted below that all the sound effects and musical compositions were largely in place long before the films were actually animated - and it deserves a category of its own.
For now, however, let's celebrate the inaugural event and the incredible raw talent that's to be found all over the continent.
Best Junior Film: The Great Adventure
Eleven-year-old animator Ethan (otherwise known as "Minideliciouspant") won the junior category, which offered prizes that included a 3D printed trophy and R1000, for his LEGO (and Prestik) themed stop-motion adventure. This wasn't the only film that Ethan entered into the competition and Tim Argall noted his larger body of work during the awards ceremony, which I suspect contributed to the young animator winning this category.
Best High School Film: Three Little Pigs
Robin Zimmer (16) animated and voiced a chilling tale of the three little pigs that has a surprise ending. His prize included a 3D printed trophy and R1000. Zimmer has been animating since January 2018, so that's just over a year, and the quality of his work is quite remarkable. Three Little Pigs
also won the Best Story category in the competition.
Another of his films, Never Again
, "a short 2D animation about two children and their worst nightmare" that amusingly features the Wilhelm scream
(which is a contemporary filmmaking nightmare for some people), was also screened during the awards ceremony as one of the top 20 films in the competition.
For those interested, there's a very comprehensive "making of" video that goes into great detail regarding how Never Again
was made. It took Zimmer just over 11 hours of work to complete the animation.
Best Senior Film/Open Category: Pinball People
Musician and animator Jesse Harvey (24) won the senior category, which included a prize of a 3D printed trophy and R1000, for the animation of his music video Pinball People
(he performs the music and vocals as well). Pinball People
, which "discusses identity crisis within the corporate world", also won the Best Design category in the competition.
For those curious about the planning and production of the Pinball People
music video, Harvey also posted the storyboard and animatic of the video on YouTube.
Another of Harvey's animations, Duck 'n Cover Department
, won the Best Storyboard/Animatic category. You'll note that the animatic is of a higher quality than the one for Pinball People
and therefore more clearly brings across what happens in each shot, which is probably why it won, and includes well defined movement lines in a different colour to ensure that how the characters in the shots will move across the frame stands out for the viewer.
This is the completed animation for Duck 'n Cover Department
in which you can see how the storyboarding planning was translated to a full animated short. The film is in a completely different style to Pinball People
and has a lovely paper-cutout feel to the backgrounds, with main characters whose design is very reminiscent of old cartoons.
Best Comedy: LEGO Granny To The Rescue
Daneel Bronner (14) was awarded a certificate (and 3D printed trophy) for LEGO Granny To The Rescue
, which won the Best Comedy category. The film is a stop-motion LEGO animation in which a boy tries to cross a busy road to buy some pizza from a pizza truck.
Best Character Design: Unodoli Wam'
Ntokozo Ndlala (24) was awarded a certificate for winning the Best Character Design category for Unodoli Wam'
(My Doll), which, although light on animation, features very vibrant characters that are physically expressive. The comedic story is about a boy who tries to take a girl's doll away from her - and she is having none of that.
Ndlala also submitted an animatic for Unodoli Wam'
, which isn't too different from the final film but it will give you an idea of some of the planning that went into it.
Best Use Of The Principles Of Animation: The Scare
Naoli Dadhi (14 (I think)), a young film-maker from Ethiopia, was awarded a certificate for winning the Best Use Of The Principles of Animation category for the film The Scare
. (You can learn more about the principles of animation in the quick explanatory video embedded in our January news story that announced the Triggerfish Academy competition
.) The principles include "anticipation", "follow through and overlapping action", "staging", "arcs", and "timing".
Best Technique/Technical Achievement: A Short Journey
André Janse van Vuuren (19) who, even at such a young age is already an accomplished Blender
3D modeller (we were on the same team at this year's Global Game Jam and you can see more of his work in our game Sunday Afternoon
, which is free to download and play), was awarded a certificate for Best Technique/Technical Achievement for his film A Short Journey
Most Emotive Film: Find Yourself
is Tshepo Sefadi's "first animation ever" (and he snuck it into the competition at the last minute too - it was posted on YouTube the day before the submission window closed), which proves that it's worth taking a chance on something new if you're passionate enough because you never know what might happen. Sefadi received a certificate for winning the Most Emotive Film category for this animation, which uses simple lines to bring forth a powerful message.
Digital Artistry: Makoanyane: The Hunter
Thato Mokhali (24) received a certificate for winning the Digital Artistry category for Makoanyane: The Hunter
for his painted backgrounds and the general stylisation of the film, which was a team effort with Bokang Moalolo who wrote the story and assisted with colouring.
Mokhali also posted an animatic for the film.
Most Creative Use Of Mixed Media: Squib And The Big Cheese
Brothers Nathan Meyer (18) and Justin Meyer (18) were awarded a certificate for winning the Most Creative Use Of Mixed Media category for their stop-motion animated film Squib And The Big Cheese
. The film-makers' creative use of paper cutouts and everyday objects proves that it's possible for anyone to make an animated film even if a person doesn't have drawing skills, which are incorrectly assumed to be a prerequisite for being an animator.
Staging And Cinematography: Kato
Finally, Brandyn Calitz and Dihan Swanepoel were awarded certificates for winning the Staging And Cinematography category for their film Kato
, which is a cinematic trailer - for a larger (unproduced) work - that succinctly brings across the themes of ambition, determination, and revenge.
Congratulations to all the winners and may this inspire you - even if you're too old to enter the competition in future - to make your own animated short film. It can be done with something as simple as a cellular phone
and a ball of Prestik so there are no more valid excuses.
Triggerfish Academy: Official Site
Triggerfish Animation Studios: Official Site
Goethe-Institut Südafrika: Official Site
GIZ: Official Site
, Speculative Fiction