After ten years in the industry, Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation launches a Computer Generated (CG) animation department with a project that is set to be South Africa’s first animated feature film.
The new CG department at Triggerfish has recently completed a 4-minute pilot animation, Welcome to Zambezia. Over the last year, a core creative team has been working on characters, environments, and the various technical challenges of bringing feathered CG birds to life in a teeming bird-city.
Zambezia is a children’s adventure aimed at 5-11 year olds, with appeal to the broader family- values film market. It tells the story of a young falcon who leaves his family to pursue his ambitions in the famed bird-city of Zambezia. As he investigates a series of mysterious thefts, he uncovers a plot that threatens the safety of the entire island.
The producers have placed a high level of emphasis on the story element of Zambezia, which has undergone extensive revisions during the year of development. Head scriptwriter Andrew Cook is working closely with Anthony Silverston, winner of the UK Council- and NFVF-funded “25 words or less” scriptwriting competition.
“The feedback we’ve received from the pilot so far has been overwhelmingly encouraging,” says producer Stuart Forrest, “People we’ve shown it to are impressed at the standard of the work produced and how well we’ve captured the African landscape. We believe that by getting a warm, feel-good kid’s film from South Africa out into the international marketplace, we might positively influence people’s perceptions of South Africa, and audiences can get a glimpse of the tremendous creative talent this country has to offer.”
The animation industry is taking off in South Africa and the sudden emergence of long-form animation comes as an exciting development. South Africa has never produced an animated feature film before, and Zambezia is in the running to be the first, and the first totally computer-generated feature film made in Africa.
“Our primary challenge has been training, as there simply aren’t enough experienced character animators in the country,” says Animation Director Mike Buckland. “We’ve developed an in-house training system, partnering a junior animator with each experienced animator and it’s working extremely well. When we go into full production, we’ll bring in some highly experienced animators from overseas, making the most of the skills transference to ensure that the local industry benefits.”
Triggerfish Animation is a long-standing animation studio, best known for its work for Sesame Workshop, NY. “We have always had a strong reputation in stop-frame animation,” says owner Stuart Forrest, “With the addition of a CG department, we are now able to take on a much more diverse range of work.” Triggerfish has also been instrumental in setting up the South African animation association, Animation SA, which now has over a thousand members, and for initiating AnimationXchange, the animator’s forum which meet monthly in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Zambezia is set to go into full production in June 2007, to be released mid-2008. Until then, Triggerfish is working on a number of other projects.