Jamaica trying to become animation industry hub

Jun 20, 2013 by David Mcfadden

Aspiring visual artists hoping to sketch out a promising future flocked on Thursday to an animation industry conference in Jamaica, which hopes to become the next hub of a growing global industry that generated more than $100 billion last year.

Jamaican and World Bank officials believe that the international animation industry can create thousands of jobs for young hopefuls in Jamaica, where the economy has sputtered for more than 30 years and good jobs are scarce. Because animation skills are transportable, they say capable individuals in Jamaica can serve international clients outsourcing work while also developing their own creative productions.

On Thursday, the first day of a two-day conference on the business, dozens of Jamaican hopefuls submitted their artwork and got career tips from representatives of industry leaders such as Bento Box, a Burbank, California-based company that is an animation producer for broadcast and cable networks.

Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton said labor-intensive animation "offers huge potential for the creation of jobs" in Jamaica. He said the country is well-positioned to become part of the industry's "global supply and value chain" because the English-speaking country shares a language with major content producers in the U.S., Britain and Canada and its citizens have always displayed a deep talent for the arts.

Scott Hodges, a 20-year-old student at Kingston's Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, was among the excited young artists in attendance.

"I wanted to be in animation ever since I was small. We just need opportunities in Jamaica and we can succeed," Scott said the sidelines of the conference at Jamaica's campus of the University of the West Indies.

Starting in the early 1970s, Hollywood producers began sending animation work to countries like Mexico, Canada and Spain as a way to cut rising labor costs. By the beginning of the next decade, the industry turned to Japan and its animation sector, which relied on subcontractors in Taiwan and South Korean.

Today, there are thousands of animation studios and trade schools across Asia, many of them in China. Animation outsourcing by major companies such as Disney Animation and Nickelodeon to subcontractors in countries such as India and the Philippines has become a flourishing business.

Long a musical innovator, Jamaica is now having some success with animation. "Cabbie Chronicles," an animated comedy featuring a sullen Jamaican cab driver named Delly and a changing cast of colorful customers, has won several regional awards.

Joan Vogelsang, president and CEO at Montreal-headquartered Toon Boom Animation Inc., a company that produces digital content and animation creation software, said she's confident that Jamaica has the necessary ingredients to become a popular animation destination "not only for subcontracting opportunities but also for intellectual property development."

Vogelsang, who has helped develop animation sectors in India and other countries across the globe, also said the industry creates well-paying jobs that can help build a strong middle class in countries like Jamaica.

"The day of the starving artist is over," she told a conference room of eager creative types.

Joel Kuwahara, co-founder and principal of Bento Box and a former producer on "The Simpsons," said the global industry is enthusiastic to bring talented artists from Jamaica and other regional spots into the fold.

"Technology gives you the chance to work with more partners overseas," Kuwahara said before giving a presentation. "It's a necessity for us because it's expensive to produce in Los Angeles. And these days, there are no limitations to where you live to collaborate."

Explore further: Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA animation sees Post-Tropical Storm Andrea speed away

Jun 10, 2013

Post-Tropical cyclone Andrea's remnants sped into the North Atlantic Ocean over the weekend of June 8 and 9. NOAA's GOES-14 satellite data was used to create an animation of imagery that showed Andrea's movement from off ...

Scholar explores the human side of animation

Apr 08, 2013

(Phys.org) —A new essay takes a new look at the staying power of animated Disney films, as well as examines the long-held criticism that the films promote consumerism. The article by Eric Scott Jenkins, ...

Recommended for you

Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

14 hours ago

Google unveiled plans Friday for a new campus headquarters integrating wildlife and sweeping waterways, aiming to make a big statement in Silicon Valley—which is already seeing ambitious projects from Apple ...

Ericsson sues Apple over patent violations

22 hours ago

Swedish telecoms group Ericsson announced Friday a lawsuit against Apple claiming that the US tech giant continued to use its technology in iPhones and other wireless devices after refusing to renew a licencing ...

Stock market shrugs off net neutrality vote

Feb 27, 2015

(AP)—The stock market largely shrugged off the Federal Communications Commission's vote to impose tougher rules on broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to prevent them from creating paid fast lanes for the ...

Judge orders suspension of WhatsApp in Brazil

Feb 26, 2015

(AP)—A judge says he has ordered the suspension of the globally popular instant messaging system WhatsApp across Brazil because it has allegedly failed to help in an investigation.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.