Humanities in Action | Mastering the arts and the sciences of animation | Art & Leisure

As a child of the ’80s I belong to a generation raised by television and video games. Like many children today, I sat on my living room floor, legs crossed, glued to the television, watching cartoons, mainly produced in Japan and Korea but dubbed in English for foreign audiences. With the advent of cable and channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, my afternoons and Saturday mornings were spent watching cartoons such as Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop and Batman: The Animated Series. Like many of my peers and students, this is where my passion for art and drawing began pencil and paper inhand, pausing the VCR to trace the characters on the television.

My requests for art supplies and extra drawing classes were met with encouragement, but they were also paired, compliments of my parents, with extra classes in math and computer science. Upon beginning my undergraduate studies indesign and animation, I quickly found that the worlds of animation art and of science were intertwined. My understanding of computer science, physics, and biology made me more versatile within the animation-production environment.

While the core principles of animation can be explored by drawing in the corner of a textbook, professionally, the process is far more complex. Animation has evolved from the days of Walt Disney with a team of fine artists working over drafting tables and light boxes, drawing hundreds of images of Mickey Mouse.

 

ARTISTIC SKILL SET

 

Today, teams of people using powerful computers and cutting-edge technology create lifelike animation using skills ranging from 3D modelling and digital painting to even computer programming and physics-based simulations.

While the skill set of an animator is firmly rooted in drawing and artistic expression, modern animation requires the blending of science and fine art. Animation as we now know it today has some of its roots in the sciences, with many of the early examples of computer-based animation being created by mathematicians, computer scientists, and even nuclear physicists. But, essentially animation is an exercise of the creative imagination and a professional skill that is being sought by a large number of young people in Jamaica and globally.

Until recently, the only avenue to study and work in animation was overseas. Like many of my peers of over a decade ago I pursued my education in animation in the United States, and I imagined that it would be unlikely that I would return home to Jamaica and find employment in my field.

However, today, I am very much based in Jamaica teaching and working in the field of animation and motion graphics at CARIMAC, in the Faculty of Humanities and Education, UWI. For many others like me, the local animation landscape is rapidly changing for the better.

The list of local animation firms is growing steadily, with studios such as Real Rock GSW, Alcyone Animation, Liquid Light Digital, and Pixel 3D, all based in Kingston.

They are creating…

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