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Television is a very powerful medium to transmit information on different issues. It has the power to capture the attention of audiences and has a lasting effect on their memory.
Having children-based shows on TV is very important, because children shows have the ability to sculpt the way they think and behave.
Animation is a big part of kids’ entertainment. Here in Ethiopia, there have been some works of animation for children on ETV; the most famous one that comes to mind is “Tsehay memar tewodalech,” which translates into “The sun likes learning,” which is an animated short TV series made by a local production company called Whizz Kids. This animated series focuses on the importance of education; it teaches children how education is an invaluable asset.
Observing this opportunity, a team of professionals who work in a production company in the UK known as Blue Zoo Productions, came to Addis Ababa to provide free training and put on a workshop for young people who are interested in animation.
“I have lived and travelled in Ethiopia for the past 4 years. During that time, I identified a good opportunity to link a TV production company in the UK, which is Blue Zoo Production, with some institutions who work in the area of film production, especially animation ,” said Bridget Petty, who is a Communications Consultant at Blue Zoo.
Blue Zoo Production is a well-known company that makes animations for Children BBC (CBBC), Nickelodeons and Cartoon Network as well as making commercials for different famous brands, such as DHL and Shell. Blue Zoo has won Awards like the British Academy for Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which is similar to the Oscars.
The team of professionals gave training on the basics of animation to a group of 16 youth, who comprised of a mixture of music and theatrical arts students, from the Music Mayday School of arts and some from private production companies that work on animation.
The two workshops that were set up, also gave the attendees information on how to utilize the internet to help them do their own independent projects, to develop their animating skills by using tutorial videos on websites like Youtube.
“It is very easy to produce a short film independently without any money just using a computer and different software. That is also what we included in the workshop; how to create films cheaply with low resources,” said Max Taylor who is the Art Director at Blue Zoo.
Those who attended the training and workshop also received some information on how to produce 3D animations. “3D is what we specialize in; basically what we wanted to do is to encourage and inspire young people in Ethiopia. If they learn these skills they will become the future film makers of Ethiopia,” said Bridget.
The other reason the team is here in Ethiopia is to get Ethiopian children involved in the making of an episode of a famous show that is being aired in the UK. The show is called Olive the Ostrich, and it will be aired on Nickelodeon, which is a famous entertainment channel.
“What we are doing is we are getting English children come up with the storyline for this episode of Olive the Ostrich and then get Ethiopian children to draw pictures for the storyline. Then we will cut up the pictures the children drew and turn them into animations.” said Lizzie Hicks, Animation Director at Blue zoo.
The team coordinated with Whizz Kids Production Company and worked with children from Biruh Tesfa Primary School. “The children were very excited to participate in the project and did very well. It is going to be a brilliant collaboration,” said Lizzie.
The team stated that it hopes that this will be the start of a good collaborative relationship with Music Mayday. “We are very excited to be working with Blue Zoo, and we recently started to focus on making animated films. The students are working on pilot projects right now and we hope to show our work to the public soon,” said Derese Negatu, Director of Music Mayday.
The team donated a laptop with software used to make animated films, as well as an animation handbook written by the famous Richard Williams, who was the animation director for the film, “Who framed Roger rabbit”.