Students of The Animation School Win Big in New York Festival

Students of The Animation School Win Big in New York Festival

We are proud to announce that The New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards has rewarded graduates of The Animation School the 2011 GOLD WORLD MEDAL, recognizing their entry “In Sickness” as the world’s best in the Short Animation Film category.

This is the acceptance speech by Benito Kok and Ian van Heerden.

The Animation School Wins at the ASA Student Competition

The Animation School Wins at the ASA Student Competition

Animation South Africa had its first ever Student Competition Viewing on Saturday, 4 February at The Bioscope Independent cinema in Johannesburg. The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) sponsored the event and the 1st prize is a trip to the world’s biggest animation festival in Annecy, France later this year.

Other prizes included internships, online courses and book prizes contributed by supportive industry players. The aim of the competition is to motivate local schools and in so doing raise the overall standard of animation locally.

The competition was open to all students who are currently registered at a South African animation school, including universities, technical colleges and private tertiary institutions. This year’s eligible schools excluded online courses such as Animation Mentor, but this will most likely be amended next year.

According to Animation SA the competition aims to create an open dialogue between the South African animation industry and the animation educational institutions. Further it hopes to inform students about the local animation industry, their opportunities for employment, and the expectations of potential employers.

The competition was initiated to decrease the gap between the needs of the industry and the skills of graduates and to give exceptional students the motivation and tools to further their skills and careers. Other goals are to create an awareness of local animation overseas and to create public interest in the South African animation at home.

David Hecker, formerly an animation educator at Learn2 and now with Sunrise was one of the judging team. “The judges were very impressed not only by the overall quality of the work entered, but also the diversity of the stories being told. There were a number of pieces that absolutely blew us away in terms of their concept and execution and we were thrilled to see that there was a general understanding of what it takes to make an animated short without relying on stale jokes and half-baked stories”.

“Some of the categories were hotly contested and warranted some lengthy discussion. The general standard of entries was quite good and we all feel that there is some really good talent about to hit the market”.

Shannan Taylor from Monster Studios in Johannesburg also commented on the challenging task of selecting the winner: “It was very inspiring to see that the standard of work submitted for this competition was on such a  level  that our local  animation studios  may have to reconsider  what is required from  entry level  animators!  I would really like to reinforce that as much as  one can predict the words; ‘it was a very close call’… and  ‘there can only be one winner’!”

“I honestly believe there should have  been at least  five  seats on that plane to Annecy!  … Well done to everyone who put in so much of their ‘life  time’ into their submissions ~ keep it up ~ the studios are watching you!”

Winner Jeanelize de Nys from The Animation School with ASA Co-Chair David Whitehouse

1. Short Film

Winner of the grand prize: Jeanelize de Nys (The Animation School)

2nd : Ian van Heerden (The Animation School)

3rd: Kevin Van Der Oever  (Open Window)


2. Character Animation

Winner: Jeanelize de Nys (The Animation School)

2nd: Louis Rossow  (Touch Vision training)

3rd:: Annike Pienaar (Open Window)


3. Outstanding Technical Achievement

Winner by default: Shane Marks (The Animation School)


4. Production Design

Winner: Kevin Van Der Oever (Open Window)

Paul Lombard (The Animation School)

Thapelo Keetile (University of Johannesburg)


5. Best Visual Execution

Winner: Kevin Van Der Oever (Open Window)

2nd: Dumisani Masilela (Touch Vision Training)

3rd: Shane Marks (The Animation School)


No award was given for artistic achievement, due to a lack of entries in alternative mediums.

5 Minutes with… Friedl Jooste

5 Minutes with… Friedl Jooste
Today we are privileged to have a interview with Friedl Jooste who was at Character Matters for many years and is now working in Canada as a 3d Animator.

5 MINUTES WITH … Friedl Jooste


1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?

I am a 3D animator with a passion for anything to do with story or animation.

Since completing my studies at UCAA (now known as The Animation School) I have worked in the 3D animation industry for going on eight years. I have worked in pretty much every aspect of 3D animation, but it became clear to me early on that I enjoyed character animation the most and I also recently started looking more into directing for animation. I worked on various commercials and a few pilot episodes for TV series and then moved on to work as an animator on The Lion of Judah feature film.

After that I got promoted to head of animation at Character Matters animation studios where I stayed for about four years. In that time I worked on a lot of projects from commercials to TV series. I also wrote and directed a pilot episode for a TV series called Gijima, and a short story called Hooked. I then received the opportunity to go and work at Modus FX in Canada where I am now.

I am someone with a lot of big dreams but I’m also realistic enough to know that none of your dreams come true without a lot of hard work, late nights, a supportive wife and strong, strong coffee. I love what I do. If I am not animating, I am writing short stories. I have recently begun pursuing a passion for photography and I am constantly trying to learn more about everything animation or film.

2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?

I am currently working on a documentary at Modus FX, but there are also some pretty exciting VFX movies coming up soon to work on, but for now that is all I can say.

3. Who or what inspires you?

I love watching the old Disney films and Warner Bros cartoons for inspiration. It’s also not entirely abnormal for me to sit and skip through some of my favorite Pixar animated shots frame by frame to see how it was done.
As far as style goes in any art form, I love stylized, simplistic, realistic, cartoony, etc. If it is done well, I love it. My favorite piece of animation ever is probably the first time Gepetto makes Pinocchio walk. I think it was an absolutely brilliant piece of work by Frank Thomas.

4. What’s your best project/work to date?

That’s a tough one, I’m always thinking back at my work and thinking that I could do better, but I can say that my most enjoyable experience on projects were:

The Lion of Judah movie gave me my first opportunity to learn animation tricks from some guys who have worked at Dreamworks and Disney. And the team became like another family to me.

Hooked was a short film I wrote and directed for Character Matters. I enjoyed every moment of it and it sparked my passion for directing. It has since been playing at film festivals around the world. It was featured in the June 2011 issue of the 3D World magazine, and it will also feature at the Toronto International film festival.

Sarila the movie was the first time I was surrounded by international animators and had loads more opportunity to learn something new every day.

5. Anthing new going on? Or in the pipeline?

I am at the moment just working as hard as I can, and trying to get as much experience as I can. There are a whole bunch of awesome projects in the pipeline, but nothing I’m allowed to talk about yet. I’m also busy writing a new short story which I very much hope to complete soon.

6. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

I like to spend as much time with my wife as possible. We are in a country which we have barely begun to explore, so there is still lots to see, and a lot of pictures to take. I like a good book, and a good movie always rounds a day off nicely.

7. Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other creatives, just starting out or to the more experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?

Never stop learning. In animation there is always more to learn, and I am pretty sure that this is the case with all art forms.

Take advice from everyone, and learn quickly how to take it well. You will get good advice, and bad advice, learn how to discern between the two, but always show appreciation for both.

Make sure you put your pride aside. If you work in a creative industry, and you are surrounded by other creative people, opinions will differ, and we as creative people tend to have a lot of them!

Work hard. Be constantly on the lookout at what other people in your industry are doing and what are the bench marks that are being set. Don’t get left behind. Even if you think you are good and you don’t need to practice any more, there is someone out there working very hard and will overtake you. Hmm, I guess I really did learn something from The Tortoise and the hare.

This interview was originally posted on

5 Minutes with… Sean Gush

5 Minutes with… Sean Gush

Continuing the series of interviews with artists from South African now pursuing careers overseas, we go to New Zealand and meet Sean Gush who is at Oktobor Animation in Auckland. This Emmy Award-winning studio currently has 130 staff.

5 MINUTES WITH … Sean Gush

My Name is Sean Gush, I started my career in CG animation in 2001 studying at City Varsity where I did a Multimedia course. I finished this and moved to Universal Computer Arts Academy (The Animation School) in 2003 where I focused on CG animation and graduated there in 2004.

1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?
My First Job was at Ministry of Illusion in Johannesburg with a small group of young artists lead by a great artist Martin Heigan. I worked there for + – 3 years on film and Advertising.

In 2008 I moved to New Zealand where I was working for a small studio Huhus Animation, this is were my carrier started in specialization where I focused on Lighting and Compositing. I worked on many DVD and Television releases such as Veggie Tales, Turbo Dogs and Angel Wars.

In 2010 I got an opportunity to move on even further when I was hired as the Post Production Supervisor at Oktobor Animation in Auckland at a newly-started studio focusing on Television shows for Nickelodeon that are now seen in over 400 million households.

2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?
I have been working there since and working on shows such as Madagascar Penguins and Kung Fu Panda looking after teams of up to 25 Lighters Effects and composting artists.

3. What’s your best project/work to date?
My favorite project I worked on was Veggie Tales, the freedom the client gave us and the level at which we took the show was incredible,( Specifically the episode – Pistachio)

4. Who or what inspires you?
The people that inspire me are all the young talents that come into the studio, that have all the drive and talent in the world and all they want is to make great-looking shows.The more enthusiastic people in this industry there are the more we drive forward and make kick-butt work!

5. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
Oooo when I’m not working I’m spending as much time as possible with my wife, and friends. I cannot lie, but gaming is a big part of that too. I’m also a huge photography geek and love to doodle with Time lapse photography.

6. Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other creatives, just starting out or to the more experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?
Keep practicing and let the art drive the learning process, this will always lead you into the asking the questions on how to achieve what the greatest artists have achieved.

This interview was originally posted on


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