JAMPRO sees significant scope for animation outsourcing in Jamaica

Jamaica’s large talent pool and its close geographical proximity to film and entertainment heavyweights in the US have perfectly positioned the country to develop a strong animation sector that will have the potential to command a meaningful share of the multi-billion dollar global industry, according to JAMPRO’s Creative Industries Manager and Film Commissioner, Kim Marie Spence.

Speaking ahead of the staging of the Kingstoon animation conference and festival, which is scheduled to take place on June 20 & 21 at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Spence noted that Jamaica has the right attributes to establish itself as a quality provider of animation services to big markets such as the US and Canada.

“Recent interactions with representatives from major entertainment companies in the US have confirmed that they consider Jamaica to be excellently positioned to assume a significant role in the provision of animation services and content based on our proximity, common language and cultural affinity,” stated Spence.

She elaborated that among Jamaica’s advantages are its large English-speaking workforce, which is critical when working with English-speaking animated characters, lower production costs and the island’s well-established track record and global influence in the creative industries. According to data from the Overseas Examination Council, over 2,500 students passed Art & Design with grades one or two between 2008 and 2012.

“These young people have the basic skills required to become world-class animators. When you consider older age groups or existing professionals in the field or allied industries, that number is easily tripled. The animation industry can provide a clear avenue to develop raw local talent into highly skilled resources, which will generate many jobs for Jamaicans in the process,” said Spence.

The global animation industry was valued at US$222.8 billion in 2012, with much of the animation outsourcing jobs going to countries like India, South Korea and the Philippines. Spence indicated that as the animation companies in these countries move up the value-chain and shift away from outsourcing to the development and production of their own content, a gap will be created for outsourcing services that countries like Jamaica can seek to fill.

“The local animation industry is expanding and there are encouraging signs from existing ‘pure play’ studios, mixed companies and independent animators who are seeking to formalise the industry. Once the country is able to demonstrate its growth potential in this area through the establishment of more professional firms with improved production capacity, we will be able to attract the attention of more global players.”

Kingstoon, which is being organised by the Government of Jamaica in partnership with the World Bank, Canadian High Commission and JAMPRO, is geared towards raising local awareness of the emerging opportunities in animation, particularly among the youth. The two-day event will also provide a platform for showcasing Jamaican and Caribbean talent and identifying key policy decisions needed to support the animation industry in Jamaica.n

Kingstoon will feature panel discussions with local and international industry leaders, as well as an animation competition. Among the sponsors of the event are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited (Flow), Jamaica Gleaner and LIME.

JAMPRO’s involvement with Kingstoon is the latest in a series of activities undertaken by the agency to catalyse the growth of the animation industry, which has been identified by the Jamaica Film Commission as part of its medium-term strategy to encourage non-traditional exports. In November 2011, JAMPRO sponsored and hosted of Animae Caribe Jamaica, which featured workshops by experienced Hollywood animators James Parris and Kristin Solid. In December 2012, JAMPRO provided support to the Japanese embassy in hosting a lecture on manga – the printed cartoons that form the basis of many popular Japanese animated series.

Published Date: 
Thursday, June 13, 2013