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Blender makes 3D animation training more accessible in South Africa

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Blender is making more and more inroads in the industry. An animation school is starting next year that will be utilizing Blender as their core 3D animation training software. It started with an engineer training his son 3D animation on Blender at home. His son is now well-entrenched in the 3D animation film industry... and that through a Blender-based show reel!

If you only want to find out about the more about the animation course, which is starting in Somerset West in the Western Cape, South Africa, jump to the second half of the article. But you risk losing out on the interesting beginnings of the school :-)

Beginnings

It all started when Allan's son wanted to enter the 3D animation industry. They researched the local industry and found it 1) exorbitantly expensive for what you get and 2) a logistic nightmare due to the distance and traffic to the nearest animation school. So they decided to do it from home...

The lions sleep tonight - Acrylic painting by Allan

As an artist who has sold some paintings, Allan appreciated the value of a solid art foundation in 3D animation, so he sent his son on a 1-year art course during daytime. Working as an Engineer in daytime, Allan had started training himself in Blender after-hours, initially form the Blender 2.3 on-line manual, but later from the now-renown Blender 2.3 book. In the evenings and over weekends, he then taught his son Blender. His son created a demo reel using Blender.

Allan reckons there is no compromise for methodically working through a structured training course. When he taught himself, he initially wanted to skip parts of the book, but he disciplined himself to cover and understand every subject. That later paid off when his first-ever TV production after completing the book became a top-10 finalist in South Africa's VUKA! awards, which was featured on BlenderNation.

Storming Elephant - Acrylic painting by Allan

In the mean time, his son got into the South African 3D animation film industry... using his Blender-based showreel!

Allan did not sit idle: he resigned as engineer and went into full-time 3D modeling and animation, using Blender of course! In between, he also started giving short courses in Cape Town, Johannesburg and even Nigeria. He also went on to become a Blender Foundation Certified Trainer and has recently completed an animation lecturing stint at a local University.

2-year course starting in 2009

South Africa's animation industry is taking off, with the first 3D animated movies rolling off the production line – especially in the Western Cape! The good news is that even more movies are in the pipeline and that the local animation industry is experiencing a huge shortage of animators! The bad news is that 3D animation training tends to be quite expensive, but Allan wants to change that...

Allan now wants to make his "lessons learnt" available to more people: he uses Blender to make animation training accessible by providing top quality, but more affordable courses. He has proven that Blender does not have to stand back for any software to gain entry into the animation industry, and once there, understanding animation principles is more important than the software anyway, because you will be changing animation software regularly. And Blender is standing there with the best nowadays too!

Training a class in Johannesburg

But it won't stop there. Over the course of two years:

  • They will start off by laying a proper art foundation, as Allan believes that - although you may be able to animate - you will never excel at animation if you can't draw properly.
  • Using Blender, they will teach you the animation principles thoroughly. This is where Allan will guide you with the discipline he used to train himself 3D animation and the insight his engineering studies at university gave him into modeling, materials, lighting, water simulation, SSS, etc.
  • Once you understand and can apply the animation principles, they will provide you with a conversion course if you want to learn other software too
  • They will assist you to create a proper show reel, which is really the only way you gain entrance into the animation industry - a certificate or diploma guarantees nothing.
Somerset West ocean view

Ocean view from Somerset West

He will be providing training in Somerset West, situated in the Helderberg Basin, but next to the ocean and also very close to the winelands of Stellenbosch... far away from the city traffic.

Allan's company, DNA Pixels, will give a presentation on Thursday evening at 19:00, 9 October 2008 at Designguru, situated at Unit 9, Fairview Centre, Caledon Street, Somerset West. Please call to reserve a seat.

To find out more or have a look at the curriculum, go to DNA Pixels' web site at www.dnapixels.com (under learning) or contact Allan at [email protected] or 082 901 8014 (in South Africa).

9 Comments

  1. The funny thing is, and this true by the way, there is no decent course for 3d animation . this industry just started now. I would love having a carreer in animation (hint hint)
    Therefor. thankyou for starting something like this, my only regret is that I'm in johannesburg , wich is rather far from the western cape ;(

  2. That is fantastic news from start to finish!

    On a different continent as far as helping / visiting, but all the best with the course!

  3. This is really fantastic news!! I would love to get started in animation. Will definately be looking at this as an option

  4. An animation school so close, okay 1200 kilometres close. man I wish I was still in matric deciding what the hell to do with my life, had to settle for mech eng at UCT. Good luck with the school, plus you have one killer location going for you.

  5. crazyjack: you can always come to the Cape for 2 years. Only problem is - you may never want to return to GP! All the sun, the surf and the sea! And - BTW - to top it all: the 3D animation movie industry is down here, man!

    Ben: thanks for the great wishes

    Darius Hall: Keep in touch

    tyrant monkey: As you read, I started in Electronics Engineering at Pretoria University, moved over to software development - and look where I ended! Unless your passion is mech eng, I suggest you move over to animation sooner rather than later :-) Once this bug bites you, it does not go away!

  6. Anymation: Hehe, I prefer it up here, u know ur alive with all the hijackings, crime and taxis.
    I'll get old there in cpt :-)

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