By Paul Ndiho, Washington DC
The Animation Industry in Africa is still in its infancy. They are very few animated TV series or 3D movies originating from the continent. However, the growing demand for locally produced content is bringing about change. Solomon Jagwe, a Ugandan – American animator and 3D graphics artist, is leading way.
Mr. Jagwe is arguably one of Uganda’s most sought after animators. He’s the producer and creative director of the hit animated TV Series adventures Nkoza, Nankya.
“Right now the two main projects that I am working on are one has been going on for a long time that is Galiwango the animated film, but my main focus right now is the animated TV series the adventures of Nkoza and Nankya. It’s about this little girl and a boy who are based in Uganda, Africa. The inspiration comes from having two kids a boy and a girl, my daughter called Jasmine and my son is Solomon.
Jagwe says he wants to create content that young children in Uganda or elsewhere in Africa can relate too. He hopes to take advantage of what experts say is an untapped market opportunity in the region.
“The setting of the series is in Uganda. Nkoza’s character is that of a little boy who is very inventive, he likes to create things. It reminds me of myself when I was kid. We did not have a lot of toys, so I used to make my own toys from wires, Colgate boxes and even little reels to make like TV screens… And Nankya on the other hand, she is very ambitious, very creative, she loves to read, and she loves to travel and also has an artistic background.
With a keen interest in animation, 3D graphics design and web development, the Ugandan-born Jagwe says the industry is not without its difficulties especially as he’s trying to make his mark in a burgeoning industry.
“The challenge is the time it takes to render 3D environments and characters but also funding you know because when you have the money, you can invest in more team members so that you can create more things, 3D animation is very labor intensive, the character animation its self, the modeling, the texture mapping, the rigging its extremely labor intensive and right now I have a team of people who are volunteering I would love to be able to hire more people to help with the work load.”
Solomon Jagwe began the production of “adventures Nkoza and Nankya. ” nearly two years ago, taking on an intricate process that involved drawing images on paper, scanning them and turning them into digital renditions.
“I usually try to use like quick strokes, I put a smile on a character, the nose, I try to draw the eyes real quick, put the eye brows and then I try to emphasize on the eye lashes and I always try to capture the emotion. So it doesn’t take long to do the sketching.”
Besides creating the animated series, he is also an avid painter – and likes to donate his paintings for social causes. The animation industry is booming and television broadcasting houses are looking for originally produced local content.
Industry analysts say that for budding animators on the continent the sky is the limit because broadcasting houses are always yearning for local content.