Here’s the second part in the series about the creation of the Nigerian Bino and Fino educational cartoon project. The 1st part can be located here. I’m going to talk about the decisions made about the production method and cartoon design.
I have many goals for this project. One of those, when we started, was to get a product to market at all costs. That’s the only way you know if you have a viable product the market likes. I had been keeping my eyes on the Nigerian animation sector for over 6 years now. Mainly through a forum called Nairaland. It’s a meeting place for Nigerians and there’s a graphics section where animators , comic artists, cameramen, photographers and everything in between meet to discuss and show off skills.
A theme that kept repeating itself was the failure or stalling of the majority of the animation projects in Nigeria. Some of it was due to the fact that some of the animators didn’t really understand what it takes to produce long form animation (we’re still learning ourselves in my studio). Which makes sense as the sector is so young. A lot of it was and still is to do with:
Lack of resources,
The slow tedious process of producing good animation/cartoons
The Nigerian working environment and every other challenge that faces most Nigerian SMEs and one man businesses.
Lack of professionalism
Lack of cooperation
Lack of business support
Lack of distribution channels that gave return on investment
So I knew the odds were stacked against the project already. So I looked at the closest business model in the creative sector which had succeeded against all odds. That was Nollywood. Whether one likes the majority of Nollywood’s output you cannot deny that they have created a billion Naira industry out of nothing in the same harsh Nigerian working environment. I had to look at how they operated. The key things I got that were crucial were speed and turnover. A producer can pump out 4-10 movies per month. Get them to market , sell and move on before it’s pirated like mad.
The problem is animation is slow, tedious and labour intensive. I’ve worked on projects where it took 3 months to produce 5 minutes of footage. Obviously that wouldn’t work in the Nigerian context. The animation method many of the Nigerian animators were using to try and produce long films etc is one called 3D animation. Simply it’s the method used to produce animated films like Toy Story and the Incredibles. This method needs many computers because the mathematics involved for the processors to calculate is huge. Plus the computers have to be running 24-7. As we don’t have constant electricity in most parts of Nigeria I calculated that the diesel and generator maintenance costs would cripple the little project budget we had. I did not have the courage of my fellow Nigerian animators and opted out of the 3D race!
We decided to use a the 2D method of animation. This is the method used to produce shows like Ben 10, The Simpsons and Dora the Explorer. With this method you usually need a team of 30-65 artists to crank out a season’s worth of content. However some computer software enables you to bypass that problem to a degree. Also 2D can be a more spontaneous way of working especially when it comes to creating colourful, unique worlds that kids love.
That’s how we settled on the method and style for the Bino and Fino cartoon. 🙂