Animation festival attracts big players

Peter Ramsey, who won an Oscar for his film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, talks to fans about the process behind the production.

An Oscar-winning Marvel movie director had Spidey senses tingling at a weekend animation festival in Observatory.

Hundreds of animation fans flocked to the eighth Cape Town International Animation Festival at the River Club, where Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse director Peter Ramsey spoke about the magic of using animation to tell stories that connect people.

“Creating animation stories that are specific to the real world of the character, that feel real, can connect people more with love, empathy and culture,” he said.

Top international animation studios and South African animators were at the festival, but Ramsey was the biggest draw-card.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse won the Oscar for Best Animated Movie, last month.

Ramsey shared the Oscar glory with Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman who co-directed and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who wrote the screenplay.

And it took a much bigger team – a crew of 800, including 180 animators – almost three years to finish the first big-screen feature-length animated film of the much-beloved Marvel comic book character.

“We were brave and stupid enough to make mistakes over and over until we got the look of it right,” Ramsey said.

During a workshop, he went into extreme detail about his film, including in-depth analysis of character observation, scene building, location development, character animation of faces and how to use colours effectively.

This advice from Ramsey and the other international animators at the festival proved to be inspirational stuff for South African animators who are fast building solid global reputations of their own.

Jason Burrows, from Sea – Monster studio in Woodstock, said: “They inspire us to work harder, work better, to do more interesting, creative and experimental things.”

Shannon Taylor, a freelance animator who created a trailer for the festival, said she was thrilled with how the festival was growing. The South African animation industry was making an impact internationally, she said.

“People around the world are saying that South Africa has got something to offer,” she said.

This was Rowan Govender’s fourth festival, and he said it never failed to impress.

“The people from overseas who make these films, can come to South Africa and say that we can do this,” he said.

Festival director Diane Makings said: “It’s overwhelming to see how many South Africans love South African and African animation. The festival is a reflection of the industry. The industry is about to make it globally, so the festival is starting to attract big players to the centre.”