Tag Archives: Smids Animation Studios

Animator Dami Solesi’s MipTV honour

Dami Solesi, CEO and creative director at Lagos-based Smids Animation Studios, talks to Content Nigeria about her participation in next month’s MipTV, the global industry event taking place from April 4 to 6 in Cannes, France.

Dami Solesi

You have been selected as a Producer to Watch at MipTV 2022. How does this impact you as an animator?
I am very excited to have been selected for the second time as a Producer to Watch in 2022. It’s a testament to the great work we are doing in the animation space, telling African stories to kids around the world, and to be recognised by a platform like MipTV is a big deal for us.

Can you tell us about your involvement in MipTV and your views about the event?
It will be my first time in Cannes and at MipTV. In 2020, I attended virtually because of the pandemic, so I’m excited to be there physically this year. I am also excited to attend all the events and, more importantly, have productive meetings with industry professionals. We have new shows that we will be taking to Cannes and we are excited for the possibilities and partnerships we will strike. MipTV is one of the largest content markets in the world so we are looking forward to doing business.

As an inspiring Nigerian animator impacting kids through your work, how has your journey been so far?
My journey in animation has been a great and challenging one. I started Smids Animation Studios 11 years ago, and it’s been great to watch the industry grow from nothing to what it is today. And we have only just started our journey and evolution as a company; we haven’t scratched the surface of what we have in store.

Smid’s animated short film Onyà

Can you tell us about your animated short film Onyà?
Onyà is an amazing animated short film about the journey of a little girl into a creative world as she battles a known foe. Onyà in the Igbo language means trap. This short film was directed by our art director Micheal Okoroagha and it premiered at the Rendacon festival on December 12 last year. It’s currently going through the festival round this year and once that’s done we will have an official YouTube release for it later this year.

Can you tell us about your other new projects?
We have three amazing new series currently in different stages of production. One is called Uyi and tells a story about a lovable but tricky tortoise and his friend, a curious and inquisitive bird. The show follows their many adventures as Uyi finds the best ways to outsmart everyone. The second is called Abi’s Mission while the third is called Makerbolts, which is about three friends who create fun and exciting adventures in an abandoned junkyard.

Makerbolts

What challenges do you think the animation industry is facing today in Africa?
There are quite a number of challenges in Nigeria and Africa. One of the very first is talent; we still have a long way to go in terms of talent development in order to support the pipeline of projects coming through and to build a formidable animation industry. We need to think actively about our talent development strategy and plan years in advance. We are currently using the internship model but we look forward to a day when we have a proper education structure, like an animation diploma, that provides basic skills for graduates to be industry-ready. This is not far off and with the right partnerships this can happen.

There is also a lack of local funding to support animation, which is caused by a lack of understanding of the animation industry and how expensive animation is compared to live-action. Also the lack of coproduction treaties makes sourcing funds from foreign countries tricky. And lastly, there are all the challenges that come with running a business in Nigeria, such as power outages and security.

Should African animators do more in the coproduction sector?
Collaborations like these are crucial for us as creators. More African creators need to collaborate in order to do bigger production and increase reach. It is very important and we are looking forward to more collaborations in the future. We have a few in the works and we will share as soon as we can.

Smids Animation Studios was rated by the Ernst & Young Industry Report 2019 as being in the top two animation companies in Nigeria. Smids is also the first Nigerian animation studio to be selected as a finalist at the Animation du Monde at Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

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Smids Animation marks 11th anniversary

Lagos-based Smids Animation Studios, which makes kids’ and family entertainment content, celebrated its 11th anniversary earlier this week by teasing news of new projects in the coming months.

Dami Solesi

Founded by Dami Solesi, Smids Animation’s productions include The Makerbolts, Zooom and Boxed. The company was selected to represent Africa at the Animation du Monde Finals in 2019, while Solesi was selected as a juror for the International Emmy Awards last year.

Solesi wrote on Instagram: “Yay! We are 11 years. Eleven years ago, in a living room in Abuja, I made up my mind and put everything I had been paid in the last 12 months as a youth corp member into starting Smids Animation Studios. At the time, it was the highest point of my life. I had loved cartons and games all my life, and now I was going to make my entire life about the very thing I loved.

“Looking back 11 years now, we have grown from one little dream to becoming a force in children’s content in Nigeria and perhaps Africa. We now have shows that are on TV (Ugo and Simsim), hit hundreds of thousands of views across all social media platforms, showcased on a global stage (Annecy 2019- Makerbolt), [and have a series] currently showing on satellite TV (Boxed).”

Hinting at future announcements, Solesi added: “Over the next eight weeks, we will be making massive announcements about our next couple of projects. It’s taking everything in me to not spill the beans but in due time we will let you all know.”

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Women animators discuss their journey

Yetunde Ogundipe, Dami Solesi, Emy Yugbovwre and Korede Johnson

Lagos-based Basement Animation Studio held a panel session this week with leading Nigerian women working in animation to discuss the theme ‘My Journey as a Woman in Animation.’

The session took place on March 8 in Lagos to mark International Women’s Day. It explored participants’ journeys in the sector as well as the opportunities it offers to women.

The discussion was led by Korede Johnson (Basement Animation) while other panel members included Dami Solesi (Smids Animation Studios), Yetunde Ogundipe (Beereel Pictures) and Emy Yugbovwre (Ajebotoons Studio).

Ajebotoons founder Yugbovwre said her first project had been the Nigerian cartoon Bino & Fino. This helped her see what was happening in the animation scene and made her realise African animation is accepted all over the world.

Solesi, CEO and creative director of Lagos-based Smids Animation Studios, started loving games as a child, which inspired her to create them. Having studied computer science and taken online lessons and read books, she started up her own business in animation.

Filmmaker Ogundipe, CEO of Beereel Pictures, ventured into advertising and production before falling in love with stop-motion animation, using her passion to develop her talent over time.

Regarding her inspiration, Yugbovwre said: “I loved watching cartoons growing up, and drawing. I love 2D animation and it was after my university days that I realised cartoons were actually animation.”

Discussing the challenges faced in the industry beyond infrastructure and power issues, Yugbovwre said the ones she faced were personal, since she had not been supported by her family.

Solesi said: “My challenges were more of family apprehension, but over time they came around. As a woman in animation, it’s been tough and challenging.”

Ogundipe said: “In Nigeria, no one wants to take risks. Stop-motion animation is not new but it is strange to so many people.”

She added that people often do not appreciate what it involves and so there was a need to educate them. Her challenge was that stop-motion animation was not a common style, so people felt they did not need it.

Solesi attributed her success to a combination of many things including people at her university, a good network beyond the animation industry and mentors from Nigerian non-profit organisation WinBiz. “We are still in the early stage of building the business so it’s been tough, but having that support system has been of great help,” she added.

Yugbovwre said she learnt a lot from YouTube and other tutorial websites. She encouraged people to make use of the internet to gain knowledge.

Ogundipe said: “I had challenge with animation because I had no drawing skill, but I realised I had to go beyond what I was doing. I challenged myself to take it further, think big and look for ways to execute.”

The three speakers agreed that, despite the challenges, building a career in animation is worthwhile. Yugbovwre said: “I have thought of quitting many times but it’s been worth it and I have enjoyed the journey so far.”

Ogundipe added: “It’s been very interesting and I have always fought for something different and new. Nigeria is filled with problems that we can solve. Women in animation are few but there are lots of opportunities to take advantage of as women.”

Solesi said: “It’s a challenging profession. It is also capital-intensive and although we are on the right path, we haven’t gotten there yet. The animation industry is changing and a lot of things are happening.”

As to what drives women in animation, the panel noted that determination to show women can make a difference, passion and a can-do spirit were some of the factors responsible.

They called on women to push ahead, ignore discouragement, focus on what they can offer, join support groups and understand that animation is a broad discipline.

“This is the best time. Engage in internships, grow your skills, develop yourselves and make use of opportunities,” Solesi concluded.

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Dami Solesi joins Int’l Emmys jury

Dami Solesi, CEO and creative director of Lagos-based Smids Animation Studios, has been selected as a juror for this year’s International Emmy Awards.

Dami Solesi

Revealing the news on her Instagram page, Solesi said: “I’m proud to be a juror for the 2020 International Emmy Awards. This is a huge deal.”

The annual awards are bestowed by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in recognition of the best non-US TV content.

In the email confirming Solesi’s place on the jury, the event organiser said: “Despite the current worldwide situation, the academy is doing its best to ensure the competition is running on its usual schedule.”

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