January 3, 2011 – Kenya will next week host one of the creators of the epic science fiction movie ‘Avatar” which is the highest grossing film in history.
Yvonne Muinde, who is Kenyan, is on Monday next week expected to give a talk on how the country can fuel the development of the visual effects industry, an event that stakeholders hope will also provide an opportunity for exploring ways of scaling up talent in the sector.
“We have invited one of Avatar makers to speak on the marriage of IT, animation, film and music to create one of the fastest growing modern industry, Visual Effects,” said Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo.
Ms Muinde 34, who is said to be in the country ahead of the talk, is a painter and feature films matte painter’. She had a hand in the backgrounds for the award-winning movie and has also featured in other box office animated productions such as King Kong and The Fantastic Four.
According to Wikipedia, the 2009 3D movie which was written and directed by renowned James Cameron broke several box office records and raked in Sh160 billion surpassing Titanic, which had held the records for the previous 12 years.
The meeting in Nairobi next week will bring together all industry players including animators, movie makers, graphic designers, sketch artists, gamers and musicians, a move that industry players say will provide a platform for addressing the sector’s bottlenecks in a holistic manner.
In an emailed invite to local bloggers, the PS expressed optimism that in the ‘roundtable’ meeting, players would brainstorm on the best way to unlock the huge opportunities that the sector portends and develop it into one of the fastest growing industries.
The government’s priority Dr Ndemo said is to build capacity which will help turn around the virgin sector and in effect turn the idle labour in the country into economic use.
“God willing, 2011 shall be our busiest year ever,” he enthused.
The New Zealand based Kenyan said in an earlier interview with Kimani wa Wanjiru, the Managing Director of Kymsnet Media Network, that all local enthusiasts need is “exposure and knowledge and production opportunities” to grow the visual effects industry.
“I think there is a catch as we need opportunities to prove that people can do this work but we need the skill level of those doing the work to improve and build confidence in our ability as a people to create works that rival those made in other countries around the world,” the matte painter reckoned.
“There is no lack of imagination in Kenya but there will need to be support from everywhere,” she added.
There has been an attempt in the country to train interested parties in 2D and or 3D digital Animation concepts, artists and graphic designers as seen by the establishment of several Art and Design schools in the country.
Such efforts to nurture the industry and develop local content have seen the production of ‘Tinga tinga Tales’ which is an animation series of African folk tales.
ICT Consumers Association Chairman Alex Gakuru sees the country’s migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, coupled with the operationalisation of the fibre optic cables as providing employment opportunities for thousands of youths as well as a chance for them to become world renowned movie producers.
He opined that the country needs to appreciate and nurture its local talent in ICT and not only recognise them “when and after they have made a mark internationally”.