04/03/20 • Animation Insights

Animation in Ireland

An Overview of the Recent Report From Screen Skills Ireland And What To Expect From The Industry

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Ireland is historically a nation of storytellers, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Irish audiovisual sector has really taken off over recent years. With screen content being one of the fastest growing sectors globally, we are not likely to slow down any time soon. Irish animation in particular has gone from strength to strength in recent years. However, as this demand for content grows, so too does the need to attract and retain top class talent – a struggle felt by all areas of the creative industries.

 

Challenges within the animation industry

ScreenSkills Ireland is responsible for ensuring the ongoing upskilling and development of Ireland’s audiovisual sectors. As such, it runs regular studies to identify areas for improvement. Recently, the organisation released two reports which provided an overview of the current situation within the sector. Dublin and Kilkenny were found to dominate in terms of employment opportunities – a fine testament to the fact that Kilkenny has been evolving into a centre of excellence for animation over recent years, thanks to the work of both Cartoon Saloon and ourselves here at Lighthouse. Unfortunately, coupled with this finding is the statistic that 88% of those in hiring positions have cited difficulty in finding suitably qualified crew for projects.

 

A picture of Kieran's College, home to Lighthouse Studios

Could you see yourself working in our studio?

Perhaps this is one reason for last year’s revised guidelines concerning the Section 481 tax incentive, which allows for filmmakers to claim a tax credit of 32% of eligible production expenditure. The new guidelines stipulate that any productions with over €2m of eligible expenditure must not only submit a formalised plan outlining their proposed training and upskilling measures to relevant bodies, but also provide documentary evidence of such training throughout the process, working towards specific goal outcomes. Although this may seem somewhat restrictive and time consuming, it echoes managers’ preferred methods of upskilling. In fact, 77% of line managers cited on the job training as being a preferred solution to the skills shortage.

Training Programmes

Screen Skills Ireland has also been developing courses and training programmes and last year launched the new ‘Production Management for Animation’ programme in collaboration with IADT Dun Laoghaire. Aside from its general training programmes which focus on a broad range of skills such as scriptwriting, directing and camerawork, Screen Skills Ireland also has a significant number of courses specifically developed for the animation sector. Such courses include;

 

  • An Introduction to Editing for Animation Using Adobe Premiere
  • Visual Storytelling Skills for Animation Storyboard Artists
  • Toon Boom Harmony – Character Animation Workshop
  • Assistant Editing for Animated Features

 

The organisation also offers access to high-quality Graduate Traineeships that run each year between November and April. As a key partner for this traineeship, Lighthouse Studios provides graduates with the environment they need for their skills to flourish and their talent to shine. The goal is always to bring them with us on to a production, providing them with a route to becoming a Junior Artist (and beyond!) once the traineeship comes to a close.

 

Screen Skills Ireland workshops are mainly based in Dublin, though due to the high number of people working within the animation industry here in Kilkenny we are often able to host private in-house Screen Skills (and Animation Skillnet) training sessions, along with Cartoon Saloon as co-hosts. We also recognise the importance of capturing early interest and work alongside second-level education providers to offer a feel for what working in the animation industry is actually like. The creative industries require core business skills just like any other, which is why we look at providing access to talks and round table discussions featuring not just animators but also other departments across the business.

 

Action Plan

 

Screen Skills Ireland also released a 10-point action plan for 2020-2025. This action plan identifies focus areas for training and development over the coming five years but also pledges to drive cultural change by increasing diversity withing the sector and removing barriers to entry. On top of the core skills development opportunities, there will also be training programmes designed to encourage participants to be aware of unconscious bias and develop their emotional intelligence.

 

We frequently run in-house training courses, like our Director’s Course last year.

While the need for training in this area is not exclusive to the animation industry, the technical skills shortage we are encountering in Ireland means that we often must look to other countries, both EU and non-EU, for talented individuals to come and work with us. This makes the animation sector one of the most diverse sectors in terms of different cultural backgrounds and experiences, something that we at Lighthouse are very proud of with our current crew consisting of twenty different nationalities! However, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. That is why we offer access to training courses that not only enable our crew to brush up on their English language skills, but also provide guidance for cultural professionalism. Company-wide, we also have a policy whereby new joiners partake in a Dignity & Respect workshop led by an independent, external HR Consultant who comes on-site and delivers training on how to conduct oneself in the workplace. Along with Cartoon Saloon we also offer managerial workshop sessions on Emotional Intelligence to enable our crew managers to become better leaders.

 

Screen Skills Ireland has also stated their intention to increase funding levels within the sector, influence policy and to provide advice for funding bodies to ensure initiatives are relevant and of quality.

 

Looking Forward

With the support of Screen Skills Ireland and other key bodies within the industry, such as Animation Ireland, the animation sector in the country looks set to grow from strength to strength – exciting times for all ahead.

 

As Lighthouse celebrates its third birthday this month, we are also looking forward to executing on our own action plan for developing talent within the industry. To complement our current learning and development plan, we are collaborating with third level education providers to offer a segue into the exciting world of animation. We already have much success working alongside Screen Skills Ireland and are excited about the possibilities future collaborations will bring.

 

However, another big goal of ours is to enable senior artists with a more traditional skillset to switch over to using digital technology. We are therefore exploring a potential additional collaboration with ETB whereby we can offer these highly skilled individuals the means to add another string to their bow through completion of a conversion course which will upskill their existing talent.

 

We are also designing a course to roll out to management later this year which will further expand on the Emotional Intelligence training mentioned earlier. This management training will help our in-house leaders develop their leadership skills and assist them in areas of team-building, recruitment and more.

 

Interested in finding out more about our multi-faceted training programmes? We will be taking an in-depth look at Lighthouse Studio’s inner workings in an upcoming blog – stay tooned to find out more!

 

You can read more about Screen Skills Ireland’s latest reports here.
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