17/01/22 • News & Happenings

The Lightbulb Moment

With Aninka Badenhorst

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Aninka Badenhorst, Line Producer

Working in animation can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Artists get to be creative and express themselves through the medium, while the work they produce can go on to spark great joy in others. Most of us have experienced such a spark, storing those little moments of joy in our memory banks, revisiting them often to savour that glorious feeling over and over again. Sometimes, this spark can ignite a flame deep within – such as the desire to create similar moments for other people.

For some animators, that initial spark may not even come from their own first-hand experience, but from witnessing someone else’s and being able to relate to the feeling. Such is the case for Aninka Badenhorst, line producer at Lighthouse Studios.

Here is the story of her Lightbulb Moment.

“As an introverted only child, the movie theatre was my happy place. It was a place I could experience adventures, laughter, and even a few tears – all the things which animation also gives me. It was also the place where I made the decision to work in animation – a moment I’ll never forget.

I was in my mid-twenties, and had just studied something else, but I knew it wasn’t for me. Tangled was playing in my local theatre, and I went to see it. To set the scene, Tangled was a new approach for Disney, who wanted to create a unique artistic style that blended together the features of CGI and traditional animation while using non photo realistic rendering to create the impression of a painting. It was Glen Keane, who gave us Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, who spearheaded this idea because he himself loved the fluidity of traditional animation and did not want to lose this in this film. I feel that this is what gave this film such a wonderful unique touch and what made it connect with audiences worldwide.

Anyway, I was sitting there watching the movie when the lantern scene came on. For those who haven’t seen the movie, the characters are in Rapunzel’s hometown, at night in the dark, when out of nowhere these lanterns start to float up to the sky. Gradually, more and more lanterns appear until the area is filled with these beautiful glowing lanterns, all while this beautiful melody plays in the background. All of a sudden, the little girl sitting next to me jumped up, full of wonder and excitement, and called out to her father at what was happening on screen.

There was something in that little girl’s reaction that reminded me of myself when I was young. It ignited that spark in me of wanting to give children – and adults – that same sense of wonder, happiness and adventure. I knew instantly that I wanted to create that special moment for a child one day and that animation was the path I wanted to follow.

This film – and all films I had watched growing up – influenced my career choices in that I always made sure to be involved in projects that would connect with children or families in a unique way – and as a result I have always worked on productions where stories are being told in an exciting new way.”

Aninka Badenhorst currently works with Lighthouse Studios as a line producer on Little Ellen. Her career started around 8 years ago, when she got her first job in the animation industry as an intern, quickly working her way up to becoming VFX Production Manager within a few months. Working at the top animation studio in South Africa, Triggerfish Animation, Aninka was part of projects such as Revolting Rhymes, Highway Rat and Zog as well as feature film, Seal Team (now available on Netflix), before moving into the world of 2D and taking on her new role at Lighthouse.

For anyone looking for a deep dive into the world of Disney, Aninka recommends The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

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