Animation continues to be the star performer of the Irish Film sector.

The evolution of the Irish animation success can be traced back to the 1985 to the arrival of American animator Don Bluth. Having left The Walt Disney Company behind and created a small animation company in Dublin, called Sullivan Bluth Studios – with the assistance of Irish tax incentives. The company went on to make the very successful “An American Tail” and “The Land Before Time”, before it eventually ran into financial difficulties and folding. The lasting benefits from this period was the setting up of an animation course at Ballyfermot Senior College now known as Ballyfermot  College of Further and Higher Education  by Bluth and his colleagues.

Today Ballyfermot has earned a reputation for turning out some of the top animators and visual effects people, its graduates  have gone on to be nominated and won accolades at various film festivals around the world.  Richard Baneham, winning the academy award for Best Visual Effects on Avatar.  Many of the people behind the Secret of Kells nominated for best Animated Feature Film and Granny O’ Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty nomination for Best Short Film Animated.

Over the past 10 years the Irish animation has matured and become internationally recognised for the high standards of the Irish animation sector. Leaving aside the awards the Irish animation sector has been earning its keep. Dubbed the “star performer” of the film and TV industry in the 2009 report of the Audio visual Federation, the sector’s total output reached €38.9 million in 2008, with €43 million estimated for 2009, of which up to 90%  is export driven.  It is now the largest provider of full-time employment in the Irish independent film and television sector, with 337 jobs in 2008 and is continuing to grow. Animation is the only independent audio visual sector which is continuing expand.

Recent Oscar nominations highlighted the vitality and creativity within the Irish animation sector, here’s hoping in the coming years – they can bring home an Oscar.

The recent announcement of a collaborate between the Irish School of Animation (ISA) at Ballyfermot College of Further Education and Trinity College’s Graphics, Vision and Visualisation Group (GV2) and the Giant Creative company, is a further indication of the continued development of this sector.

The production has received support from the Irish Film Board and Science Foundation Ireland. Trinity’s Professor of Visual Computing, Carol O’Sullivan, said: “The result of this exciting collaboration will be a showcase of the best of both institutions in the area of Creative Technologies.” Production will take place in Trinity’s Graphics, Visions and Visualisation (GV2) department and at the Giant Creative’s Studio. Two students from each institution will also do animation, modelling and motion capture on the project. Together they will create a 30 second animation to be completed by August.

Provost of Dr. John Hegarty of Trinity College wished the team well in the project, acknowledging the quality of graduates from both institutions saying “I look forward to viewing the animation on completion of the first project to emanate from this unique partnership between Trinity and Ballyfermot College. Both institutions are producing graduates of world class calibre in very different learning environments. Imagine the impact of having our students join forces in collaborations like this summer animation project. The experience will be invaluable and will spark all forms of new creative influences and dynamics.”

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