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Northern Ireland Screen Foundation Academy for Animation

Animation is a major growth area in the creative industries in Northern Ireland; in response to the high demand for skills and local talent, Northern Ireland Screen has launched a Foundation Academy for Animation.

Administered by the three Creative Learning Centres (CLCs), with Nerve Belfast taking the leading, the Academy is now actively seeking applications.

The Foundation Academy for Animation is open to any young person throughout the region aged 16-19 with the talent and commitment to take up a career within the animation industry.

It offers a unique programme focusing on the skills needed for 2D animation and Stop Motion animation, providing training and hands-on experience of these key roles within the industry. Participants will be introduced to the animation production process, learn about design, have the opportunity to animate characters using industry standard software and visit leading animation studios in Northern Ireland.

In this pilot year, the Foundation Academy for Animation is a partnership between the CLCs and Northern Ireland’s animation companies Sixteen SouthPaper OwlJam Media and Dog Ears. Award-winning local animators, Joel Simon and John McCloskey, will also contribute their talent and expertise.

Richard Williams, CEO, Northern Ireland Screen, said:

“The animation sector in Northern Ireland currently has a 15% share of the UK animation market and there is clear potential to expand.

We want more young people coming into this exciting industry and the Academy is specifically designed to give them real, hands-on experience with award-winning and extremely successful companies who are already working with the likes of Netflix, Nickelodeon, Amazon and CBBC.  It is exceptionally important to develop and keep local talent and this programme could be a direct route into the industry, rather than third level education.  Northern Ireland’s animation sector is very interested in that approach.”

The launch of the new Foundation academy was also welcomed by Emma Fernando, Head of Production at Sixteen South animation company.

“We are extremely proud and excited to be involved with the Animation Academy. It’s absolutely fantastic that Northern Ireland Screen is taking real, practical steps to bridge the gap between education and industry. Getting young people into real studios and being taught by industry professionals is an opportunity like no other.”

The Northern Ireland Screen Foundation Academy for Animation will have two distinct levels.

Foundation level 1

The Foundation Academy will provide training in Stop Motion animation and 2D animation to at least 30 young people in a flexible format of one day or half-day workshops across the region. Participants entering the Foundation Academy at this level can progress to the second level next year if they show enough enthusiasm and commitment.

Foundation level 2 

The Foundation Academy will provide places for 20 young people who are keen to learn 2D Animation skills and can already demonstrate some basic ability to animate. This level of the Foundation Academy will provide creative skills development and technical training in many of the key roles involved in the animation industry, including 2D drawing, rigging, lay-out, digital painting, compositing, in-betweening and storyboarding, as well as producing, production management and screenwriting.

This group will meet on Saturdays and receiving training and guidance from local animation companies Sixteen SouthPaper Owl and Jam Media. A residential will take place in Derry in late November at the workplace of Dog Ears.

This pilot phase of the Foundation Academy will run from November 2018 to the end of March 2019.  The Foundation Academy for Animation is funded by the Department of Communities through Northern Ireland Screen.

Applications Details

Applications to the Northern Ireland Screen Foundation Academy for Animation can be made online at

The deadline for applications is Friday, 26th October and there will be a group selection day on the 30th October at Nerve Belfast Office, Ulidia Resource Centre.

For further information please contact Jennifer McAlorum either by email j.mcalorum@nervecentre.orgor phone 028 90 644333.




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Registration closes on the 3rd August.

Nerve Belfast are hosting an AniJam as part of @anijamuk!
This summer, animators across the UK are invited to take part in the first ever nationwide 48-hour animation challenge. With regional heats in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, a public vote and exclusive prizes up for grabs, AniJam UK aims to inspire and showcase new work from emerging and established talent.

The regional heat for Northern Ireland will take place on Friday 10th – Sunday 12th August. For the competition you will need to have your own equipment/resources/software and facilities in order to complete your animation at home.

Animators aged 18+ can compete for free in teams of 2 to 5 people, creating an original film based on a secret theme. The short films can be in any style of animation and from 15 to 90 seconds in length. Up to three films will be selected from each regional heat to form a shortlist eligible for final awards.

The shortlist will be screened at a range of venues including Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in September, and Manchester Animation Festival in November, and the competition will be opened up to public vote online at

As well as the Public Choice Award, there will be a Grand Prix selected by a panel of industry experts, including representatives from key UK film and animation festivals, studios and organisations such as BAFTA Cymru and the BFI. Prizes include bespoke trophies created by Animation Toolkit, delegate tickets to key UK festivals, and distribution by ShortsTV – ‘the global home of short movies’.

Animators who would like to take part in the AniJam UK challenge should visit for details of venues and the wider programme, and to register a team.

A briefing will be held at Nerve Belfast Ulidia Resource Centre Belfast on Friday 10th August at 11.30. You will be given the secret theme and will then have 48 hours to create an animation, (if you are unable to attend the briefing please make arrangements to Skype/ video call into the meeting)

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