HOT TICKET PRODUCTIONS LTD
Nigeria’s first feature-length animation movie, Ladybuckit & the Motley Mopsters, hit cinemas worldwide in December 2020. While it took the team of 29 animators only around 10 months to produce, it was no easy journey. From a slow start to get production going to training animators and upskilling them with the right tools and software, the team behind this movie demonstrated how they overcame the challenges behind producing an animation movie without the proper infrastructure.
Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters was inspired by a casual family moment in 2016. Blessing Amidu, along with her kids, came up with the original characters and their antics and thus began the journey to turn Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters into a movie that would become the first feature-length animation to be produced in Nigeria. After an unsuccessful first attempt to produce the movie, Amidu founded Hot Ticket Productions in 2017. As it was a self-funded project, she chose to have more control over who worked on the project and employed trainer and animator Adebisi Adetayo as the movie’s director, to bring the animation to life. Adetayo who was Director for LBMM is also lead animator for 32ad (Academy Of Art And Design), an independent visual production company based in Nigeria.
“It was no easy task to get the movie off the ground; it took a long time to get the right people with the right skills to get the job done,” says Adetayo. It was hard to find people with the right balance of skill, commitment and integrity. "The biggest challenges we find with productions in Nigeria are the expertise needed to complete the project,” says Adetayo, who also is an Autodesk Licensed Instructor. Because we don’t have many animation schools that offer accreditation here, it’s vital for us to train the people that work with us.
Ladybuckit teaches Tam a lesson.
Storytelling is at the heart of Nigeria’s people, but sharing those stories in a way that appeals to the younger generations is part of what Hot Ticket Productions want to do. With animation, most barriers are broken down, giving Nigerian filmmakers new ways to tell their stories without the massive overheads that live-action production requires. The conventional way of movie-making is very restrictive in terms of the overall production but using the medium of animation has helped us to explore the world of fantasy, and it allowed us to tell the story the way we wanted to, without borders or boundaries. “The Nigerian creative space is growing, but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to exposure to media technology and skills training,” adds Adetayo.
Bukky bites more than she can chew.
One of the biggest challenges that businesses face in Nigeria is the country’s power grid. There’s often only 6 hours of electricity available per day, and many companies supplement their power requirements with solar and battery backups. “When you are running a full production pipeline in animation, you need to be able to be on your computer 24 hours a day. It can be a major challenge when you only have a few hours of power from the national grid each day,” says Adetayo. “Because Autodesk’s solutions offer such an efficient platform to design on, it has made a massive difference in our workflow, and we can get things done much faster than before.”
Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters took about ten months to complete. “It was a very short production pipeline compared to normal feature-length films, and the global pandemic did not make things much easier.” Adetayo and his team had to work day and night to get through production. Adetayo adds that Autodesk’s impressive ray-tracing renderer, Arnold, was also able to render frames in record time, allowing the production team to worry less about rendering issues and spend more time on production quality.
Nigeria’s first feature-length animation was animated entirely in Maya says Adetayo, For animation, Maya is extremely easy and efficient to use thanks to its advanced information systems. The workflow improvements that the Autodesk software brings, especially in improving mundane tasks, means that small production firms like Hot Ticket Productions can deliver the same quality work that used to take a niche Hollywood studio years to complete. Add to this the platform's power once you start scripting custom tools and processes, and there is very little one cannot do with Maya, adds Adetayo. Even though the team had to be upskilled to ensure they had the correct knowledge base to start with, Adetayo says that the simplicity of Maya’s interface made the learning curve much easier for new and intermediate students.
Not all villains wear masks.
Hot Ticket Productions, like many other small companies, not only have to compete on a global stage against budgets far exceeding theirs, but they also face challenges not often found in other countries. The infrastructure issues in Nigeria are but one challenge. Limited training facilities for young people means that it’s so much harder for them to see animation as a viable career path. With Autodesk tools, Nigeria’s local creatives are finding that it’s easier to tell their stories in a way they haven’t been able to do before.