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Triggerfish Animation, an award-winning Cape Town based studio, used Autodesk API’s to produce its hit films Zambezia (2012) and Khumba (2013). Autodesk’s APIs uses various custom tools to enhance the animation process and speed up productivity; Autodesk’s Shotgun software keeps project deadlines in check, while Autodesk Maya allows trainers to focus on customised workflows. With Autodesk’s new licensing models, Triggerfish pays for the workstations they use only, and which can be increased when and how additional workstations are needed. Autodesk software saves Triggerfish time and money and is a key contributor to the success of Triggerfish’s animations’ films.
Triggerfish Animation Studios is a Cape Town based animation film studio best known for its two hit animation films, Adventures in Zambezia (2012) and Khumba (2013). Although it’s a state-of-the-art CG studio today, the company has its roots in stop-motion animation. Triggerfish produces children’s entertainment in the form of animated feature films and broadcast content for some of the biggest broadcasters and distributors on the planet.
Triggerfish Animation Studios has won numerous awards, including a Cristal award for best TV special for Stickman (2016) and Revolting Rhymes (2017), an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s poems which take a different look at the most classic fairytales. In 2018, Revolting Rhymes was also nominated for an Oscar and won best animation at the British Academy Children’s Awards as well as an International Emmy Kids Award for Animation.
With animation projects that can last upwards of two years, the technology used an essential factor in ensuring success. Triggerfish always investigates new technologies before starting a new project to ensure it uses the best on the market.
“With every new project we usually take a look at the latest technologies in the industry to see what is available for us to use, at the moment Maya is the most broad-based 3D animation package on the market” says Mike Buckland, Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios. “It fulfils most of the requirements we have for making high-end animation.”
Working with local Autodesk Platinum partner, Modena Media and Entertainment, the team at Triggerfish can get the support they need for their teams to operate efficiently. “We’ve helped Triggerfish develop their pipeline with Autodesk and we offer support to keep them running at full capacity” says Stacey Pearson at Modena Media and Entertainment.
“We have a slightly more guerrilla-style approach to making movies; we can’t just throw money at it. We always need to figure out how to make the most of what we have.”
—Mike Buckland, Producer, Triggerfish Animation Studios
Working with local Autodesk Gold Partner, Modena Media and Entertainment, the team at Triggerfish get the support they need for their teams to operate efficiently. “We’ve helped Triggerfish develop their pipeline with Autodesk and we offer support to keep them running at full capacity” says Stacey Pearson at Modena M&E.
Modena M&E offer Autodesk Solutions tailored for the Media and Entertainment industries, which enables their clients to translate their ideas from concept to reality. The value of Modena M&E is visible in how their people stretch themselves to offer clients products that showcase the media industry’s exuberant creativity.
Modena M&E sales and technical staff have a long-standing reputation as trusted partners to the creative industry, promoting solutions to industry professionals, production companies, post-production, broadcast, animation, architecture, gaming and visual effects industries. Modena M&E offices are based in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
When Triggerfish adopted Autodesk Shotgun as their project management system, they were able to manage and track collaborative projects across 3 different countries.
“This would have been almost impossible with the previous system that we’d developed in-house. We’ve also been able to integrate it very deeply into Maya which has simplified the workflow for artists, automating many behind the scenes processes, reducing the opportunity for error and saving time for the creative team.”
Triggerfish makes use of the powerful Maya animation software to model characters, props and sets. Animation and environments are brought together in a process called Finaling, a routine that will check for any technical glitches and optimize shots before handing them on to the Lighting and Rendering teams. The Triggerfish lighting team use Maya and Autodesk’s Arnold rendering engine to add life to each frame.
Challenges can easily be converted to solutions thanks to Autodesk’s deep customisable functionality. For animation studios like Triggerfish, it’s important to be able to create custom solutions for the software they use.
Thanks to Autodesk’s APIs, Triggerfish has been able to create various custom tools to enhance their animation process and speed up productivity. “We often see improvement in efficiency with the updates that are pushed out, so we look at these new features closely to see how we can take advantage of it” says Buckland. “It’s great to see the capabilities of the software improving with each new version”
Any business that scales over a short period of time, face a number of growing pains that needs to be addressed in order to successfully master the sudden growth. For Triggerfish, recruiting new animators are a critical part of their growing process.
Fortunately, Autodesk Maya is an industry standard for computer animation and is taught as a subject in most educational institutions. When graduates enter the work environment for the first time, trainers at Triggerfish can focus on introducing them to the customized workflows rather than showing students how to use the software.
Next to staff, software is one of Triggerfish’s biggest expenses. “It’s essential for us to have these software tools but at the same time we need to extract as much value as we can” says Buckland.
The new pricing model offered by Autodesk also makes it easy for small businesses to afford the software while giving flexibility to those organisations that are over 100 people. Should a company like Triggerfish scale rapidly, it’s easy to add additional licenses to cover the new workstations.
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