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Animation opportunities in Ireland

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 27, 2012

Animation opportunities in Ireland
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Irish animation sector is going through what one major player calls a “golden age”, winning contracts with the big international networks and production companies and causing great concern for the traditional powerhouses of the cartoon industry.

The multimillion-euro deal just signed between Dublin studio Boulder Media and industry giant Disney, which will immediately create 50 jobs, underlines why animation is being hailed as the “star performer” of the Irish film and TV industry. (click links to search jobs)

Irish studios such as Brown Bag, Jam Media and Boulder are all hiring staff, snapping up talented young Irish animators almost as soon as they graduate from dedicated courses at Ballyfermot College and IADT in Dun Laoghaire. And traditional players in the UK, such as Aardman Studios (Wallace & Gromit) and Ragdoll Productions (Teletubbies) have warned the British government that competition from Ireland and elsewhere could spell “terminal decline” for their animation industry.

The major animation studios in the UK recently met with British Chancellor George Osborne to warn him that the tax breaks given to studios in Ireland, France and Canada are making it increasingly difficult for them to compete. One Manchester-based studio, Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick, is now looking to move at least some of its operations to Ireland, partly to avail of tax-breaks but also to capitalise on the sudden bloom of talent here.

John Rice of Dublin-based Jam Media, currently producing three animated shows for the BBC, says this is something of a “golden age” for Irish animation. “We here at Jam have effectively doubled in size over the past six months. We have grown from around 20 people to employing 45, we are doing three international productions and we’re are still looking for staff. We are out the door busy.”

But the rapidly changing industry means that many of the jobs being created by Jam and other Irish companies revolve around content creation, software development and production focused on new platforms and devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Irish companies are now as focused on creating content for iPhone and Android apps as much as turning out 10-minute cartoons.

Dublin studio Boulder Media has just made headlines by signing a two year deal with Disney to produce 52 episodes of the new cartoon series Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja which will be seen in 130 countries later this year. It’s the latest success for Boulder, which has previously worked on Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball, Nickelodeon’s El Tigre, and farther back, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

Joe O’Shea, The Irish Independent, 26/3/2012

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