Plans for the fourth staging of Kingston’s first animation festival, KingstOOn, were well under way when Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19 last year. Forced to return to the drawing board to facilitate this year’s staging, the organizers were faced with a new challenge of transitioning from a physical projection to an online broadcast. Yet although it has to start from scratch, when it comes to organizing, the show’s designers today report that KingstOOn 2021 has been the biggest show yet.
“This year’s staging was not without its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest issues we had was that we were already deep into planning for last year’s physical event when COVID-19 hit our shores. We then had to give up pretty much all of those plans and start over. Everything going virtual, we knew we had to revamp KingstOOn to fit into the online space, and we really wanted to make sure that whatever we do, we stay true to the mandate of the animation festival, which is to create the best opportunities for our participants who are our future animators, ”said Margery Newland, youth employment project manager in the Digital and Animation Industries project. The Sunday Gleaner.
Newland said the digital staging of the event brought in record numbers. “What the virtual event allowed us to do is reach a larger audience than we did at past festivals. In the first 48 hours of this year’s show, we had an average of 3,500 registrations, and when we compared that to last year, then we had an average of 800 registrations per day over the three days , it’s a huge leap in numbers, and we’re very proud of it. We have also seen where viewers on Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms have also increased, and so in 2021 virtual broadcasting has really been something special for KingstOOn, ”she said.
KingstOOn is designed to provide local animators with unprecedented opportunities. “When it comes to the digital and animation industries, we have a huge talent pool in Jamaica. We have young people doing freelance animation, as a hobby, people doing it professionally and trying to build a career out of it, and what KingstOOn is offering them is a global opportunity to learn from the masters of the world. business, ”said Newland, adding that the festival connects participants to a global audience and market and was able to surpass previous parameters. “This festival has always been an opportunity for these participants to reach a global audience and business people who can further develop their ideas and give them greater visibility. This year, through our online connection, we were able to make even more connections and build even stronger networks than we would have done if we had hosted a face-to-face festival, ”she said. .
That said, Newland revealed that even once things get back to normal and a physical staging of KingstOOn is possible again, the virtual will now always be a key tool in their execution. She shared that with the festival seeking to establish itself as the main animation festival in the region, continued growth is imperative and she believes the online platform can help this development. “Animation is a networking industry, and I think that with the networks we have created this year, we are setting ourselves up for even more growth. This year, with going virtual, we were able to bring in many more experts from the international animation industry to present and be part of panels, etc. Being able to participate through Zoom or other platforms really made the appeal of the festival even stronger, ”she said.
She is grateful to the execution team for being “above and beyond”. “We know we are in the digital age and so we must strive to stay relevant in these online spaces. The team really did a fantastic job with it this year. They went above and beyond and their efforts really helped make KingstOOn stand out in the global space as a truly premier Jamaican production, ”she said.
Speaking of high end, Newland said that since KingstOOn was founded in 2013, the festival has seen tremendous growth, especially when it comes to submissions to its various contests. She said she was especially pleased with the quality of the submissions from local hosts, as it shows Jamaican creatives are honing their skills and working towards excellence. “This year in our pitch competition we had a total of 2,100 submissions from 105 countries, which is quite the record, and one of the comments the judges made was that we have come a long way. in terms of the quality of submissions and many of those submissions were from our Jamaican hosts. What this tells me is that our Jamaican creatives have taken the lead and improved over time. We are happy about this and look forward to even greater growth as the festival progresses, ”said Newland.
A five-day event, the animation festival ends today and was hosted by local media personality Debbie Bissoon and an animated robot, Caleb, who was created by Jamaican animator Coretta Singer. Caleb is a character from one of Singer’s first 3D animated shorts titled Voyajah.