x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Animation talent is on the rise in Abu Dhabi

Three animators – one Omani, one Iraqi-Canadian and one Sudanese – have been selected from a pool of 12 graduates to join the creative team at the Cartoon Network Studios Arabia.

Alaa Magboul, a Sudanese animator, at her desk inside the Cartoon Network’s Abu Dhabi offices. Lee Hoagland / The National
Alaa Magboul, a Sudanese animator, at her desk inside the Cartoon Network’s Abu Dhabi offices. Lee Hoagland / The National

Ben 10 and The Powerpuff Girls may be in for some local competition, as three recent graduates from the Cartoon Network Animation Academy in Abu Dhabi help finalise the pilot episodes for two UAE-produced cartoons.

Khadija Al Saidi, Nassma Al Bahrani and Alaa Magboul are among the first graduates of the academy, which opened its doors in 2010 as a collaboration among the capital's media production hub TwoFour54 and Bournemouth University, Turner Broadcast Systems, Inc and the National Centre for Computer Animation in the UK.

The three animators - Omani, Iraqi-Canadian and Sudanese, respectively - were selected from a pool of 12 graduates to join the creative team at Cartoon Network Studios Arabia, the Abu Dhabi production outpost for the popular free-to-view TV channel. The other nine graduates have also found employment in other animation companies.

If the pilot episodes get the green light from the company directors in the coming weeks, then both series will be broadcast on its Arabic-language network throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Until then, CN Studio Arabia's team remain tight-lipped about details of either show. But the creative director Adam Khwaja, who heads up the eight-person production team in Abu Dhabi, tells us that one is an action-comedy and the other more of an action-adventure with elements of humour.

"This is work created by talent from this region, and we have ambitions for it to go further afield," says Khwaja. "We think they'll work nicely in Europe and, depending on the interest, could eventually go to the US."

Cartoon Network currently broadcasts across 167 countries and in 22 different languages. Among its portfolio of previous in-house productions is the award-winning series Dexter's Laboratory, about the ill-fated inventions of a child genius.

The channel has raised the profile of cartoons since launching in 1992 by broadcasting a number of animations that, often through irreverent humour, have helped bridge the divide between child and adult audiences.

Khwaja says the regional market in particular is hungry for new and relevant content.

"As a whole, we're trying to build an industry. But this is a way for us as Cartoon Network to find a new, distinctive style of storytelling that hasn't existed yet."

Being based in Abu Dhabi has allowed the team to feed off the region's visual make-up in both cartoons.

clord@thenational.ae

  • For more information on the Cartoon Network Animation Academy in TwoFour54, Abu Dhabi, visit tadreeb.twofour54.com

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