A Future for Free and Open Caribbean Animation

Just do a twitter search for the hashtag #toonz and then come back…

Don’t worry i’ll still be here,..

You did it?…Ok Cool, but before i really dive into it let’s clarify something.

When I’m referring to Animation in this piece it is specifically related to 
2D Animation meant for both Outsourcing and Independent or Studio Driven IP creation as well as commercially driven Advertising animation practices.

Good, Great..let’s dive into it..

Toonz ,the software used by Studio Ghibli (You may or may not have heard about this small indie studio) that produced films like Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and The Wind Rises. Whose films are later distributed in the west by another Small company you may have heard of Disney. Will be made free and open source to the animation community beginning March 26, 2016.

Cross Section of Studio Ghibli's work over the years

And as rightly said in this (and many other articles, go check in the interwebs) could have a potentially profound impact on the animation industry.

Posted on Cartoon Brews’ Twitter showing the interest in the article.

But of course i wouldn’t be writing about this if it was just about that, software goes open source all the time, but it’s a first of this scale especially in the Animation sector which is to some extent is very closed off.
So take a journey with me as we consider the potential future implications of the Caribbean Animation industry IF this software becomes widely adopted in the region.

Software Fragmentation.

According to “Almighty Google” the Caribbean Population is at 39.17 Million People ( 2009). With the major centres of the English speaking caribbean who have been heavily focused in Animation investment over the past couple of years being, Jamaica(2.8 million), Barbados( 0.2 Million) and Trinidad & Tobago(1.2 million).

Of course when you whittle that down to those involved in the AudioVisual sector, then those involved in the Animation Sector and wait go down one more level to those involved in 2D Animation for Outsourcing or Commercial Advertising media, and/or IP Creation sector then we’re left with a the nascent but growing industry.

This group, as small as they may be appear is already fragmented in terms of software usage depending on if they are independent freelancers/contractors or SME/ studios. The software fragmentation can range from to Animating in Photoshop or Flash to more robust Animation software such as Anime Studio or Toonboom.

Where forth are you now toonboom?

As i discussed briefly in my previous article Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back which you can read HERE.

Toonboom made significant strides in the Caribbean sector between 2009 and 2013 where there existed a significant groundswell of interest from an investment standpoint in the industry mainly due to Joan Vogelsang and her toonboom team hoping to replicate some of the strides they made in India in the Caribbean region.

Studios were started, Centres of Training we’re implemented and from a business standpoint, Toonboom positioned itself as the leader in Animation software. Offering Payment plans for smaller studios, on site training personnel and access to their international network for outsourcing and other software partners.

Legend of Korra on the Nicklodeon Network

But all that changed when the fire nation attacked….sorry got carried away.

Toon Boom eventually changed their business model in mid 2014–2015, to subscription based annual/monthly payments and with the departure of Joan as CEO . Toonboom once set on building nascent industries has now focused and streamlined to doing more outreach training videos and webinars online. It seems as though their interest in the growth of the Caribbean and other sectors has subsided.

The Opportunity for Toonz

Toonz, being an FREE open source production quality software can really open doors in the caribbean nascent market.

Imagine with me for abit, if the adoption rate becomes high enough where a large percent of caribbean studios/ independent freelancers start using the software what can happen…

  • The potential for collaboration becomes higher because everyone is on one platform.
  • Collaboration on all levels can exist from Commercial projects to Independant IP.
  • Training and Growth can happen exponentially across the region by removing the barrier to entry for users.
  • Accessibility to more content which can potentially drive up local consumption of created works.
  • Larger access pools for workforce for outsourcing as everyone can exist on one collaborative platform.


These are just some of the areas that this open source platform can present to us as a region. I for one am super excited by all of this and look forward to hearing more and testing the software out in our own studio ( Lab 206) as they rightly said at the beginning of this article.

This could be a game changer for the industry OR maybe they should be saying,

This could be a groundswell of growth that can really help the caribbean industry.

If you enjoyed this article, please click that little green heart below and leave me a comment .

My name is Rene´Holder and i’m an Animation/Content Producer and Co-Founder of @Lab206 Studios based in Trinidad. 
I am super passionate cool New media content, Animation and seeing our Caribbean digital Storytelling industry grow.

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