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Makerere starts animation course

Makerere University, partnering with a UK based company, Digimation, will introduce a new course at the faculty of Computing and Informatics Technology (FCIT).

Starting this October, the faculty will offer an advanced diploma in 3D Animation, VFX and Gaming.

At the signing ceremony at Protea Hotel, Kampala, Dilip Amdekar, Digimation’s CEO said: “The field of computer animation is an exciting, dynamic and progressive area, which represents the perfect mix of scientific application with artistic inspiration. As part of one of the fastest growing sectors, that of creative industries, computer animation offers immense scope for success and growth.”

He explained that the creative industries sector spans not just multimedia and animation but film, television, writing, publishing, dance, drama, fashion and the media.

He said the course was designed by industrial experts after intensive research.

“Its curriculum has been designed by Digimation and UK’s national awarding body NCFE in accordance with the current industry standards worldwide,” said Amdekar.

The two-year course will cost $1,000 (about Shs 2.2m) per semester, equivalent to the tuition fee for Makerere’s most expensive course, Bachelor of Telecommunication Engineering. Yet, Amdekar says, the course at Makerere will be the most affordable the world over.

“In UK, the cost is very high. We are teaching the course at $6,500 per year. But we have been assisted by Makerere University as a partner who have seen it possible to reduce the price of the course to suit the fees structure for the students,” he noted.

The same course in Australia and Canada is delivered at $13,000 and S14, 000 a year respectively, while in some UK universities, the three-year course goes for about $45,000.

“We always wanted to go with a university partnership and we  wanted a partner who is honest and forthcoming; one who cares for the students, a partner who is not driven by a profit motive,” Amdekar said.

Packaged for all

Michael Niyitegeka, the head of corporate communication at the faculty said the university has designed different packages for different target groups.

“For the diploma course, our target is 40 students per class because it is intensive and purely hands on. We don’t want to have a very big class. So, we are looking at about two intakes per year; about 80 students running co-currently. The other short courses will be running alongside this, but most of the work is going to be laboratory based,” he said.

Niyitegeka says the usual requirement for the diploma training will apply: at least two principal passes at A-level. The short courses will be open to all individuals.

“This is a practical diploma. This is a course where there is visual thinking. Your portfolio will show what you can do. I had a teacher who was very good but I had to lose him because the industry picked him up at a salary of 70,000 pounds per year,” Amdekar said.

Niyitegeka agreed: “If you look at the animation industry world over, it is changing the way the entertainment industry is heading. I can create any environment I want: a jungle, rain or sunshine, whatever.”

This lowers the cost and raises the turnover.  “Yes, I can sit in my office and within a month, be able to give you a movie. That is the animation industry today. All I need are voices, you have seen films like Lion King, it is a multibillion dollar sale and there is no single human being.”

The partnership also has a business arm to it. Besides training students, the faculty will establish a multimedia studio to undertake commercial works, enabling a real work experience while studying, according to Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, the faculty dean.

Patrick Bitature, the chairman Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) who linked up Digimation with Makerere said the course would help Uganda reposition herself in the ICT world.

In the last financial year, government waived taxes on video equipment hoping to induce growth in the film sector.

smusasizi@observer.ug

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