Ambivalence Society – PART 1

3D & Animation | By Tafadzwa Tarumbwa, Illustrator | 05 April 2013

The first of a two part series of interviews with Tafadzwa Tarumbwa as he talks about about  the inspiration behind Ambivalence and his endeavors in animation.

POVO: I am here with Tafadzwa Tarumbwa of the Ambivalence fame. Tafadzwa how are you?
TAF: I am doing great.

POVO: Can you give us a brief background about yourself and what you do?
TAF: I began my career in animation in 2004, followed by bits and pieces of different shorelines. Recently, I made Salad Chick which premiered at the Zimbabwe International Film festival (ZIFF) and bagged two awards. One was for Best Short Animation and the second one for most Promising Director. I have an animation studio in Chitungwiza from where I work; trying to get as much Zimbabwean content as we can for online publication.

POVO: Are you doing 2D or 3D animation?
TAF: 2D.

POVO: What’s the major difference between 2D and 3D animation?
TAF: 3D environments are closer to reality and it uses textures that are based on actual images or surfaces which you apply on your cartoon characters. The special effects demanded by 3D take a lot of processing power from your machine and are mostly produced for cinema and once off movies. 2D is more of your traditional animation that you get on Cartoon Network or day to day television.

POVO: I first received Ambivalence as a viral email and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tell us how it started and its success.
TAF: Ambivalence was created by musician and script writer, Jabulani popularly known as J Boss. He started Ambivalence as a skit for his album which people liked so he made another skit for the second album. His intention was to write the whole script and to have it animated. But, he wrote the script he had no idea how to convert into an animation and he found it difficult to find anyone capable of understanding it and animating it. I was still working at Ma- Ideas Thoughtshop as Graphic Designer then and that is how we met and he showed me his concept. He gave me the story line and the five episodes that I am working on, with two already done.

POVO: How was the animation received online?
TAF: The publicity for the audio was very effective and it went to many people in a lot of places and it was well received because people had not come across a product like Ambivalence. The animation has featured at ZIFF HIFA and the International Images Film Festival for Women. The animation did so well that even the creators of the design software, Toon Boom asked me to supply them with a copy of Ambivalence to showcase my work as one of the products that were made using their software.

POVO: What other software do you use and do you do the drawings or you import drawings from other programs as well.
TAF: For Salad Chick (I Know You) all the drawing was done in Toon Boom. Once I designed the characters there in Toon Boom 2, I did the motion. Compositing and colour correction I did it in Sony Vegas. For Salad Chick (Dating MaCelebrity) I used Toon Boom and Anime Studio for the character design. Salad Chick is all about exploring the different ways we can tell Ambivalence’s story. I used different software for Mbira Dzakondo which was an upgrade to Toon Boom 5 from the guys at Toon Boom after they were impressed with my Salad Chick video.

POVO: When can we expect Mbira Dzakondo?
TAF: I am working on it simultaneously with Salad Chick 3. I am aiming for two or three products at ZIFF for as long as possible because last year it was Salad Chick 1 & 2 and Stunt Goat. This year I want Mbira Dzakondo to feature Salad Chick 3 and maybe another Stunt Goat.

POVO: When is this years' ZIFF? 

TAF: Not sure of the dates but it’s usually the last week of August

POVO: What's the industry for commercial value 2D animation like?
TAF: At the moment a lot of people don't appreciate the value behind animation in general the only time when it was viable for me to be a 2D animator was when I was at Ma-Ideas advertising. They would write a concept, once they wanted that concept presented to the client. Some clients wouldn't understand the whole jargon on paper, so I would take that concept and interpret it and animate it in a way that they would understand. Then they would take the script and a visual aid in the form of the animation.

POVO: Have there been times when that visual proof has become the actual advert, where the client has said we want to use the 2D animation we don't want to do a proper video shoot.

TAF: Ma-Ideas were trying to push for that, but the clients were a bit hesitant and they didn’t appreciate animation as much as people watching television would. This is why they often preferred having the animation reenacted by actual actors.

Tafadzwa talks more about 2D animation industry in Zimbabwe and future projects.