Mike-Steve Adeleye: Reining it in
In this interview with Adebimpe Adebambo, Mike-Steve Adeleye takes us through his creative process, stylistic development and his emergence as one of the leading lights of animation in Nigeria.
Did you study Animation Production in a formal institution or were you self-taught?
I’d say a bit of both. I studied film (animation inclusive) at the National Film Institute, Jos, but my passion for animation predates my formal study. I had an Amiga 500 + computer in the mid-90’s that I had already experimented on. It was very limited because it had just 8MB of RAM and I had to work directly on to a floppy disk. An animation of about 30 seconds might end up being saved across several floppy disks, and to output, I would play out directly into a VHS recorder, editing manually with the deck. It was very tedious but I didn’t mind at the time. That was the only way I got to practice what I loved. At film school, I was taught the principles of animation, a solid foundation that I could apply not just to my animation projects but to storytelling. I graduated first with a Professional Diploma in Motion Picture Production with specialization in Directing and then later got a degree in Motion Picture Production with a specialization in Animation. I have not stopped learning since, getting acquainted with new techniques and technologies that aid animation, and doing several tests and experiments at every chance I get.
Please take us through your creative process.
It depends on the project and what is required. However, I always do plenty of research. I go online and begin to comb for references and information about the subject being treated. If it is an animated project, I do several thumbnails to help me get a rough but good visual sense of the story, and then prepare a storyboard and animatic. I also have many conversations with clients to bounce off ideas, exploring the best possible way to achieve their goals.
How difficult was it to set up Emes Pictures Animation Production here in Nigeria and how has the journey been so far?
When we started, animation was very new in Nigeria. In fact, it would have been impossible to run the business solely on producing animation. We based our operations on different aspects of film/TV production and limited animation to in-house projects. This was the status quo for a long time until we made Playground, a short animation about girl child education. The floodgates of animation jobs were thrown open from that point on. We made animations for a very diverse clientele ever since.
For the full interview, watch out for Omenka magazine Film Issue…
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