yetunde ogundipe

YETUNDE OGUNDIPE: There’s Money For Everyone In Stop Motion Animation

For a decade, Yetunde Ogundipe drifted. She bounced from one idea in the creative to the next, restless, desperately searching for what might be the Thing– the Thing that would be uniquely hers, different enough to break through the clutter of 70 million Nigerian youths jostling for attention.

At one time, she was a dancer, then an ad agency copywriter, and later, a video producer. But she could never rest until she stumbled into stop motion animation. That was when she finally breathed easy.

She has since turned that into a business. These days, she runs BeeReel pictures—a company she started in 2016, which now has a staff of three. She doesn’t thnk this venture is for her alone, though. She believes it’s just as important to the Nigerian creative economy. I ask her how:

What’s the biggest project you’ve done with stop motion animation? 

The biggest project, I would say, is not determined by the biggest client I’ve worked with but the scale of the project itself. And that would be the series of cutout animation I created for Upbeat, a recreational centre in Lekki, Lagos.

What’s the story behind the job: how you met the client and got the assignment, etcetera?

I had just completed a live action video production for their launch, so when I suggested stop motion for the next act, [my client] jumped on it without question.

I’d met the client while I was on another job and she’d been quite impressed with my work at my last job placement– that’s Ndani. She had heard so much about the production teams and had wanted to work with us. So, knowing that I used to be with Ndani, she contracted me to create a series of videos for her right away.

Now, what would be the ultimate dream you want to see come true for you as a stop motion animator?

To help build a community of stop motion animators in Nigeria, and together, we’ll create an animation feature that is going to be all stop motion. This is because creating an animation feature takes a collaborative effort of lots of animators with different skills working towards a goal. To fully get what I’m saying, check out the size of the crew on some of the popular stop motion animations, like Kubo and the Two Strings, Corpse Bride, Isle of Dogs, etcetera.

So, you were a copywriter and a film producer; why did you choose to pivot to stop motion?

It all comes down to me constantly searching for something different to do. You are familiar with phrases like, think outside the box, break away from the norm, Red Ocean is saturated, jump into a Blue Ocean. It’s all from that. Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life. I wanted something I’d be able to create from idea stage to execution without worrying about the limitations around me. After 10 years of moving from one job to the other, I finally found it.

That’s good to hear. Congratulations. But where did you learn to do stop motion animation in this country?

I never really learned or knew what stop motion was before I created my first video… I made a conscious decision to try something new on my trip out of the country. I was with a friend during my stay in South Africa. He paints on sneakers. I asked if I could take pictures of each stroke as he painted, I figured I could put the shots on a timeline and create a video from that. Mind you, at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing was called stop motion. I just wanted to put pictures together and create motion from it. That was how my first video came about.

My directing and editing skills helped because I knew how frames per second work and understood that, to make the sneakers do realistic dance moves, I had to do a pre-visualization.  I was impressed with the result of my first attempt and I felt oh, yes, that’s what I’d been looking for, a new kind of production I wanted to challenge myself with. From there on, I started researching animation and motion, learning from the stop motion gurus on YouTube and understanding what more skills I needed to develop to perfect my videos.

Who are your current clients?

I’ve been working with Upbeat Recreational Centre, Coca-Cola, and a couple of SMEs and individuals. I’ve also created a couple of videos for Konbini for Nescafe, but nothing at the moment from that end.

Many creative agencies are struggling to find business these days. The market seems to be shrinking for big budget marketing campaigns. How does a startup such as yours attract and retain business?

We’ve been hearing lots of stats like social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. In 2019, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. So, video content is the big deal now that every brand should plug into to stay relevant.  And the good thing is every active brand online and agencies are beginning to understand the power of video.

So the need for video content is the attraction, plus stop motion is a cool, fun way of getting attention. Letting brands play and just be goofy. You can say the difference is the attraction. And of course pricing is the other big issue, getting it right to keep them coming back is the trick.

But why should more Nigerian/African business choose stop motion animation for their commercials?

Brands are creatively using storytelling, comedy, and trends to increase engagement with their target audiences now more than ever. That’s because great advertising is so much more than just providing information. It’s about making a great impression, creating something visually arresting and getting your message across. And all of this must be done with the understanding that the attention span of the audience is just less than 10 seconds.

That’s why brands are turning to stop-motion animation as their go-to for effective and engaging ads. The moving images are more enticing than a still visual and are less demanding than videos. Plus, it’s a great solution for brands that don’t have a lot of resources or a large budget to tell their brand story.

You’re the only one I know doing stop motion animation in Nigeria. How competitive is the business for you?

Not enough. Animation in Nigeria is relatively new. So, imagine how stop motion performs in that space. When I first started, there was nobody in Nigeria whose content I could compare mine with. Initially, I thought it was a good thing but getting to the nitty-gritty of business, it became an issue because it took more effort to make the client see the potential of stop motion as video content. To them, it just wasn’t popular. So I got most of my jobs through referrals, within a small network. The jobs were not many.

There is something peculiar about our market: they only do popular things, use popular skills, employ people with lots of followers. So the challenge right now is not only to create awareness for the benefit of this style of animation but to also teach people who want to learn new skills. The more animators out there creating stop motion, the popular it gets. That way, the attraction begins. I won’t have to school the clients so much every time. 

When did you decided to go full time into stop motion animation?

2017.

How did you know it was time to face it 100%?

When I realised that to really improve on some of my skills, I needed to dedicate more time to stop motion.

Thanks, Yetunde. I wish you all the best.

Thank you.

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