A Bajan Help Draw ABC’s Black-ish!

Alexander Matthews Helps Rig Animation For Hit Comedy Series.

Alexander Matthews is a Barbados-born and raised animator living and working in Ottawa at Big Jump Entertainment (BJE). Very recently, he had the privilege to work on an animated episode of the award-winning sitcom, Black-ish, which aired on October 4th, 2020 on ABC. We here at Gine On were so excited to hear this news! A Bajan who helped to rig this animation? We had to find out more! You can also check below, to see some of the work which was originally posted on the Black-ish Instagram page!

Due to the COVID lockdown, many sitcoms and TV shows are turning to animation to get content to their fans. As mentioned in the DEADLINE article, that can be read here, in this election year, more than ever it was necessary for the producers and creator of Black-ish to get on the air. The animated episode, entitled Election Special Pt. 2, speaks on several issues that are prevalent around and within American politics currently; it is definitely worth watching!

– Alex

Gine On: What was your role in the project Alex ?

Alex: I was one of two rigging supervisors on the Black-ish project. Character rigs are what are used in cut-out style animation; they are puppets made up of the broken-down elements of a character design, i.e. eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet, etc., each with their own pivot point. Animators use these puppets to animate the scenes. I was responsible, along with my co-supervisor, for making sure all the rigs where delivered on time and were flexible enough for the actions of the individual characters, as well as all the props the characters would be interacting with.

Gine On: Did you encounter any challenges whilst doing the project ?

Alex: One of the biggest challenges of the project, was the timeline. Your typical 22-minute episode, can sometimes take up to 29 weeks to complete; this episode was completed in under 8 weeks. So, there were several overtime hours used in order to see the project to completion. I also had to determine the best way to build the characters in order to give the animators the tools they needed to complete their work, and the fact that I also know how to animate, makes it a little more difficult because I know all the issues that can arise while posing characters.

Gine On: What did you learn throughout this process? Any advice for Creative Entrepreneurs ?

Alex: I have learnt several things, not only from this project, but from my accumulated experiences here in Canada. The need to be aware of your stress levels and mental health is extremely important, as physical, mental and emotional burn-out is very, very real in the animation industry. A lot of animators are very dedicated to their craft and tight deadlines are a constant reality; it is very easy to slip into the habit of focusing more on delivery of work than on taking care of oneself. I am guilty of this. One must remember make time for relaxation and recuperation; take breaks and if necessary, take personal days. Stop worrying so much about getting things in on time. Yes, it is important to be professional and deliver on the responsibilities of your contract, but if you sacrifice yourself, you will also sacrifice your productivity.

Gine On: Any advice to Creative Entrepreneurs who may be feeling over whelmed in this pandemic ?

Alex: We’ve all been experiencing hardships within this harsh COVID environment, but there are small, yet very significant, beams of light that are growing in luminosity. One being that several companies are seeing that remote work is a very real, and very economical, method of getting things done. The animation industry is a very intense environment to work in, and can be very stressful on mental health. Allowing creatives to have the option to work in a place that they find most comfortable and conducive to their productivity is a great step forward.

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