From Passion to Industry Leader: Ayodele Elegba on Building Spoof Animations, Nigeria's Top 2D Animation Studio
Ayodele Elegba becomes a visionary force in the dynamic field of animation, turning his passion into a trailblazing endeavour. Ayodele is the main force behind Spoof Animations, which is the top 2D animation studio in Nigeria. His remarkable story, which takes place at the nexus of creativity and enterprise, follows his path from passion to industry leadership.
Company and Industry
What inspired you to start Spoof Animations?
I was inspired to start a 2D animation company because God told me to do so. I had just resigned from my job and was confused on what to do next, I went to God in prayer to ask what I should do. HE said, "Do animation, Do 2D animation”. This was what really set me off on the journey. However, 2D animation had always been in my blood and I was passionate about it right from the age of 16 when I experimented with punched printer paper soiled with kerosine to create an animation cell paper. So, even though obeying that instruction in 2015 was hard, I knew I understood 2D animation like the back of my hand and I had something to contribute.
What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the Nigerian 2D animation industry?
For challenges, I must say, a lot of Nigerians prefer 3D animations. They think 3D is the higher version of 2D, but they are wrong. This really was a big challenge for us at Spoof Animations, because we couldn't get clients in Nigeria. This actually made us realize that our clients are going to come from abroad where 2D is appreciated as an art form that is going extinct. We realized we needed to improve our skillset to a level that appeals to international clients. Once we began to do this and show it with projects like ‘HERO CORPS’ short film and ‘AJAKA: LOST IN ROME’ short film, a door of opportunities began to open to us.
What are some of the unique advantages or specializations that Spoof Animations offers clients?
I think the biggest advantage we have is our storytelling. We are storytellers first. We train every creative that joins SPOOF to be a storyteller. I think most of the clients who have come to us have done so because they have stories to tell, and they believe that SPOOF can help them tell their stories effectively. We enjoy character animation and having been groomed in the 12 principles of animation we understand this as our greatest strength, and we have focused on this throughout our 8 years of existence. The action genre is also something we are good at, and you can see how we use fight scenes and racy storyboarding in all our projects.
Can you share any notable projects or collaborations that Spoof Animations has undertaken?
We have several projects we have done in the past and still doing with clients, but one of the most ambitious and successful we have done personally for our IP is “AJAKA: LOST IN ROME”, a short film which raised over $20,000 from Kickstarter and is currently being celebrated all over the world as the next big thing to come out from an independent studio in Africa. Though the IP is 100 percent SPOOF-owned, we had to collaborate with 2 American studios for the KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN. We understand the power of collaboration and we are always open to more collaborations.
Creative Process and Vision
What is your creative philosophy or approach when developing animated projects?
Our creative philosophy is always storytelling. Whether it's creating an advert or a feature film we look at it from the story angle. How do we communicate our message to the audience? What will the audience understand by what we have created? For us it starts from the story idea, then the script, then storyboarding and animatics, before we go into animation fully.
What role does storytelling play in the work produced by Spoof Animations?
Everything about SPOOF is storytelling. I believe perhaps because I am also a trained writer and I understand the importance and power of a story. People won't really care about your cool animation if the story is faulty. We try to focus on the story all the time. Especially the screenplay and how the story unfolds.
What are some of the emerging trends or innovations in 2D animation that you are excited about?
I am excited about how 2D and 3D are easily integrated. After seeing the SONY FILM, “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse” I saw innovation coming. We now have a 3D department at SPOOF, so we are now integrating some 3D into our 2D as well.
Personal Journey and Leadership
What are some of the key lessons you have learned as an entrepreneur in the creative industry?
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt is that with great leadership creative studios can become great businesses too. I am a student of Leadership and I bring all my knowledge of Leadership to SPOOF. In fact, if you ask me, I will say 70% of why SPOOF is succeeding today is because of the Leadership. Not only the leadership in management but in all the staff. There are no followers in SPOOF, we are all leaders and that's why we call ourselves SPOOF GENERALS. We are a team of Leaders leading leaders and this is why we have been so efficient and consistent over the past 8 years.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators or entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
I would advise them to find a mentor in the industry. If they can go intern and become an apprentice in an animation studio where they can learn how to work in a team, they should. TEAMWORK is the reason why animation has not really grown in Africa. We need bigger studios with bigger team members. Our goal is to employ 100 animators at the end of this year because we understand how huge the opportunities are out there and we need to prepare ourselves by having bigger teams that can work on any project from all around the world. So, most studios are looking for animators to join their teams right now.
How do you balance your creative vision with the business needs of the company?
It's very difficult but it has to be done. Most people who run animation studios only see the creative side, but animation is just as much a business as any other business out there. Before I started SPOOF, I had gotten some experience in system building, financial management and human resources and of course cash flow and how to raise money. All this is needed in any business. Personally, I look at SPOOF as a business period. We have all the departments that make up any other business. We have a good relationship with our bankers, we have a strong HR team, and we have lawyers and consulting accountants who tell us about government policy and how to protect our intellectual policy
Can you share a funny or memorable anecdote from your experience at Spoof Animations?
I always joke with my staff about how we began SPOOF in an old storeroom not big enough to even contain us. It's funny how we began without anything and now we are a global brand. I am glad we didn't give up. I am glad we kept on learning and improving and becoming better every year.
The trajectory of Ayodele Elegba's career from passion to leadership in the animation industry is a tribute to the strength of unshakable dedication and creativity. As the visionary force behind Nigeria's top 2D animation studio, Spoof Animations, Ayodele has not only overcome challenges but has propelled his company to international acclaim through a commitment to storytelling excellence.
Spoof Animations has successfully navigated the intricacies of the Nigerian 2D animation market by emphasizing skill development and global appeal. Because of the studio's commitment to character animation and storytelling, it stands out from the competition and gives clients a distinct advantage.
Will you act on this aspiring growth story and seize your place in the Nigerian 2D animation space?
This is inspiring.