Kamohelo Salemane, Tshegofatso Tracy Pitseng, and Daniela Del Castello – recipients of the 2023 GOBELINS/NETFLIX Master’s Scholarship for African Animators

Gobelins and Netflix

The GOBELINS Paris School joined forces with Netflix Grow Creative “to increase the pipeline of new animation talent in Africa” by offering a scholarship to African students successfully admitted into the master’s animation programme at the school. Six animators from the continent were selected beneficiaries for the 2023 – 2025 period. Alongside Njolai Pachomius from Cameroon, Kelvin Shani from Kenya, and Noran Fikri from Egypt, three South African animators are now studying at the school as recipients of this opportunity: Kamohelo Salemane, Tshegofatso Tracy Pitseng, and Daniela Del Castello. 

Kamohelo Salemane

“What makes this opportunity even more profound is my burning desire to bring these newfound skills and knowledge back to South Africa” – Kamohelo Salemane.

In 2014, Kamohelo Salemane received a Best Artwork Award and Certificate from the Southern Festival of the Arts. In 2015, she completed an introductory course in digital painting, following which she attended The Animation School to obtain a Diploma in Digital Animation. 

Salemane’s first internship was at Minds Eye Creative, through which she had the opportunity to work in 2D character design and 2D rigging for two weeks in 2018. Salemane designed and modelled multiple characters and props or assets as a visual development artist for a feature animated film titled Seal Team (2021) when she interned for Triggerfish Animation Studios in 2019. That same year, she became a character designer for multiple short film projects in the genres of action, thriller, and light-hearted adventure for Tshimologong Precinct. Another short film she worked on, as a visual development artist for Lola Alma Aikins in 2021, was the award-winning Naledi (2023). 

Kamohelo Salemane’s portfolio comprises works such as Rainbow which portrays a sultry feminine character’s bold rainbow-coloured hair in portraiture, Swag Old Man which portrays a slick-styled elder whose fashion sense resonates with the younger generations and represents anyone’s cool uncle, as well as the Environment Study body of work featuring mountainous landscapes of the desert and snowlands. She has contributed to the fan art category of pop culture with works dedicated to the globally beloved Howl’s Moving Castle (2005) anime film and Kylo Ren from the Star Wars franchise.

Tshegofatso Tracy Pitseng

“I want to grow as an artist and hope to find my artistic identity, too. My future goal after I complete my studies is to teach” – Tshegofatso Tracy Pitseng.  

Tshegofatso Tracy Pitseng attended The Animation School in 2017 to study digital animation, animation, interactive technology, video graphics and special effects. In 2019, Pitseng worked as a colourist for Room to Read, where she coloured the illustrations for a children’s book. She also worked alongside Aida Del Solar from GOBELINS and with Tshimologong Precinct and The Animation School teams on a promotional video for the 2020 Annecy International Animation Festival. 

Pitseng worked on a freelance basis between 2021 and 2023: as a concept artist and character designer for Buthano Pictures; 2D animator for Tshimologong, The Hidden Hand Studios, and the Cape Town International Animation Festival; a character designer for Triggerfish Animation; and was under contract with Studio Bolland as a motion designer. 

Pitseng’s portfolio of works include portrait studies zeroing in on the structures and aesthetics of the faces of a nose-ringed Black young woman and an orange-haired white young woman in relaxed poses; character studies of popular culture fictional figures such as Elastigirl from The Incredibles (2004) and Dr Octavius from the Spiderman franchise as well as celebrities like Mark Lee from NCT Korean boy band and Roseanne Park from BlackPink fame. There are also 3D artworks of a doughnut and tea, and one of a robot bunny. 

Daniela Del Castello

“This scholarship empowers me not only to attain an education but to share narratives that deserve to be heard” – Daniela Del Castello. 

Daniela Del Castello went to the University of the Witwatersrand to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master’s in Digital Animation between 2012 and 2017. The title of her Wits master’s paper is Queer Animation: A creative project in constructing fantastical worlds of desire. One of her academic achievements was being a recipient of the David Krut Book Prize, awarded to the 4th year Fine Art student with the best results in art criticism and research project. 

Del Castello has exhibited works through the NewWork initiative for graduates of the Wits School of Art’s Fine Art department in 2015 and in the Emerging Painters Graduate Show at the Turbine Art Fair in 2016. She has also co-authored an object biography titled A Chicken in a Goat that became chapter three of the Standard Bank Gallery’s Life-Line-Knot exhibition catalogue. In 2017, Del Castello became an animator for Minds Eye Creative. Following this role, in 2021, she became an animation trainer for Tshimologong Precinct. 

Daniela Del Castello’s portfolio features experimental works wherein the figures blend into their surroundings such as Dredge which explores the physical forms of psychical experiences like having an emotion, Maggot Battle wherein a woman fights off giant maggots with toxic spray, and Giants which portrays ancient, magical and mysterious creatures made from tree barks and rock structures. She has also done film still studies from the scenes of movies such as High Fidelity (2000), Amelie (2002), and Nosferatu (1922) to explore compositing and lighting. 

Studying at Gobelins 

This scholarship has awarded Samelane, Pitseng, and Del Castello the means to fund their studies at Gobelins, in Paris. They are enrolled for the Master in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking programme “designed to enable students to reach a professional level notably in directing and storytelling in a multicultural environment”. As such, they have the opportunity to engage in writing, storyboarding, and making various complex animations using different techniques, to gain advanced knowledge in the field. They also get to exercise their creative freedom and participate in projects to gain insight into the animated filmmaking professional environment like the students before them.

Now a year into their master’s programme, these three brilliant animators are on their way to making their mark in animation, in South Africa and beyond. Their journey gives future animators hope to aim higher in the creative practice because they can also go to France to further their studies and build a career.

Most popular

Similar articles