Zambezia homegrown

ROB KNOWLES

DRAWING TALENT: Animator Greg Murray, responsible for artwork in the hit South African movie Zambezia, was brought up in Southwell and Grahamstown and now lives in Cape Town Picture: SUPPLIED

ONE of South Africa’s top animators, who worked on the hit animated movie, Zambezia, is a local, and proud of it.

Greg Murray, 30, was raised on his parent’s farm in Southwell and attended Bathurst Primary School as well as Shaw Park Primary School before moving to Grahamstown and Graeme College at the age of 10.

“I was an average pupil,” he told TotT, “and did all the normal stuff kids do like sport, but I was always interested in art.”

After school Murray took time out from academia and went off to live in London from 2001, returning in 2004.

“I wanted to gain some experience of life overseas,” he said. “But I missed South Africa.”

On his return Murray moved to Cape Town and enrolled at the Universal Computer Arts Academy (now renamed The Animation School) where he took a two-year introductory course in animation.

“I had always been interested in visual art, and even though at that point I didn’t know how to copy and paste, I decided to choose the computer as the medium, and begun my career in animation,” said Murray.

He began working for a new South African company, Triggerfish Animation Studios, which had set its sights on producing a Southern African story of Kai, a naïve but high-spirited young falcon who travels to the bustling bird city on the edge of the majestic Victoria Falls, “Zambezia“.

“The film has received rave reviews all over the world,” said Murray. “I was responsible for some of the character animation and for fur systems and surfacing. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.”

Since the film’s completion, Murray has spent the last 18 months in Holland working there. He has just returned to South Africa and moved back to his adopted city of Cape Town.

“I intend to stay here (in Cape Town) for as long as possible,” he said.

Murray also mentioned that Triggerfish is currently working on a new animated story, also based in Africa, that should be released before the end of the year.

“And, if you think the animation in Zambezia is good, this new movie is even better,” Murray said.

Murray probably inherited his artistic streak from his mother Maddy, who owns a pottery studio in Vroom Road, Port Alfred, and father Donavan who works in metal. Murray’s sister, Carman, is also quite artistic.

Murray’s family were invited to Port Elizabeth to see the premier of the movie, and his mother commented she was very impressed by the quality of the animation and the fact that it was a South African-produced film.

Asked about her son she said he had always been a very organised child.

“He was born a Virgo,” she said, “and was always very neat and tidy; probably the most organised person in the house when he was growing up. He is a quiet person who does not shout about his achievements.

“He has a good working ethic and gets his head down when something needs to be done.”

As an example of his creativity, his mother said it was her son who had come up with the name for her pottery studio.

“We were all scratching our heads trying to think of a good name and Greg just came up with Maddy Lane, a play on my name, Madeleine. We probably would never have thought of it,” she said.

Zambezia is now showing at Rosehill Mall Cinemas staring the voice talents of, among others, Samuel L Jackson and Leonard Nimoy.

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