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You need to see what this self-taught teen animator did in Harmony!

With high school animation programs on the rise, it’s becoming more common to see adolescent artists create near-professional work in Toon Boom’s digital solutions. In the case of 15-year-old Ted Balaam, his latest short film, Locker 39, is made even more inspiring and impressive because he is self-taught — and he produced it independently in Harmony.

Based in West Yorkshire, England, Balaam has had a lifelong affection and affinity for animation. He taught himself how to use Toon Boom Harmony through trial-and-error with different tools and techniques. Moving forward, he will be looking to the Learn Portal to augment these skills.

He completed Locker 39 solo between July 2017 and March 2018, and it can now be found on his YouTube channel. Inspired by the teen toon-maker’s real-life desire to escape gym class, the story follows Tyler (an animated version of Balaam, albeit with wilder hair) as he travels through a portal in his locker to an alien world where he befriends a blue native, Larimar.

“I don't mean to sound pretentious here, but the lockers symbolize people in a way: Everyone might look similar on the exterior, but on the inside we are all very different,” says Balaam.

Thoughtful symbolism can also be found in the titular number “39”, which is a tribute to the animator’s late grandmother. Additionally, the name Tyler comes from “door keeper” in Old English and Larimar is also a type of blue crystal, though Balaam only discovered these double meanings after the fact.

So, what’s next for this talented young animator?

“I would love to pursue a career in animation! I can’t imagine doing anything else to be honest,” says Balaam.

“I would like to go to University of Edinburgh to study animation, but ultimately it would be a dream to work somewhere like Disney or Aardman doing hand drawn or tradigital animation,” he continues.

Given what he’s accomplished thus far, there is little doubt that Balaam will be successful wherever his life —or locker— takes him.

Are you a young animator with a Harmony project to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Banner image source: Ted Balaam.

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