Abu Dhabi: Despite their varied backgrounds, nationalities and cultures, one thing that unites them is their passion for animation.

Representing nine countries including the UAE, the 13 students comprise the first batch of twofour54 tadreeb Animation Production Course at the Cartoon Network Animation Academy.

"I've always been obsessed with drawing and animation even at a young age, which led me to study and work in media…one day, I was on Facebook and I found out about this academy. I applied for it and was so excited when I found out I was selected," said Khalid Al Rayhi, an Emirati based in Dubai.

Lasting one year, the course is divided into three 12-week semesters where they are provided with an intensive training in various animation techniques. It was designed by twofour54 tadreeb and its key partners, Cartoon Network, a part of Turner Broadcasting System and the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) at Bournemouth University of the UK.

"The academy was launched in September and we're very impressed with what is being produced by our students…despite the intensive classes, they are constantly full of energy and ideas… also, several have even begun to show that they are gravitating to specific fields within animation, such as story board layout," Oliver Acker, the academy's head lecturer, said.

"It not only provides them with the opportunity to have hands-on experience but will also provide the students with the skills required to compete across a range of sectors such as gaming, television and film," Wayne Borg, Deputy CEO and COO, twofour54, said.