The Malaysian animation industry began its journey in the late 1970s with its very first animation short ‘Hikayat Sang Kancil’ by Anandam Xavier, although it didn’t get a release till 1983.
The word animation, when translated to Malay is Animasi and the industry has its origins in the puppetry style of wayang kulit, wherein the characters are controlled by the puppeteer, or Tok Dalang.
The surge in Malaysian animation products also resulted in the founding of two animation studios: FilmArt, established in 1984 and Lensamation, which opened its doors in 1987. Having these production companies in the country led to the legitimisation of animation as an art form and career path, and training schools and programs were instituted. The year 1995 also witnessed the debut of the first animated television series, ‘Usop Sontorian’.
Fast forward to the year 2005, which witnessed the foundation of yet another animation studio called Animasia. TheGraphicSlate.com recently got chatting with the studio’s MD Edmund Chan to better understand how the company has grown into becoming a one-stop answer to the production of digital contents and offer outlandishly creative properties along with its various partners.
“Having begun our journey way back in 2005, we are now the largest animation studio in the country dealing in 2D Flash content. We have over 300 episodes of content in our library and have worked on some groundbreaking series as well,” a proud Edmund reveals.
The studio is behind successful shows like: ABC Monsters, Chuck Chicken and Supa Strikers. The USP of the studio according to Edmund is in the way that it uses Flash optimally and is able to deliver a seamless content flow for its partners and never failing to meet deadlines with a tried and tested work pipeline in place.
“The biggest asset which the studio possesses according to me is our talented team of artists. The team is very dedicated to creating groundbreaking 2D animated shows and taking our characters and stories to the world,” he adds.
The past 10 years have been very challenging for the studio. Be it in terms of finance, distribution, continuing to create fresh content and the biggest one being managing talent. “But the folks in the industry have been wonderful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them who have supported us in the best and more importantly the worst of times that we have experienced in the past decade,” Edmund stresses.
On the question of the studio’s most challenging projects thus far, Edmund says: “Chuck Chicken required a lot of re-development in terms of the storyline and its characters. It has also taken four long years for its development and the fund raising process, but now when we see the IP its come out really well.”
Chuck Chicken has managed to foray into major networks in South Asia, including Nick in India. And the studio is now setting its eyes on the European and North American markets.
Among its other projects, Supa Strikers has also done decently across various markets. The studio is proud of the way it has delivered a world class quality of Flash animation for a high on action series around football. Its other series, which targets the pre-school audience, ABC Monsters wasn’t doing well initially but has slowly picked up pace over the last few months.
Running since 2005, the studio has stalked and swatted its way into taking its clients to newer heights and winning numerous awards in Asia. “We also happen to be the first ISO certified (ISO 9001:2008) animation company, along with a MSC Malaysia Status Company as well.”
On the most important quality that the studio looks out for while hiring artists, Edmund states: “We look at your drawing skills and not the degree that you hold. We have some amazing talent working on the animation and production side.”
Apart from 2D Flash animation, the studio also has a smaller CGI team, which worked on its first feature film a few years back called ‘Bola Kampung’. “We released the film in Malaysia in over 80 screens, apart from Bulgaria, Korea, Russia, Cambodia and other countries as well. It was a good learning curve for us,” Edmund ends.
The animation industry in the South East Asian region is growing exponentially and in the coming years we can certainly expect a lot more action from the space. With respect to Animasia, the studio is currently exploring the possibility of taking Chuck Chicken to the big screen, and is experimenting with the idea of using CGI since that is the norm for animated features nowadays.
The studio also promises to continue investing time, resource, money and look at expanding its distribution reach to more territories globally and is always on the look out for strategic partners and keep the flag for Malaysia’s Animation industry flying high.