Monthly Archives: March 2010

New Sails

Every March is the graduation show of probably the largest batch of animation and digital media students in Singapore, from Nanyang Polytechnic. As per tradition, it’s also a time when selected companies set up little interview booths at the campus to sieve through candidates hoping to soon get a taste of working life and all its drama.

A student’s life isn’t easy, but the great unknown after leaving school is often the most daunting episode in the life of a young adult stepping into the working world for the first time proper. There will be worries of preparing resumes and portfolios, imminent military enlistments (for the guys), heartbreaks, and the emotional realisation that a chapter of your life is about to close while the next one will, for the first time, have to be written in your own words.

We’ve all been there, one way or another. The least a potential employer can do in this instance, even if it doesn’t seem like the candidate might be suitable, is to provide some advice (hopefully good one) and pointers that would help set off the sails of the graduate in a general direction. The rest is up to how hard he or she is willing to paddle, and maybe with a bit of lucky wind, the boat would find its harbour.

Best of luck to the 2010 graduating class of the School of Interactive & Digital Media.

Bernard: “Wait a minute, this doesn’t look like the wedding package catalogue…”

Knockout Shoot

The crew for Knockout, a new kids reality series on Okto, came by the studio on Sunday for their latest episode shoot. Two sets of hosts (old school & new school) faced off as they tried their hands on animation.

We went with the bread and butter of basic animation demos – the bouncing ball. There really wasn’t time (or the need) to cover things like the 12 principles or even simple drawing. The assets were all prepared beforehand and the competitors hit the workstation after only a short brief on the basic concept of animation and how-tos with the software. Truth is, the guys weren’t the first we’ve come across who thought that animation’s just pressing a few buttons on the keyboard and presto – the illusion of life!

I  won’t reveal the contest’s outcome, but hopefully the episode will help kids and audiences in general appreciate the hard work and pain that animators go through just to bring a little bit of magic onto the screen.

Also want to give a shout out to the crew from Hoods Inc. and especially the hosts Haikel, Annabel, Nigel & Jermaine, who were great sports and kept the mood light all the way till 11pm (on a Sunday!).

Random Studio Toys

Blast From The Past: Ghibli Museum

As we dust off the concepts, treatments and story ideas over the last couple of years, laying them out as the team take the first serious steps towards an original animated feature (our first), I thought I’ll post an excerpt from an old blog entry after my visit to Ghibli Musuem, Tokyo in 2008.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Tokyo  24 March 2008

I left Ghibli Musuem in a somewhat sombre mood. I had little to say to my friend whom I went with, and was quiet for most of the long walk back to Mitaka station. It confused me why I was feeling that way – almost depressed. I struggled to find an answer.

My thoughts searched back to the afternoon’s visit. For 2 hours or so I walked the halls and corridors of the museum, passing by Ghibli’s famed creations, concept art, original storyboards and handwriting from Miyazaki himself, seeing the research, dexterity, talent, love and heart that went into making these timeless animated films.

I saw the uninhibited joy of children surrounded by their favourite Ghibli characters, without a worry in the world except how to get themselves on the catbus and go flying with Totoro.  I could see the wonder in the eyes of adults seemingly lost in a world that calls out to their memories, beckoning them to let their childhood return for a few moments, for they have never quite gone away – only forgotten.

As I board the train back to the city, my thoughts return to the present and it struck me: I wanted to visit Ghibli Museum because I love the films and thought I’ll have a good time and be inspired. Truth is, inspiration was never the problem. The effect on me was much more profound. I felt the presence and more significantly, the pressure of true greatness. And It was terrifying.

But as I passed stations after stations, the fear subsided, replaced by a clarity and sense of pride – almost beaming pride – that we’re in the same profession as the magicians and storytellers at Studio Ghibli. The important thing is not that we even contemplate achieving what they have done, but that we felt their spirit and understood their purpose.

If our studio’s film can touch just one person in the cinema the way Ghibli’s works touch a generation, it would have been worth every drop of sweat and tear to make it happen.