Usamah Zaid Yasin, director and producer of popular animated television series Ejen Ali, believes talent and innovation can take local animation to greater heights.
1. HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY BENEFITTED THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY?
As opposed to more established industries (animation in particular) such as Hollywood, which has the financial resources, infrastructure and talent to create and innovate more rapidly to meet the demands of today’s viewers, the local scene is simply at the mercy of what comes after.
Most Malaysian studios use off-the-shelf tools that are readily available to complete their work, so we don’t really get much chance to customise our own software or programs etc. However, being on the consumer end is not always bad; it has empowered homegrown animators to push their projects to greater heights.
For the team here at Wau Animation, I feel blessed to be backed by talents who are always ready to experiment with new tools. This is the key to creating stunning and memorable work by exploring new ways to animate.
2. WHAT IS NEEDED TO TAKE LOCAL ANIMATION TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
More exposure and awareness. Growing up, I had to personally deal with the stigma surrounding the arts and creative industry which is not rightfully championed.
It’s tough when parents don’t understand the value animation can add to the professional world. Many straight A students are also creative and people need to realise this. I’ve met countless talents who were discouraged from pursuing the arts but decided to rebel against their parents’ decisions.
To grow the industry further, focus should not only be given to churning out great animators and trainers but also to quality equipment and facilities that play a crucial role.
3. THE FIRST ANIMATION WORK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
I have always admired the animations produced by Pixar and DreamWorks. I love The Incredibles because the movie came out when I was still a student and it inspired me to pursue this line.
4. TELL US MORE ABOUT EJEN ALI SEASON 2?
The new season sees an expansion of the Ejen Ali universe. Ali enrols at Mata Training Academy where he will face more challenges. The first season was completed in January this year and the team has been working tirelessly for this new season. You can watch the first season on tonton.com.my.
5. WHAT MAKES THE EJEN ALI SERIES UNIQUE?
I think it strikes the right balance between the story plot and visuals. Many people have responded with encouraging reviews on our animation visuals, such as the texture of the hair. Also, our great working relationship with Primeworks Studios has made it all the more special. Whatever happens in the future, I’m sure it will lead to something greater.
6. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CHARACTER IN THE SERIES?
You can’t honestly ask a parent to choose a favourite child! That is impossible and unfair (laughing).
7. SOME OF THE TOOLS OR APPLICATIONS USEFUL FOR ANIMATION WORK?
Mudbox, a computer-based 3D sculpting and painting tool, and Maya XGen, which is a geometry instance that allows us to populate scenes with archived geometry and style hair/fur.