Country Report (Malaysia)

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					     Asia/Pacific Regional Seminar on Animation Culture and Industry for Promotion
                                  of Cultural Diversity
                                  (Tokyo, Japan, 16 - 18 July 2008)

                   Organised by Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
                         The Association of the Japanese Animations (AJA)


                                   Country Report (Malaysia)

                                                                         SEAMUS TAN
                                                           THE ONE ACADEMY, MALAYSIA

                           Human Resource Development for
            Animators and Producers through International Collaboration for Mutually
                               Beneficial Animation Production


Introduction
Research reveals that the animation growth in Malaysia is still in its infant stage and is unstable.
The government plays a pivotal role in the development of the animation industry. The research
concludes that the animation industry has tremendous potential to be a tremendous wealth
generator for the media industry and national economy. However, its present growth is hindered
due to many factors such as the lack of human resources and management irregularity of
government agencies at various levels.

The lack of focus and understanding of the animation industry is the main cause of the
shortcoming. Therefore, the animation industry is yet untapped as a wealth generator. There is
need to revamp the system, probably by setting up a single agency which can streamline the
initiatives to be on par with other successful countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore. Also,
the need to upgrade its technical curriculum as well as educational quality and training before
Malaysia can become a hub for its domestic animation needs and also an outsourcing destination.


Animation Producers in Malaysia
There are only a few local animation producers in Malaysia who have gone through proper
training in Project Management for animation production especially in long form animation.
Most producers are based in conventional broadcasting and filming industries.

In many companies, individuals are entrusted with producing reels based on their employment
track records in terms of portfolio. Many individuals come from non-animation backgrounds and
their work is either showcased or presented commercially. In most cases, it is a self-taught
scenario based on their on-going projects. This has resulted in cases when a job is landed by
chance or by experience, which has its pros and cons.




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                                                             Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Animators in Malaysia
Many senior animators in Malaysia come from creative fields such as illustration, Graphics and
Multimedia. Most are self-taught in their respective area and have acquired their animation
experiences and production know-how through their employment.

The lack of conventional training in areas such as drawing, painting, layouts and story-boarding
for animation production might have been the core reason for many poorly produced local
animations especially during the starting years of this industry. However, due to great passion
and enthusiasm, many have also proven their competencies and capabilities in delivering quality
products in accordance with their very own principles that have gained numerous recognitions
and have build their names through many local and international competitions, awards, screening
and festivals.

With the collaboration of local Animation companies with foreign partners during the past few
years, Malaysian talents are likely to be exposed to the real discipline of world-class production
across the value chain from scriptwriting and storyboarding to animation, audio and video post-
production.


Animation Houses in Malaysia
Many of the Malaysian Animation houses are of smaller scale compared to our neighbouring
countries, and are self-funded. Difficulties in getting funds from both the government and local
banks lowers the tendency of many local animation companies to produce long form animation
which is costly in production. There is also a lack of local talents in script-writing, story-
boarding and many other relevant principles and areas that are required for an animated feature
film. So far, there are only a few animation studios in Malaysia which have produced long form
animation.

One of the major difficulties faced by the local companies is the lack of fresh talents. To cater to
the needs and demands of man-power for their productions, many have inevitably accepted and
recruited non-animation majors.

The setup of international companies in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries like Singapore
have given the local companies a healthy competition for their growth in the global market. This
in return has led to a high turn-over rate in locally owned companies. Considerable factors
including the remuneration package that is offered by most foreign investors for local
experienced animators are generally higher compared to the packages offered by the local
companies.

Although there are numerous collaborations with foreign partners, the knowledge transfer is still
at a mediocre level due to the fact that the core team from their partners is still based in their
home country. In most areas, the present productions which involve local talents are routine-
based works, which is evident in most of the production stages. Trained talents are abundant but
they are still at the intermediate stage of skills development.



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                                                            Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
In general, the collaboration with foreign partners and associates in local and foreign productions
has allowed knowledge transfer and opportunities for local animation houses to venture into
foreign markets such as Singapore, Japan, German and America. Malaysia is still a competitive
choice of location for foreign investors in the global market due to many economic factors.
Geographical, cultural and many other influential factors are also a drawing point for foreign
investment.

Nevertheless, many local productions have gained recognitions in the past years which have been
reflective of the standards and quality of its local talent pool.


Animation Schools in Malaysia
The lack of human resources in the animation field has led many local companies to resort to
hiring non-animation majors to work in the local industry scene.

Many employers have revealed that the lack of competency among local animation graduates is
due to the discrepancy of the local schools in terms of programme structure and facilities. The
quality in which is needed to meet the industry requirements has taken a setback due to many
tangible factors such as teaching and research methodologies which are vital in setting the
blueprint for animation education.

Educational institutions are faced with many dilemmas. One of them would be the training
resources for young animation and graduates. The lack of teaching resources in terms of faculty
has always been a nagging problem with many institutions. The main reason for this shortage is
that most industry players are tied up with their work commitments. Some of them are seasoned
practitioners but they lack teaching experience and may not have the academic qualification
which is required by the local authority.

As the education factor plays an important role in the building blocks of animation education, it
is important to know that there are a few regulatory issues with the local accreditation board
when it comes to staffing and selection of lecturers. The teaching staff requirements set by MQA
(Malaysian Qualification Agency) do not create room for industry experts to share their expertise
in local universities and colleges despite their years of experience in their respective fields.


Current contributing body/organisation to the human resource development in the field of
animation

Education Institutions/sectors
It is indeed a popular choice to enhance development plans among the local educational sectors
by collaboration with industry partners. Through this channeling, it is hoped that more skilful
graduates will be produced at each level of training.

Industry Players
The strategic partnership between foreign reputable partners and local talent and companies is
able to form an international animation powerhouse based in Malaysia. Through this partnership,

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                                                           Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
original themed animation titles can and will be produced for the global audience. Such a
measure will help pool talent in developing a stronger skill based in Malaysia.


Government
The Malaysian Government is serious about promoting local animation production and is
developing a collection of works under its intellectual properties category. Through its agency,
MDEC (Multimedia Development Corporation), the government has initiated various plans to
provide development and to give funding to many animation productions. The formation of
MDEC (Multimedia Development Corporation) and the creation of an infrastructure and info-
structure in the MSC supports and nurtures the development of a world class creative content
industry in Malaysia.

Conclusion
Malaysia is a “buddy playground” for many enthusiastic local talents. Though we have a lack in
some resources, our standards are very much recognized by our neighbouring countries in Asia
and Southeast Asia. In conclusion, there is a great potential for growth if the sectors mentioned
earlier are to gear themselves and centralise their mission and goals.


This paper is written based on research findings from:
Ms.Yang Mee Eng, Dr.Fuziah Kartini, Dr.Faridah, Mr.Hassan Muthalib, Mr.Chan Moon Kiat,
Mr.C.J.See, Mr.Kamil Othman, Encik Hasnul Hadi, Mr.Nicholas Collins, Mr.H.S.Low, Ms.Alice
Dizon, Mr.Terry Thoren, Mr.Kamn Ismail, Mr.Mohamad Roffee, Mr.Steve Bristol, Mr.Andrew
Ooi.


I would like to acknowledge their contribution in the research summary findings.




                                                              Edited by Ms.Loke Va Nee,
             Academic Affair Manager | The One Academy of Communication Design, Malaysia




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                                                           Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)