Photo credit : Dustin | Flickr
By the time secondary school ended, I had 14 years worth of drawings that adorned paper, sketchbooks, textbooks, and virtually any medium a pencil could work on. Still, drawing was no more than a hobby at that time. I graduated from secondary school as a science student with grades good enough to enter a prominent discipline. However, the best of my interests and talents were not in the sciences – instead, I wanted to do something of the arts. I wanted to pursue Animation.
In Malaysia, art degrees are not actively encouraged, thus attracting few pursuers. Throughout my 11 years in school, I discovered no one who shared my passion, and I did not have many tertiary education options to choose from either. Furthermore, I could not foresee a local career in Animation in the short or long run. On the bright side, my parents were supportive of my decision, and I was fortunate enough to have a close relative who had taken a similar path. As such, I had an idea of the path I needed to take to become an animator.
I will not lie; while possible, animation or any art degree is not as easily pursued in Malaysia as compared to other countries. Malaysia is a young and developing nation; hence, its immediate needs are not in the arts. Therefore, if you are an aspiring artist – be it a fine artist, graphic designer, or animator – you will find your talent admired, but not necessarily appreciated. Apart from the limited level of education provided locally, scholarships will certainly be harder to procure.
Nevertheless, rare as they are, Animation programmes are still offered in Malaysia. The only universities known to offer full diplomas and/or degrees in Animation when I first began my journey was The One Academy and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT). Currently, more universities are likely to offer similar courses, though the aforementioned institutions would be among one’s best choices as they have run these programmes for several years now.
I started my journey in Animation at LUCT, where I received my Diploma in Classical 2-D Animation. Following that, I had the choice of remaining in LUCT to gain a degree in 3-D Animation. However, I had a personal goal; I wanted to pursue my degree in the United States instead. While studying abroad may not be everyone’s ideal choice for various reasons, alternatives are always available.
A more affordable option is to complete your tertiary education in the universities mentioned earlier. From what I gathered, work opportunities for Animation in Malaysia are present and progressively increasing. Otherwise, regional divisions of established Animation corporations in our neighbouring countries are worth looking into.
As a senior Animation student, I can testify that Animation is an extremely interesting field to venture into. If you have the passion for cartoons, studying Animation will give you practical insights on the history and methodology of Animation. In a strange way, your homework consists of watching animated movies and TV shows at times. However, as fun as it sounds, it requires just as hard work as any other career.
One thing I learnt while studying Animation is that watching it completely differs from creating it. As with any other career, never step into Animation assuming that it is easy and effortless. For what we lack in textbook reading, we make up in much-needed observing, thinking, and hands-on work to create the magic of moving images.
As a forewarning, Animation is likely to burn a hole in your pocket. Thankfully, there are ways to raise funds: undertaking full-time jobs while waiting for SPM results or part-time jobs during your college years help tremendously. If you have the time and patience, a degree in arts or Animation can always be attained a little later in life, as exemplified through countless stories of individuals who began their walk in Animation much later, yet still found and maintained jobs in the industry.
If you are an aspiring animator who firmly believes that Animation is your life-long career, stand strong for your dream and persevere. Obstacles, oppositions and challenges will arise, but let your passion drive you to overcome them. Work well in school because good grades are just as important in the arts as they are in the sciences.
Maintain a humble and teachable mindset, as each day of an animator’s life is a learning experience. Make good relations with the people in the small Animation industry – after all, they are whom you share a common interest with, besides potentially encountering them as future employers, contacts or mentors.
Finally, I wish all aspiring animators the best in your Animation adventure, and I hope to meet you in the industry someday!
Marilyn Ee graduated from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology with a Diploma in Classical 2-D Animation. She is currently pursuing her degree in 3-D Animation at California State University, Northridge, California. With her passion for Animation and desire for academic excellence, she looks forward to gaining new experiences in the Animation industry.
Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.
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