Imperial Command of the Raccoon General

Thoughts and Memoirs of a Ring-tailed and Masked Dominator of the World

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General of the mighty Raccoon Army

Friday, December 05, 2008

My thoughts...

Goodness. goodness. Of all the turmoil.

So filled out with work that, I haven't noticed the one thing.

Raya haji is around the corner. Christmas and New year coming along soon. Not to mention awal muharram. Add that with my planned vacation next week, the whole december is pock marked with holes in the working schedule.

Which means a lot of time offs. Which is good.

Because transiting between 3 jobs in past 2 months have left me worried over my declining savings account and the need to properly fulfill expectations of new employers. I barely had time to consider when to take time offs and apply for leave and the like that these past 2 months have been like... years.

Work has been so-so, but I have to make a point in one thing. I come to believe that any work is so-so, as long as we don't see how it works for us in the long run. The point right now is, I'm not sure of my prospects in the new place, and where I am going with this job. I have no vision as to where I would end up in here. I'm sticking it out so far because the money is good. But that's about it.

Fact of the matter is, I'm concerned that I have developed my skills solely in the animating line, that in other creative aspects, I've totally neglected it, and is therefore not likely that should I choose to leave, I would find a job other than animating. Which further improves animating skills.

It's a vicious cycle, as a friend would once say, and I'm left to ponder, is the only way out of this predicament also requires me to leave the industry completely? I don't know. But I do know that the past months I have held to a new believe. Working your way with what you know is not the way to achieve the dream I hold for myself. That dream is freedom. And the road to freedom lies in opening one's eyes.

Ah well, that's enough thoughts for the day. I only thought of this because we had a prospective new employee turning up today for interviews, and we saw his art portfolio and by god, he was good. I have to admit I am a little jealous and can see him taking up things that are no longer feasible for me these days...

Gahhh... I need sleep. But there are comrades I need to help finish their work....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Animator on Animation.... finally

Hi, I am a raccoon and a 2D animator.

Though I am an animator for over two years, working in a country (Malaysia) that strives to push the industry to higher, intermational standards, I have never really commented much on the said industry, mainly because I had other focus and aspirations aside animation. Today though, I've had the opportunity to discuss and talk about animation with my mentor and animation director, who has over 13 years of experience doing animation jobs from clients local and abroad. So I'll indulge part of my 'lessons' and findings for the day.

It came about when I curiously stumbled myself into some reknowned local animation work that is to say the least, one of the more talked about ones. I'll mention no specifics, and I'll verify nothing on the way of identity, so speculate all you want, I won't divulge more than what I am putting here.

To be perfectly honest, the makers of the work were never high on my list, not because they're not skillfull (they're quite good) but rather because it's a personal discomfort I have towards a few of their ways that I will not elaborate further.

Now these people have some hype and recognition, locally and at least in the region, perhaps. Regardless of personal opinions, I felt that they have achieved quite a great thing there with their work. Nationalistic sentiments made me feel proud of such achievements even though I am not at all related to the work itself. But I was curious to know what some of the other veterans and collegues with me would think. That, and the fact that after reviewing part of the work, there was something that felt a little I couldn't place it so I deferred to my director's expert testimony on the matter.

He took one look and he knew it already.

It was in the design elements mostly. In short hand, he stated that the design was not mature enough, compared to what is out there, especially for the level of work these people are aiming for. Mature here refers not to an M rating suitable for viewers 18 and above, but rather the fact that he said the designs were 'half done'. It seemed to him not a question of whether or not there was room for improvements; it should have been improved regardless, the designs felt uncompleted.

He also mentioned that some of the designs were also not suited for the general requirements of the scenes and the like. I wasn't too sure what exactly was needed, but this largely for the secondary elements.

What I missed totally was the aspect of animation. I thought it was good, but my director was not satisfied with it. Simply put, while he applauds them for trying, it did not impress him. I wondered what would really impress this veteran of 13 years in the industry. I mean, 13 years is good compared to my own measly 2 years plus, but in the big picture, even he was quite young. If a person of 13 year experience was not satisfied, what would one of 20 or 30 years would say? Anyhow, I am both honored and quite literally, a little scared to be under his wing.

That aside, he questioned the matter of management, which while we have no definite point of reference to comment, he did say that many studios past closed down despite good quality works, recognition and healthy supply of sponsors, because the management was not solid. Maybe he is old school, but he believed that one in the industry needs to start at the bottom, management side and creative side alike. It didn't sit well with him that these people jumped up too high so soon. Relevant experience was lacking, especially if very trying challenges arise, and the scary part was that he said he's seen it all before. He merely noted that these people have to be careful.

I am not sure, maybe he doesn't see any veterans in that group of people, or maybe he really has seen it all repeat over and over. But what I do know is that in my 2 years, most of what he says regarding the industry was correct and proved right.

It makes me glad to be here, where I am now, to stand amongst seasoned people far more experienced than I am, for I know I will have lots to learn and will never be content to stay at my level of quality.

In summary, I still think we should be proud of our achievements, and the country has reason to be proud of those who achieved it. But such pride must be tempered with humility, and in such environment, humility can come from looking up to those whose wisdom has flourished in the field over the years. I thus feel that to find yourself the top most with no one else to look up to a scary prospect, for we are then ever more vulnerable to be simply content with what we have and not look for more.


I'm not talking about national government politics.

I'm talking about daily politics. I'm talking about those politics that I see day to day, with my own eyes. I hope you'll excuse me if you find that the issue isn't general enough or related to a broad range of people, because this is about my social network.

This is the gossip politics, as i would call it; rumors and gossip being implemented into an existing working system that it affects the day to day running of the organization.

Once in a while, I would hear a collegue, a friend, or an acquaintance speaking thus and thus about another person. More often than not, the matter being said is negative. And more often than not, the matter is downright.... wrong. And I'm telling you this because I am a curious person, and whenever I can I try, without being too much a busybody, to hear both sides of the tale. Of course I have to deduce which parts of the tale is acceptable and which part is exxageration using my own logic and observation. This is the gossip part.

Why this happens, I can not say for sure. But we all have been brought up differently and we all see things in our own way to be sure, with some differences on how we view similiar matters. As an example, if some one questions about my religion, others might say its intruding or rude; I say the person is just being inquisitive. It's because I chose and was largely living among people who are open minded enough to be questioned, while others might live in a state of total unquestioning obedience towards the tenets of faith.

Thus, similiarly, we perceive the actions and ethics of people at work differently. A friend of mine is said to be one who easily complaints too much. The friend is unsatisfied with how he/she is being treated and demands for more. Or the person in question is making noise over some issues he/she is experiencing. I can see why others would label him/her as annoying, and have negative view on the person. But mostly these views are 2nd or 3rd hand information being passed down several tiers through other people. When I talked to the person in question, I can finally see the logic behind the persons actions. Of course, thats that person's point of view.

But in at least a few cases, I did my own observation and studies, and I find out the person was on the level, and that the general society is the one who got most, not all, of the facts wrong. People say he/she is bad, I found out he/she is an interesting person in their own right.

All that is still within the realm of acceptable interactions because personal opinion is for you yourself to decide. Others should not decide for you.

What ticks me off is when these personal opinions affect official matters and procedures. A person is looking for an opportunity of advancement for example, is turned down because the back talk among the other people is that he/she is a bitch/bastard? That's just wrong. And of course that's the clear cut example. Reality isn't always so clear. Back talk can sometimes affect our perception, for example, that by the time you actually had to judge the persons character yourself, you'd be so easily inclined to take anything that might support the theory. Suppose someone is accused of whining too much, and you try to be objective, but having been bombarded by these rumors and gossip, all it needs to convince you that a person is whiny is just the few, maybe just one or two, complaints coming out of the person. Or better yet, every complaint is taken as supporting evidence to the theory but every positive redeeming aspect easily cast way without much thought.

Then you ruin that person's chances and opportunity by denying him/her completely. We close off every legal and professional option within our power to them. Then we go off explaining why we did it, and said we remained objective.

I know for example a person who condemned another quite often, saying the other mistreated her because the other misunderstoof her and such, and this person was telling it to a lot of other people about the matter. I talked to the other person later on, and found out that the former was the one who misunderstood. Suffice to say, the latter had no misgivings to the former, and that the former just assumed the latter had, thus created his/her own misgivings towards the latter, claiming the latter misunderstood them.

I know I myself am guilty of all this in the past.

But there were times, when I labelled off these people but God was kind enough to let me know them personally later on in life, and I found for the most part, they were great people. There was a girl I knew in class, people called her a bitch and an attention seeker. I found out she was a friendly, kind and engaging person who is ever willing to cheer you up. Suffice to say, I still talk to her occassionally but have not said a word to those people who gave her a bad label.

I can't ask everyone to give anyone a chance, that's for you yourself to decide. But I would like to encourage that as soon as you think you had someone figured out... think again.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Appreciation for the People I Know

I had a revelation of sorts.

Many times now, I have attended functions and the like that encourage a positive outlook on life, and whilst that is beneficial, I will share intimate details on the matter of these functions personally, and not here.

In some of the... agendas we had there was related to the matter of appreciation and acceptance. Like many around us I suppose, I took the lesson as expected, like a classroom session, to be logged into my list of "useful things to know in life" but never really reviewd upon later. At least that is how it was initially.

Not until recently, barely few days ago, that I come realize, how much I had taken for granted the things I have and the friends I keep, for good or ill. I realized most of all that in both ways of the relationships, we sometimes never knew what the take we have for each other. Why is she my friend? And why am I her friend? Crucial to this I must point out that I'm not here to accuse any of my friends that they're keeping me around for the wrong reasons, or waiting to make use of me simply as a tool.

I understand simply that many would be well enough to be, and remain, a friend to you, but the way they express it, and their own personal idea of what that is greatly differs. I think it is foremost that one recognizes what others see in you, as much as what you see in them; after all we wish to avoid having negative assumptions on them. Friends are hard enough to get and harder still to maintain. The fact that some are willing to stay with us, for however their reasons might be viewed upon, is something we must take with the utmost care.

The second step to that is the fact that I think we do not acknowledge enough on how others mean to us. I don't know, maybe for guys such admittance ruins the 'macho' and cool image we would like of ourselves, and maybe even some girls are starting to subscribe to such thinking. There was a time where it's common, I suppose, for girls to be very vocal on emotional matters, but these days I've seen alarming number of them showing signs of 'acted' disdain for any talk of emotinally related matters. This is unfortunate really. I like strong women and I've said that many times over in this blog, but I don't equate a strength in character to be of cold in heart.

I don't know. Maybe it's just my view.

But what I do know is that day after day, we talk to friends. We tell them things, the latest happenings, and we ask them in turn for their version of it. We ask them for help, as much as they asked us for help. But in all that how many times have we made clear how much they mean to us? There was a saying that action speaks louder than words. I am here to refute that. I believe, there words are no subsitute for action, but then action is not a substitute for words either. You need both. If God didn't intend for you to hear words, he would have given us eyes and limbs only, and no ears to hear words from others, nor the capacity to voice out those words.

If you have a spouse, or girlfriend or boyfriend and the like, (and call me a dick for reverting to somewhat of a sterotype in this example, and a gender based stereotype at that! :P but it is just that... an example, theoretical...) I think that for most guys, its not enough that you show your appreciation. You should tell her of it as well. I don't think a few nice words can do much harm to one's self image, in fact it might be better for it. Similiarly, for a lot of girls I noticed, don't just tell him how you feel. I personally feel that those words, reinforced with some action and show of appreciation can go a long, long way.

I'm not with anyone. So it might not be my place to say. Or you might think it's not worth hearing from the likes of me. In which case, theres typically a little X button you can use at the top right of the window....

But still... I do have friends. Real friends. And I feel it's worth noting how much I appreciate them, and how wonderful they all are; for all their misgivings, flaws and the little annoying things they do to me. Yes, some of you annoy me to some point. But I'm growing to accept that for the lot of you. And it's still worth saying. I did this (really I did!:P) during one night. I recalled of my good friend, and for no other reason than the mere thought of it, I sms-ed the friend, and after some few choice introductory words, I told her that she is wonderful, and may she always be herself.

Just that. Out of the blue, you might say.

I got a positive reply. And I can't tell you how good it is to have made the day brighter for a friend. Perhaps I'm being idealistic, or quite the dreamer here, but can you really tell me you don't feel good after making a close friend feel better? So I suppose I'll end by saying it again, to any who stumbles on the page.

You are wonderful.

May you always be you.