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, February 27, 2009

Animator on Animation, Part II: First Local 3D Animated Movie

The previous of the "animation" post had a number of mixed responses, good or ill, thatI find very fascinating, even to the point that I had no idea initially how some of them even knew of my little abode here. Anyhow, previously as I have mentioned, it was in general and nothing explicitly specific. This time round, my focus has more focus on something more specific.

For the Malaysian Animation industry, we have just recently hit a momentous moment in our history with the release of our first ever 3D Animated feature, "Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula" by Les Copaque Productions Sdn Bhd.

My position here is to be objective, and to be fair to the many praises heaped upon the production, the rounds of laughs and applauses in the cinema is evident enough of the overall material that this film is. I believe that no matter the comments and discussions, even if some of such were my own, if you captivate your audience well enough, then you've done it.

Hurrah! Victory!

After all, for what purpose do we make these stories and tales if not for the pleasure of our audiences? With that in mind, on the overall basis I would agree "Geng" as a definitive good start in the history of the Malaysian animated features. I would not go to the lengths of saying I am a harsh critic of these things, but typically I have specifics I in my tastes and on the whole I enjoyed the movie well enough. Which is rare for a local production because as most of those closest to me knows I don't have much liking for local works. I tend to put all productions, local and international, to more or less a similiar bar.

Every work has things we personally disagree or have reservations about, and these sometimes are the results of complications along the working pipeline and all; I would know because I had to struggle through some of them myself. Geng is no different. There are a few things I disagree, creative calls or design aspects or storyline/storytelling aspects and a few things I think could be pushed further, like the animation, audio, certain dialogues (though I think quite a number of these dialogues are good enough). These are no brainers I would think and given time, patience and the willingness to review upon feedbacks and experience, I am sure it would be ratified.

I'm not going to list all grievances because then I'd have to elaborate them all, and I would end up not finishing my own work here at the studio. But I will put two at the very least.

1. Audio. Some scenes have a chaotic sense in its number of audio elements, each vying for prominence. I know sometimes a scene have to give a sense of chaotic commotion going on but it shouldn't be to the point of making some get headaches trying to make out the sound. I do know however, from working as an editor for some 7 months or so of which I was under the 'mentorship' of an experience senior editor, that audio is much much much harder to manage that many would think. I'm still not so good at adjusting those aspects myself, but I do know enough now to appreciate and respect its complexities.
2. Minor animation flaws. Some character walks seems sliding. Some character actions does not feel the emphasis of weight to it. And as a collegue pointed out to me, he'd prefer more and stronger expressions from the characters. These are fortunately not that numerous or distinctly noticable enough to affect the overall feel of the film. And before anybody points out, I have received similiar comments on my own works as well. Oh well, we are all in the same boat perhaps :P

I would lastly, like to point out on one thing in particular. Actions scenes. They're quite good. Well, maybe not Hollywood-Good, but for me they were among the best things about the movie. Nice shots and compositions, as well as cool actions. It works and that's all that matters, nevermind that it cant go more over-the-top Hollywood like. I applaud on that matter as well as the whole "almost King Kong-like Fight" between the mother-creature and the giant snake. Truly, I thought many local film makers would be too timid or incapable of making such action/violence, even though in a cartoony manner. Geng did it, and I respect that.

I end my thoughts on this by saying that though being well aware of the lesser and more limited resources available to the fellow artists of Les Copaque compared to the productions of many international studios, we should always place our labor upon the same altar as theirs, and know that in doing so we achieve two most noble things; humility, as well the drive to be better in the future, for we can not, and should not, use the limitations of local resources as a constant justification for shortcomings.

Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula by Les Copaque has made the first step for our local industry. Will we go on to take the next steps?

--* What ever happened to the pimped out motorcycle that lost one sideview mirror during the 'racing scenes'? --

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Tracing Papers and the Philosophies of an Artist.

I have a new craze. Well... sort of a craze. Uhm.. actually it's more of a new way of doing things. It's called.... TRACING PAPER!!

I am typically a messy person by nature, and many of my initial drawings are a jumbled up pile of unorganized line strokes. Few of such mess were ever cleaned up and proper line drawn over the sketchy messy ones. As such I leave trails of...doodles. Enter the tracing paper!

With tracing paper it gets easier as I am basically drawing over on a new paper. Sure it still smudges, its an annoying and constant by product of mine, can't help it, but at least the lines are clear enough. That's an Imperial Procyon Assault Trooper concept.

Ok, got that out of my system. But now to share some thoughts I have today.

1. Talent is in regards to learn; and not to do

Anyways, in regards to the above mentioned thing on tracing paper... The idea initially is that I hate to do certain things, and I find ways to make it work, for my preference.

A dear friend of mine asked if me if I thought that she had talent in certain things. I told her yes, she does. (so much that I'd probably hate her for it :P ) But at the same time, I told her I never actually seen her doing said stuff. So how does it go by that I say she is talented? Because I was certain of her base skills that would greatly help in overcoming the learning curve of the new trade. That for me, in a way, is talent. I personally think that come what may, her current skills will enable her to find ways to solve related problems in her own way.

Nobody is born with all skills and knowledge, so I thus think talent is more related with the ability to learn a skill rather than do a skill.

2. Doing things we do not like

Another is that I advocated for doing things that we normally.... do not like.

Many among us artists do only the things we like, and post up only stuff we enjoy. I think versatility counts in this game, and one never knows when such things we hate to do can help contribute to the things we like. I know for a fact I hated doing backgrounds initially, and still do for some parts today. But I recall that my study into architecture and designs and all that helped to better my understanding and expand my ideas on doing characters and starships; my premium choice of things to draw.

We want to be artists after all, not printing machines that churn out the same thing over and over.

3. Being humans and not Gods

Nevertheless, we are still human and we must understand the limits for all of us. You see, I had this collaborative effort in storytelling I am working on, and I have provided some illustrations for it, but upon seeing what other people can do with their personal pet project, I grow very envious. 'THEY CAN DO THAT???,' I would think to myself.

But fortunately a friend told me that I can't expect to do everything for myself, and eventually we will need others to help fill out the things we cannot do for ourselves. That's why we need friends. And I am fortunate, nay... blessed... to actually have a few friends I can truly count on.

4. The cowardice or bravery of letting go.

I read an interesting entry today which is titled on "Quitting". We all heard the phrases and lines about winners never quit and such, but equally we have probably heard somewhere that letting go is often the hardest thing.

I thought on that a bit.

When I was in Inspidea, there was a lot of work, and for over a year I endured, but the work kept increasing. My constant thoughts were of quitting the job. I wanted a job that had more time for myself, true, but the emphasis here was more onto the fact that I hated all this heavy amount of work I had to do. I thought it often but I never quit. I chose not to because I felt a nagging guilt if I would do so.

End of April 2008, I sent my resignation letter, and three months later I was out. I quit! But I was excited, and felt not that much guilt. Why? Because I didn't quit out of hate or spite or escape. I quit because I want to se new horizons. Because I want to learn and experience different kind of things in life. I chose to quit because of the possibility of a bright future, and not because the conditions of a grim present.

Quitting in itself is neutral. Why you do it, now that's the real question.

5. Go for Passion

Do what you like best.

I know I said earlier to do things you don't like, so as to achieve versatility. But it is equally important to do the things you enoy most as well. To keep the spirits up I would say. And sometimes it helps to alternate between the things you like. too much of one thing is tediously boring.

I did 5 concepts of starship designs out of the required 6 for a personal project I mentioned before. By the end of the 5th, I felt drained, despite starships being one of two things I liked to draw the most.

So after that, I spent some time doing the other thing I like most. Which is... this...

I'll just call her Claire. And she likes to handle sticks....

(inside joke- hmm sticks. reminds me of a joke I shared with this one friend.... it went something like... stick it in there or something, she said.. in referring to a bunch of straws for her McD drinks of coz :P)

6. Hug

Everyone likes to be hugged. I have yet to see a person who says he/she absolutely despise hugging. Well, actually that's what I read in a book. It does gives this really good warm fuzzy feeling that somehow can rejuvenates you and makes you feel good about yourself.

Okay, I know... it's a little off topic but.... I always exchange this between my best buddy....


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thirteen to Fourteen

Yesterday was Friday the 13th.

It's supposed to be bad luck or cursed or along those lines.

Yesterday, I went to work as usual. The pretty, nerdy chick was at the bus stop, this time, for the first time since I ever saw her, wearing a skirt. Pretty. Her legs too.

Yesterday, I managed to complete a drawing, and some trial color schemes on the drawn character as well. I have't drawn a character in months, let alone color. It was a chick character at that, my second preference for my otherwise limited talents; the other being starships. It was in a way an accomplishments.

Yesterday, instead of routinely going home, I stayed around a bit after work, chatted and enjoyed the company of friends for a while. I haven't indulged in such things for months as well, and it felt good just sitting, eating, drinking and exchanging tales. It was a glimpse into the old life, I would say. Which was always... great.

Yesterday as I sit down in the train on the way home, a MAS stewardess set on the seat next to mine. Again a first. I must be doing something right. Hahahaha....

Today is February 14th.

It is Valentines Day, a day some look forward for things like love, cuddling, intimacy, caring. And perhaps.... sex. Can't forget the sex. It is also the dreaded day for some, most especially a number of lonely singles. Perhaps like myself.

Today the line is slow. Internet line that is, and so I had to hog the line for a dreadfully long time just to finish a download that isn't even mine. The result of that was I could not play EVE for the day. Can't play an online game when the line is slow as well as being dedicated for downloads. It's boring as hell with no games to play, as I have finished most of the ones I have. I need something fresh. Preferably one with good story and the availability of a hot chick in it. Or one of epic battles and great empires instead of a frantic click-fest skirmish level strategy game. Or one with ships, big ships and big guns. EVE being the sole one that I can rely to, having a line that cannot accomodate is frustrating.

Today I tried calling a few people. You know, to either go out or call favors or ask for some means of entertainment. I called and I called. Nobody answered. What the f***??? Nevermind, they'll call me back once they're not busy. HECK! They didn't call me back!! So I guess I just have to rot the whole day.

Today, I still feel a little weary with a touch of sickness that is not 100% gone yet. But most of all I feel... hungry. No matter, weekend, family can always get us all food..... Or not. Everybody seemed to have their meals covered and nobody cared to even ask me if I had anything to eat. This is family? I am tired. Lack of food. Few slices of bread and a maggie just don't cut it. I had better meals with people who barely care about me, and this is family?

Today, therefore, I feel annoyed at family. One of us is a full time housewife in a way. Used to dislike being berated by my late mother about house chores and such, this one is now exactly that, especially against me, the lover or freedom, messiness, free will, and maybe, liberalness. Another claims to like neatness. Truth is is more likely the preference is to what he feels at the time. Lacking the will to clean stuff and constantly keep things that way is one proof of otherwise, and the fact that the 'neat' urges always relate to those of personal choice only reflects the hypocrisy of the claim. Lastly, one more, has the compulsive need to be self centered, always seeking attention of one other of us, and most especially, has a fanatical obsession with faggoty, gay looking anime guys. I hate those kind of characters.

Today, I just rot.

Funny how these events turn up. It probably is a sign of either the devil favoring me or I have my fates lined up along the path of EVIL!

After all, I have an admiration for Hitler.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


It's getting thick with political matters these days. A friend of mine has written several posts already about the Malaysian Political scene... and he isn't even in the country at the moment. News on the horrors of the middle east has once again been drowned out by headlines on the political going-ons in the country. Just minutes ago, I read a headline about Karpal Singh wanting to sue the Sultan or such.

It's starting to sound like the familiar music we all might have known. Political turmoil, such a mess.

In relations to the theme I noticed and have read from my friend's blog as well, the few words that are so favored and so commonly used, but whether it rings true still, or just another cliche is for each of us to decide of course.

Funny words there are these days. It's not just the political scene sometimes. Other places, daily life, they have it too.

Some of these words or terms are used in international matters, others local, and some are those choice words I hear at my work place.

1. Freedom. I've been here before, so most will know what it means. Or what it's suppose to mean anyways. Nowadays it feels more like "What Americans and their allies wants you to be." Similiarly, democracy is not a system of government where people can vote for the leaders and representatives. It is a form of government that is friendly and compliant with the Americans and their allies. Yes, that's the example I'm seeing.

2. Corruption. Supposedly implying a tainted or misused element within a system. To fight corruption is to make it pure again. Or so we would have it believed. I think it's more like changing who gets the gains from the said corruption. Or "who" would be in place to abuse the system. Yeah! They were stealing money from the treasury! Now that I got rid of them, I stopped corruption. So how much money in the treasury can I take before someone notices?

3. Equality. Equal rights, being fair. No, that's not right. If you look at those who wants "equality" its more of a question of "I want what you have, but I don't want the baggage that comes with it". Ever seen women who complained about wanting the things men get, but never wanting to be treated like shit the way men get? That's one thing. It's simply they having good things for themselves, and now they want our good things too. That's the new equality. Isn't it fair now?

4. Racist. Is it about just simply acknowledging racial issues. Or about treating races in particular a bad way? I think it's the latter. It should be the latter. My logic side of the brain is saying so. But people seem to make it like the former. Which is it? Oh screw that. I *am* a racist. Even to my own race. Take it anyway you want it.

5. Overtime. It's not about working the extra few hours to catch up on schedule, while receiving due overtime pay. That's the past definition. Where have you been? This is the 21st century! Overtime is working your ass off without going home for not a single extra cent! Yeah! That's right... Make the compnay rich! Who cares about you? Nobody cares about, so why'd you have to care about you?

6. Drama; meaning specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" which is derived from "to do". Well, that's Ancient Greek. Modern era Malaysia seems to have drama mean either annoying "makcik" stories with eventual screaming in it, or annoying "boy and girl/man and woman in love" stories with eventual screaming in it, or a mix of such. You'd have to be a sop to admit you like drama. I thought I like to watch drama, but seeing that's what it takes to like drama, what category are some of the shows I watch I wonder?

7. Open minded. Hey I am open minded. Yeah, see? I'm listening to what you're saying. Go on, state your point. Yeah, that's your point, right? Of course, but you're wrong, see? No, shut up, really, you're wrong, my point is right! Your view is silly. Stop being stubborn. Be open minded a bit like me.

8. Religious. God wills it! Hah, can't help saying that line from Kingdom of Heaven. Being religious is about living as people did in the days of the Prophet. The most important thing is to live in medieval conditions, grow a beard, stop the process of thinking and kill infidels and just pray as much as you can throughout life. That seem's to be what some people want, I think. I'm still wondering about where "being kind to others" and being tolerant to people, or the idea that the mind is the greatest gift from God to mankind can fit in all that.

9. Fantasy. What is fantasy? Fantasy is Tolkienisque. Tolkienisque is fantasy. When you make a story, or game, or artwork which is fantasy, be sure to make it medieval setting with tall pointy eared elves in it, or stubby short dwarves that like to dig in the ground. Add magic and wizards and such. You have fantasy? What? You created another kind of fiction, but no elves? No dwarves? or even wizards? No, no, no. That's not fantasy. Of course you fantasized it in your head, but how can it be fantasy when theres no elves in it? Not even one of those pointy eared gay bastards??

We are so creative and innovative today. We are remodelling language. Great eh?