- Experienced animators move out of country/industry, leaving knowledge gap
- Aims to nurture current & future generation of talent with right skills, mindset
Currently the Head of Production at Anima Vitae Point Malaysia, Elvis Chew’s (pic) project accomplishments includes Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures series (season 1 and 2), Moominvalley series (season 1, 2, and 3), and most recently Rabbits Mission to Mars.
A 19-year veteran of Malaysia’s 3D animation industry, Elvis, began studying art just before the local universities and colleges in the country introduce 3D animation-specific courses.
“I remember being in awe of the 3D animated lion in the Benson and Hedges commercial from back in the day. But it wasn’t that or watching movies like Toy Stories that got me into animation. It was encouragement from friends that got me into it,” recalled Elvis.
Continuation of knowledge
Despite having a passion for being hands-on in creating 3D animation, Elvis’ creative ability coupled with leadership skills has seen him transition to managerial roles for many years. It is a sacrifice that he feels he had to make to nurture the future generation of Malaysian 3D animators.
He recalled that in his early years, he had mentors who showed him the ropes. However, he also saw many experienced 3D animators move away from the country or the industry leaving a new generation of talent without experienced guidance.
“A lot of people quit leaving no continuation of knowledge. It results in an education gap,” explained Elvis. While the industry is fairly young in Malaysia, he feels that there is a lot of potential here.
Noticing that fresh talent out of university equipped with animation skills was lacking he decided to do something. During the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, he took those whose job applications were rejected by Anima Vitae and put them through a three months intensive course.
Nothing unusual about that, except that Elvis did it out of his own time and money as a way to give back to the industry.
“You see, back in the day an assignment is done by one student. Today the same assignment would be done by a group,” said Chew giving an example of how the knowledge of 3D animation students today is not as holistic as students before them.
In the two years, Chew took in two batches of six students each as apprentices and had a 100% record. All 12 found jobs at either Anima Vitae, another animation studio, or went independent.
This success paved the way for a collaboration with Circle Studio, a Malaysian animation studio that specialises in Unreal Engine, and created the Circle Studio X Anima Online Apprenticeship Programme.
Local vs International
Developing talent is not the only shortcoming of the local 3D animation industry, noted Elvis.
As the head of the production at Anima Vitae Point, an animation studio based in Finland with a studio in Malaysia, Chew had experienced what it is like to work with foreign and local studios.
“A foreign project tends to have multiple directors. This way decisions can be made promptly. A director would be accessible when a decision is critical. In contrast, a Malaysian project tends to have a single director who tends to become the bottleneck,” he shared.
Foreign studios also teach their talent to understand the importance of imparting experience to new talent within the company and giving them a holistic knowledge of a project.
Anima Vitae Point
Elvis admits that he misses being hands with 3D animation. Still, he is proud of his time at Anima. He trusts and believes in his team at Anima which is one of the leading 3D animation studios in the Nordic region.
The company first opened a studio in Malaysia in 2013. Chew joined them in 2015 as a production supervisor, before becoming its head of production in 2017.
“We primarily service European projects and develop our IP (intellectual property). We are popular with our efficient pipeline, quality work, and transparent collaboration,” he said.
The studio was so trusted, it was given the responsibility to handle one of Finland’s most treasured intellectual properties, Moomin, a beloved children’s character from a series of novels, short stories, and a comic strip by Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson
Currently, Anime Vitae Point Malaysia has over 80 members and is still expanding.
Anime Vitae as whole is currently working on two major projects, amoung others. One is Niko 3, a feature film about a reindeer set to be released in 2024. The other is Fleak, a feature film based on a shorn animation that won the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award in March 2020 at Cartoon Movie 2020. Fleak is set to release in 2025 and is said that the Malaysian team is heavily involved in its production.