What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

September 22, 2020

List of Content.

The blog is getting old and is a bit disorganised and I have not really updated it much the last few years since pretty much things that need to be said, have been said. But unfortunately the content written 5-8 years ago is still very relevant. (nothing really have changed) So I have list the important contents here so that it is easily accessible. Share to your friends or anyone that needs to know more before doing animation. I will update the posts and list when I have new stuff.

Do you really want to step into the animation industry?
(part 1)
(part 2)
(part 3)
Planning for a a career in animation. 

Choosing a local animation school and the problems. 
(part 1)
(part 2)
Conflict of interest for animation studios to run govt certified courses.
The greed and dangers of private animation schools and how it is affecting the industry. 
Dangers of animation short courses. 

Economics of Animation 
(part 1)
(part 2)

Cost of living and salary in animation in Singapore  (pay have not changed at all the last 5 years)

The animation student. 
Teaching Animation.
"Passion" and commitment. 
The mentality of the local student.
Thoughts on the local animation industry in Singapore - For the Students
Thank you for the shitty students. 
Art Advice from Joe Mad
Dealing with Failure.

State of Industry.
D Neg layoff.
Vfx Craziness.

Expectation of in a working overseas facilities.
How not to get pissed off at work.
Fixing it in post. 
Japanese Cg industry. 
Our "Dying" animation industry. 

List of animation and storytelling posts here

September 22, 2015

Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn't)

I wrote a looong article about this except Freddie Wong made a video.. that was much much better.

damn...So the next time someone whing about CG, show them this.

List of Storytelling, Animation, Technical and Creative Posts.

Storytelling, Animation and Creative Posts. 
Animation Notes From Richard Williams and Ollie Johnston.
Fuck Yeah.
Irvin Kershner Star Wars Empire Strikes Back DVD audio commentary.
Intellectual Curiosity
Creative Currency. 
"When the external validation of success replaces our spiritual sense of purpose, things get messy."
Clues to a Great Story - Andrew Stanton.
Thoughts and experiences on making a movie.
22 Pixar rules of story telling by Emma Coates. 
Interviews with Toy Story 3 Directors
What is at stake is nothing less then Life and Death.
Del Toro's words to live by. 
Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules + bonus.
The Action Movie Fairy Tale. 
Shatner Kirk vs Pine Kirk
Hayao Miyazaki's Starting Point. 
Carlos Beana notes.  
Why the hero journey's suck. 
Anatomy of Determination. 
Why and how we need better villains.
Cinematography Notes.  
Story Development in Animated Features

Visual discipline and training the critical eye. AKA I hate drawing! Why do I need to do it if I am doing 3D?
(part 1)
(part 2)

Texture Painting Notes. 
(part 1)
(part 2)
(part 3)

Do you really want to step into the animation industry? Part 3.

Continuing from my previous post....

Update : Double Negative Sg just laid off 80 people. Insight of the closure, I have realised that this article written 5 years ago.. is even more relevant today. And it is still a downward spiral.

recently in the Straits times, there were articles about the closure of a few "big" animation companies in Singapore. Big being relatively in size compared to the rest of the cg/media/animation company in Singapore.

One part of the article "Egg Story closes down" stood out for me. Which is that "while Egg Story Creative Production closed down, Egg Story Digital Art School is not affected by the closure."

The fact that the education industry for animation is actually doing relatively well while the actual animation industry in Singapore isn't, for me is a very worrying sign.

I think that the reality of the situation here is actually pretty dire. The market is getting crowded with a lot of graduates jostling for a shrinking pie.

September 18, 2015

the struggle to management your own expectation. aka how not to get pissed off at work.

I often am caught in a dilemma of deciding when is enough and when should I put all my best.

I suppose after years in the industry dealing with situations where people cannot make up their mind and stuff, it becomes hard to give my best to everything. That does not shoddy work. It just means work to the letter.

It seems when it comes to doing my own work, that seems to happen. Part of me just want to go.. "whatever"... but the other part refuses to just give in. It seems to enjoy pain.

But you do it because you are paid to. You are pissed off because your sense of self worth lies in your ability deliver it effectively. But the goal posts keep moving hence frustrations mount.

That is natural.

What I am saying is recognise the reasoning behind it
And do not take it personally
You are helping them realise a vision, and its part of the job description.
If they cannot make up their mind, they cannot make up their mind...

 It is also understanding that end result isn't just the goal. You are working with a group of people. And everyone are trying to do their jobs.

Adjust your mindset that allows you to take that role so that they trust you to do the job. The real prize is that you build a reputation of a dependable and pleasant person to work with.
Its an opportunity to build your reputation and reputation goes a long way in any industry.

Maybe its a different perspective, but in 2 years, you will look back at this and laugh at the stupidity.

Try to do the job with a perspective that you are helping someone make their jobs easier and helping them make a decision.

When u help someone, you feel good as well, whether they are aware of it or not. ask yourself how can u help make their decisons easier.

More importantly, do it for your mental well being. you do not want to go home kicking the cat..
And honestly, most of the time,
after all options are explored, its not only how good you can draw or paint.. but just to
assure that you are helping them make a decision. That you are on their side. It triggers a postive response from them. rather then a defensive one.

Once you understand this concept, it is easier not to be pissed off.

September 17, 2015

Animation and computer graphics for online media. Aka monetize your content.

With so many schools out there churning out students in software knowledge, animation principles, Teaching maya or animation skillsets have become just the bare necessity for students to be proficient. But then, the next step would be think of themselves as them as creators and even entrepreneurs.

I would even say its a need..

I used to think there is a certain bravado in being able to raise above the competition to secure a job in a decent studio. But obviously that cannot be the end game. Especially when the irony is that online digital content is fighting for an audience's time and eyeballs.

Training students to be animators and artists so that they can be good enough to be hired to work long hours in animation and vfx studios in a ever increasing market place can be rather..... sobering. IF you view it in that context.

“You will always have disgruntled people who feel they have to work long hours, but quite honestly, they should get out of it. We don’t make up the schedules and the budgets for the projects. We live within a commercial environment.”

I agree.. and while other people will advocate unionising or protest.. that is not the purpose of this post.

You need to draw eyeballs to you as an individual or your product/creation.


Layoffs and the zero sum game we play.

NOTE : Update with info from VFXSoldier and InsideVFX.

Last week, it was announced that Double Negative Singapore  are laying off people. Not just a few, but a few dozen up to 80. And then Double Negative in the UK is laying off 40-50. Amongst them are friends and ex-colleagues. The senior and experienced ones are offered to other branches in the other side of the world. But the rest if they are lucky move back to doing grunt work or just leave.

Nothing is official or verifiable yet.  But you can read a pretty good reasoning and analyse. But still it is still hearsay and rumors.

I have been trying to stay positive and see a silver lining but the outlook is pretty bleak. 

You work hard on shots that go through many iterations depending in the decisiveness of the supe/producer/director just so that it will look invisible and seamlessly on screen. And your company is opening branches in cheaper climate training your replacements.

That day have finally come.

July 22, 2015

Animation Notes From Disney Animators Richard Williams and Ollie Johnston.

After animating the open few shots for my short, I realised to my despair but relief that my animation skills while passable, are not as good as I think they are. I will need to improve my animation techniques before I continue.
Below are some of the notes I gathered, while researching online. I will have to put these into practise on a few test scenes. It will take some time but hopefully the quality of the animation will improve.
http://www.3dark.com/archives/animation/richard_williams_notes.html (From a Richard Williams MasterClass by Dave Bailey. )
What is animation?
- Change is the basis of all animation
- There are two types of animation Morphing and the type that gives the illusion of life.
- Animation is all in the timing and spacing
-You must show where the weight is, where it is coming from and where the weight is going to.
KEY FRAMES - are the story telling frames (The story board drawings)Frames where the character makes contact (heel strike pose, touching an object, etc.)
EXTREMES - are the where there is a change of direction. They are NOT Key Frames.
BREAKDOWNS are the middle or passing position.On breakdowns always add an extra bit of movement -- almost anything will work.Don't go from A to B. Go from A to Z to B
Methods of Working:
1) Straight-Ahead - Just start and see what happens. (Creative but lacks control)
2) Pose to Pose - (Lots of control but restricts creativity)
3) The "Best" Method - A combination of "Pose to Pose" and "Straight Ahead".

Steps to take before animating:
1) Before working turn off all other stimulus --"UNPLUG"
2) Write down what you want to do
3) Act it out
4) Work out the timing
5) Then animate

(Animation Notes from Ollie Johnston - from Course 1 at SIGGRAPH 94, "Animation Tricks".)

1. Don’t illustrate words or mechanical movements. Illustrate ideas or thoughts, with the attitudes and actions.
2. Squash and stretch entire body for attitudes.
3. If possible, make definite changes from one attitude to another in timing and expression.
4. What is the character thinking?
5. It is the thought and circumstances behind the action that will make the action interesting.
Example: A man walks up to a mailbox, drops in his letter and walks away.
A man desperately in love with a girl far away carefully mails a letter in which he has poured his heart out.
6. When drawing dialogue, go for phrasing. (Simplify the dialogue into pictures of the dominating vowel and consonant sounds, especially in fast dialogue.
7. Lift the body attitude 4 frames before dialogue modulation (but use identical timing on mouth as on X sheet).
8. Change of expression and major dialogue sounds are a point of interest. Do them, if at all possible, within a pose. If the head moves too much you won’t see the changes.
9. Don’t move anything unless it’s for a purpose.

10. Concentrate on drawing clear, not clean.
11. Don’t be careless.
12. Everything has a function. Don’t draw without knowing why.
13. Let the body attitude echo the facial.

14. Get the best picture in your drawing by thumbnails and exploring all avenues.
15. Analyze a character in a specific pose for the best areas to show stretch and squash. Keep these areas simple.
16. Picture in your head what it is you’re drawing.
17. Think in terms of drawing the whole character, not just the head or eyes, etc. Keep a balanced relation of one part of the drawing to the other.
18. Stage for most effective drawing.
19. Draw a profile of the drawing you’re working on every once in a while. A profile is easier on which to show the proper proportions of the face.
20. Usually the break in the eyebrow relates to the highpoint of the eye.
21. The eye is pulled by the eyebrow muscles.
22. Keep skull size constant but get a plastic quality in face — cheeks, mouth and eyes.
23. Attain a flow thru the body rhythm in your drawing.
24. Simple animated shapes.
25. The audience has a difficult time reading the first 6-8 frames in a scene.
26. Does the added action in a scene contribute to the main idea in that scene? Will it help sell it or confuse it?
27. Don’t animate for the sake of animation but think what the character is thinking and what the scene needs to fit into the sequence.
28. Actions can be eliminated and staging "cheated" if it simplifies the picture you are trying to show and is not disturbing to the audience.

**29. Spend half your time planning your scene and the other half animating.
30. How to animate a scene of a four-legged character acting and walking: Work out the acting patterns first with the stretch and squash in the body, neck and head; then go back in and animate the legs. Finally, adjust the up and down motion on the body according to the legs.

more notes at


The last are a few of John Lasseter's old Siggraph notes.

October 3, 2014

Failure by Kevin Smith.


"Some people will love, some will hate. But it'll make you feel something. And that, they tell me, is art. If that's failing, yes: I'm a big, fat failure. And I hope to fail lots more just like it in the near future."

"Don't be afraid to do weird stuff, so long as you do it cheaply and cover everyone's bets. Be bold. Be stupid, if you have to: so long as you don't hurt anybody, what's it matter how dopey your dream is? Some folks will try to shame you for trying something outside the norm; the only shame is in not trying to accomplish your dreams.

People have been telling me I'm a failure and that I'm doing it all wrong for 20 years now. Never trust anybody when they tell you how your story goes. You know your story. You write your own story."

- Kevin Smith

February 19, 2014

Vfx artists all over both side of the pond squabble over a misrepresentation of some vfx misquote. Meanwhile the world goes on.

  Over at VFXSoldier, this article caused quite a ruckus online. His following  this article kinda explains the situation quite clearly.

  It is amusing but not in a positive manner to see it from this side of the world.

My realisation is that basically vfx industry is just like any other industry. In that if they can make it cheaper somewhere else, they will. That is just basic economics. And the bottom line. If the studios can find a way to make decent vfx from the sweat shops that made nike shoes. You can bet they will go for it.

Back in the 90s, the remake of the Lost in Space movie was supposed to be the showcase of British VFX wizardry of several different houses. They were relatively inexperienced compared to the big studios in America, but it was supposed to be a kickstart for the industry there. Some projects went after but it soon slowed to a crawl until the subsidies kicked in.
Simialr deal that happened to the Irish 2D animation industry in the 80. But the subsidy they didn't sustain and so ends the animation there.

Its similar scenarios that happened in Europe with Disney Europe and smaller 2D studios.

And you know what, nobody gave a fuck. Nobody here represents the consumer who buys. They don't care as long as there is vfx, who the heck cares where is it done.

That is the reality. That is why I find this whole kerfuffle of "Whoever is hungrier or blah blah" to be is irrelevantly sad. Expected but still sad. And a good example to never believe fully about stuff in articles. The writers all have an agenda to stir up some controversy so that more people will read their articles. And everyone got trolled. Cunts.

If you really want to make a difference, the consumers are the one YOU need to have on your side. To be sympathetic with for the guys in the industry. But again.... they don't care. Why should they? As long as people get their iphones, they don't care or know about about the plight of the thousand of Fox-Conn employees. Of what they have to do to get that iphone into their hands. The challenge then is to get\generate\create publicity and awareness?

And what artists all around the world need to realise is the ever changing landscape of the industry. TV, movies in the traditional sense are going the way of the dodo in the next 20-30 years. Once creators (i do not mean the studios) managed to find a way to monetize their creation.And with high speed internet with cinema projectors, the purpose for seeing ever more expansive movies in the cinema is going to be hard to justify. They should find ways and means to get there.

When everyone is jostling for a bite of a ever shrinking pie, its every man, woman, child for themselves....

And I have not even get to China.....

This is depressing... I need to go on facebook to numb my brain....