Malaysia’s animation companies have evolved quite drastically over the years. Before the arrival of advanced technologies in animation, puppet-shadow play known as wayang kulit was thought to be the pioneer of Malaysian animation.
Now, our country’s animation industry isn’t far behind the Japanese and Western markets as we’re steadily growing despite being relatively new in the game.
From a humble beginning, here’s a look at a brief history of the Malaysian animation company’s growth over the years.
A Documentary Beginning
To produce documentaries and public announcements of the government, the British colonialists in 1946 created The Malayan Film Unit which would later be renamed to Filem Negara Malaysia.
In 1983, the country saw its first in-country animation short, Hikayat Sang Kancil which was designed by Anandam Xavier.
The series became a hit amongst the public, and it would see many more additional hand-drawn animation shorts in the following years such as Sang Kancil dan Monyet (1984), followed by Sang Kancil dan Buaya (1987), Gagak Yang Bijak (1985) and Arnab Yang Sombong and Singa Yang Haloba (1986), written and directed by Hassan Abd. Muthalib.
Growth Led To New Career Opportunities
With the establishment of FilmArt (in 1984) and Lensamation (1987), many saw a bright future in the animation career path.
Thus, training schools and programs were instituted. It was also during 1996 that RTM aired the country’s first animation series, Usop Sontorian which was well received even in Japan, earning it a screening at Asian Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan in 1996.
Entering A More Modern & Global Approach
Since Malaysia has entered a modernised era through the country’s fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad efforts, the animation industry also began to steadily grow as well.
With the use of digital technology in production houses, Kamn Ismail also introduced the direct-to-system method of drawing into computers.
In the year 2000, Nien Resurrection by Young Jump Animation Sdn. Bhd. became the first animated animation film in the country.
Government Support Plays A Key Factor For The Animation Industry In Malaysia
In a full scale effort to promote locally produced animation, Malaysian animation companies are pushing their works to the global market.
The year 2000 also saw success for the country’s animation industry when Multimedia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) produced Saladin: The Animated Series for Al Jazeera Children’s Channel.
Several animation films and series that highlighted Malaysian culture with universal values became a hit global market. Those are; Upin & Ipin, Bola Kampung, Ejen Ali, Geng: The Adventure Begins, BoBoiBoy and many more.
Knowing the potential of our country’s animation industry, the government agencies, Multimedia Development Corporation and Malaysia Animation Creative Content Centre (MAC3) offer support by providing grant schemes and top notch facilities.
Through those, many Malaysian animation companies are able to grow and be able to compete with other countries in the global market.
Being the only ASEAN country to make it through the Academy Award nominations through Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal in 2020, the country’s industry shows no sign of stopping as many local studios even survived during Covid-19 thanks to broadband infrastructure.
Now that the country is slowly adjusting to the new normal, many animation companies are ready to shift to full gear and continue to produce spectacular animations, catering to the local and global market.
Aside from the entertainment and film industry, local animation companies are also employing their expertise in various industries as well.
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