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

November 14, 2013

Write from experiences and things that get a reaction from you.

I have students struggling to come up with ideas for stories to tell.

The traditional method was to come up with a concept/morale and a premise. The problem I found out was that you are often trying to.come up with a variation on a theme. And the concept.or.morale is unrelatable to the students. So my suggestion is to come up with a scenerio or situation that you have experienced or affected you and use that as a starting point. Because you are affected by it. Not just a story you heard or read. But actually experienced. So it immediately becomes relatable. And easier to.come up with situations and responses.

August 28, 2013

Carl Sagan's sayings.

-          Inspirational stuff.  

      Carl Sagan once said “Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome universe that utterly dwarfs — in time, in space and in potential — the tidy, anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.”

-          The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning.”

-          How much more satisfying had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us, its other occupants put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a celebrated story in the Western tradition like this, except that not quite everything was there for us. There was one particular tree of which we were not to partake, a tree of knowledge. Knowledge and understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this story. We were to be kept ignorant. But we couldn’t help ourselves. We were starving for knowledge—created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, it is why we no longer live in a garden: We found out too much. So long as we were incurious and obedient, I imagine, we could console ourselves with our importance and centrality, and tell ourselves that we were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity, though, to explore, to learn how the Universe really is, we expelled ourselves from Eden. Angels with a flaming sword were set as sentries at the gates of Paradise to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles and wanderers. Occasionally we mourn that lost world, but that, it seems to me, is maudlin and sentimental. We could not happily have remained ignorant forever.

-          We long for our parents to care for us. To forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. “

-          Better by far to embrace a hard truth than a reassuring faith. If we crave a cosmic purpose let us find a worthy goal.

June 11, 2013

Sad state of the Visual Effects Industry and VFX in Los Angeles – 100 hour weeks & homeless

This post below from Scott Squires makes for sobering read of the state of the industry over in the States.

"For profit schools are multiplying at an incredible rate and being funded by money machines such as Goldman Sachs to sell dreams to people, young and old. The problem is those dream don't exist. These schools are churning out thousands of graduates to an industry without jobs. The only selection process at these types of schools is can you pay or can you sign this student loan from the government.  Your aptitude and your potential talent is never evaluated. Guidance counselors never reveal the reality of the industry you're getting into or your odds. In most cases these diploma mill types of schools teach very little of value and even those that do now have cranked out so many others it doesn't matter. It's hard to stand out and even when you do it's hard to get a job. When you do get a job you will likely be working long hours and then have to move to find your next project.

and connected to that story by Jeff Hauser
"Victor has been unable to find other work because he’s often working so many hours, frequently reaching 80 to 100 hours a week. The stress is so intense that he feels it is affecting his mental health and mild dyslexia is getting worse. He worries about legal remedies or going public because he needs to work and fears the company he works at the most would be put out of business. Victor concludes, “There would be a scandal if it was ever found out that the worlds largest recording artists used a sweat shop/borderline slave labor in Los Angeles for their own personal gain in digital cosmetics/beauty.”"
"Are the schools doing enough to prepare graduates for the real world? How can artists deal with abuses and labor law violations? How can we fix an industry where a sort of Stockholm Syndrome exists where artists love the work so much that don’t seek available remedies because they worry the company they work for would go out of business if they had to pay properly or on time as required by law?
All I can try to do here in terms of wrapping up this story is to reiterate some common labor issues. These issues are common to all crafts  - visual effects, previs, games, motion graphics… and cross all borders."

These sad state of affairs is coming to be the norm in the industry. And with so many private schools world wide popping up feeding the dreams of the young people. If you are reading this and or know someone who is thinking of entering into the visual effects industry or related fields, please get them to read about the scams that these art for profit schools pull. Do not get into debt trying to get into the industry. Especially to get student loans to get into VFX. Animation is still something doable because it is flexible enough to branch out but even then, you got to have some artistic talent.

May 17, 2013

Thoughts and experiences on making a movie. WIP.

Why make short films. 

I thought there must be more to life then to make other people's movies. I saw the future that lay ahead of me if I continued the path of where my career was going. Overworked with no life.. Now I am overworked with no life AND no money. But surprising really happier. And I finally made my own short. GODAIZER

My honest intention was that before I get too old to do it, I want to tell a story that is my own. I think I got stories to tell that people might like and I wanted to have a shot at making my own short and seeing where it can take me. But the only way to find out is to do it. I only got one life. I do not want to look back and think of excuses why I didn't do it. I do not want excuses. It is also a escape from the mundane reality of every day living.

There were a hosts of other reason. My ego being one of them. I wanted to make my own movie.  I do not want to be a director or a art director for hire. There are much more talented and capable people out there doing it for a living.

In Singapore, its really hard to find a job and make a living. The stress level is already so damn high. To find job, to get married, to have enough money to pay mortage for a flat etc.. Constant worry and stress. You can consider making the short as an outlet for the stress and a form of expression. 

But the one thing that I did not realise was the connection with people. That people like your work. The stuff you create. That you bring a little bit of enjoyment to people out there. That was something unexpectedly rewarding.

April 30, 2013

Art Advice From Joe Mad.

Below is art advice from Joe Madureira. Crazy Talented Comic Book Artist and Creator of Darksiders and Darksiders II.

I couldn't say it any better then he can. I am still overcoming number 5.

It is from his facebook status.


*Art Advice*

Do you really want to be an artist? Or a successful working professional?

Believe it or not there is a difference. I’m not usually a soapbox type guy, I don’t like instructing people, and I think I’m a terrible teacher. But hey, it’s Friday and I’m in a strange mood. So here goes:

I’ve noticed that a good number of my fans happen to be aspiring artists themselves. This is for all you guys. I get asked constantly: “Where should I go to school?” “What classes should I take?” “What should I study for anatomy?” “What pencils and paper do you use?” “Should I be working digitally now instead of traditionally?” “How do I fix my poses? Learn composition? Perspective?” “When am I going to develop my own style?” “Who were your influences?” “Teach me how to draw hands!” The list goes on…

Here’s the deal. All of that stuff *is* important, and it may nudge you in the right direction. A lot of it you will discover for yourself. What works best for one person doesn’t work for another. That’s the beauty of art. It’s personal. It’s discovery. DON’T WORRY ABOUT ALL THAT CRAP!

Instead I’m going to answer the questions that you *SHOULD* be asking, but aren’t. These are things that have only recently occurred to me, after doing this for 20+ years. These things seem so obvious, but apparently they elude a lot of people, because I am surprised at how many ridiculously talented artists are ‘failing’ professionally. Or just unhappy. The beauty of what I’m about to tell you is that it doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what your art style is.

April 19, 2013

reality check 1.

Note to self. Be very grateful to have friends that tell it like it is and to keep your.ego in.check. Cannot underestimate how important that is.when you.are.so.focused on.achieving something grand and actually.not.as.good.as.you.think u are.

April 12, 2013

"When the external validation of success replaces our spiritual sense of purpose, things get messy." - Chris Oatley.

I have just finished reading this bloody well written article below by the amazing Chris Oatley.


I really encourage animation students and working animators to go read it fully.  This particular part below is so so true to me personally. And I want to put it here to remind myself.

"Are you an artist? …a visual storyteller?

…then keep drawing and telling stories.

You can’t let fluctuations in the industry and/or economy kill your creativity.

…and you don’t need a job in the animation industry to validate your calling.

The world needs visual stories. Humanity thrives on visual stories.

I think you should draw or tell the stories inside of you even when you aren’t getting paid.

…especially when you aren’t getting paid.

We must distinguish the truth of our internal calling as creative people from all external forces."

April 10, 2013



Type down all the things in the head. Story, personalities. etc.. all on paper. Mix and match. Might create happen accident,

Experiment with the personality THEN be clear. Trust gut instinct. Because their personality will dictate their reactions and actions. And for the love of god... Pls write down. DUn just procrastinate blindly. Writing down is very good. because it will help you think!!!! PLS PLS! PLS!!!! AAARRRRGGGGGHHH!!!

Ignore the nonimportant stuff. FOCUS!!!!  Highlight the ones that stand out!!! BOLD it! Or color it.

DO NOT LET The nitty griity details get you DOWN. FOR FUCK SAKE!!!! Get the MAIN IDEAS AND BEATS OUT. ARRGGHHH. They are serious eriouss mind fucks and more importantly time waster.

April 9, 2013

Conflict of interest for animation studios to run govt certified courses.

 Locally, there are several companies offering WDA certified animation courses. All of these courses are partially funded by the WDA. I applaude the willingness of the govt to spend the money to help the industry. But I feel that this is actually doing more harm then good.

The key issue for me is that the revenue of these schools come from the subsidies given to the students. So say a  course fee of $10,000, a local students just needs to pay $1,000.00 with the remaining being paid for by the WDA. You can quickly see a dilemma when the company will lose revenue for failing a student. Therefore I question the worth of that certificate given at the end of the course.
Currently there are already 4 polytechnics, a couple of private schools that are churning out hundreds of animation students a year. Such courses are adding to very crowded market.

In addition, recently one of schools which also happens to run a animation studio let go of almost this entire production crew while at the same time, still are offering courses in animation. i am sure you can appreciate the irony and hypocrisy of the situation.

On top of that, Lucasarts Singapore just let.go of its entire games dept.

We have a huge pool of cg artists jostling for a smaller pool of jobs. While these schools chase the govt dollar.

disclosure : I teach animation at a private art school  in.Singapore. I often am torn by the dilemma of.the situation. But I believe that we are offering the students a better chance at succeeding in the industry.

April 7, 2013

Keep Calm and Keep on animating.

Few months back, I was sitting behind my class of 3D animation students during studio time when I read about Dreamworks letting go of up to 500 artists. This was a day after Rhythm and Hues are rumored to be bought over by Primal Focus.

And that was when I felt the hair raising behind my neck. The accumulated silent frustration that these students in front of me are going into an industry that is facing cross roads. Some of them I honestly believe can go far in their careers. If there is a industry to get into.

But I do not know what future holds for them. I initially thought to be optimistic. That they will find jobs. 

Then later, R&H files for bankruptancy and Pixmondo is going to close their Detriot and London Studios followed by Shanghai.

Then Lucas Arts Closed. With plans announcing that ILM might be affected too.

 My original intention of teaching was to have time to make my own short and that I used to enjoy teaching. Especially young eager minds. But  I suddenly felt small. That the value of my self -worth is judged by myself on the success of these students. I felt disgusted at how pitiful I am. But at the same time, that is what drives me to push them harder and to make them better in hope that some of them can make it into one of the big boys and/or create their own companies/ideas. The hope that the success of these students will entice even better quality to join the course in a ever improving  circle.

Then I came across this article below.

"now listen, there is nothing wrong about treating this as a hobby, it is a wonderful satisfying hobby to have. but if you want to be a professional, be it a comic artist a game artist a n animator a designer... you will have to put in the time, you will have to pay your dues.

life is a bitch, it will do you no favors. all you can get out of it is what you are willing to fight for. it is a hard battle, but it is worth it.

see, at a certain point it truly is about this. what is it that you want to do in life, do you want to spend your life being slowly killed on the inside  by the job you hate while dreaming of your could haves, or will you fight for your dreams."

That quote above struck me and it just brought me back to when I was in school stuck doing something that I didn't like to do. After growing up and having to worry about bills, jobs mortage, getting fucked over by bosses etc.. especially in this pressure cooker of a country..But I understand that in spite of the shit that is going down, this is still what I want to do. And i have to be good enough at it to make a living creating ideas, stories with these tools. Be it a pencil or a software package. It is still a tool to tell a story. Stories that will bring people to a different world or to escape reality for that few minutes. Or to relive their childhood memories... Or simply just to feel.

VFX industry craziness

This is about 2 months late.... but Wwith all the angry and frustrations over the Oscars snub for R&H guys who won best VFX, it confirmed my long held suspicion that they treat us as the smart class geek at the back of the class doing their home work for them, the cool guys... the jocks, the studs that they think they are. And we loved it. Trying so hard to be accepted, to be invited to the party.... I do not need to add more to the situation. there is a whole lot of info at the links below.


Except there are a whole world for Nerds/geeks out there that want to bend over and be their whipping boys.

Here is my take of it. From the other side of the world, from the supposedly side that is taking work away from US.

A union isn't going to work. PERIOD. Not on a global scale. Someone posted on VFX Solitary Int.

"AGAIN...HOLD ON HERE! Let me jump in and ask one VERY SIMPLE question: What happens when another market in the world offers an even greater Tax Subsidy Incentive to the Studios that they can't afford not to Leave New Zealand? Then what happens to the New Zealand market?"
Here and here are the answers.

No Govt will come together for a agreement so that a bunch of (in their eyes) animators want fairer pay. That is like asking for World Peace.

I feel that it is a global issue. Artists from China, India, , South Korea, japan, South East Asia etc... are being subjected to same stress, job uncertainty as those in California because even here, there is even more crazy pressure to make things cheaper and faster. The race to the bottom will not help anyone except the studios and the money men....

And there are different viewpoints. Some rejoice that the jobs are coming to Asia. that finally they get a piece of the pie. but that is just stupid. Some over in Us are angry that the jobs are going to Asia.

But the problem is still, the people who wins are the money men.

The problem is compounded by unscrupulous individuals offering courses in vfx, animation etc.. flooding the market with utterly inadequate "artistes".

Ending with pissed off people spending so much money and govt on subsidies on animation courses supposedly to help get them non-existence jobs.


They view the subsidies and funding by the different governments world widde creating a unfair playing field as a problem.

How many companies here closed down despite of the govt funding and subsidies. How many of the local animators are working as permanent freelancers etc...

As you well know, we also have problems like this locally. Its a worldwide problem Animators in Batam are paid how much ? U compare them to local animators. for the quality vs the price which will you chose? And I am sorry to say this, the quality of work locally isn't near what is needed to compete with the big boys.

At the end of the day, its basic maths. There is too much supply, not enough demand.

my honest opinion is the the local big boys will move towards the cheaper countries when the quality vs wages level off and when the subsidy is over.

 If you want to be pissed off, be pissed off at the companies and schools that offer govt subsidised short courses and letting hundreds of ill equpped "artists" with unrealistic expectations of industry while making themselves rich. Those are the assholes you should be pissed off by.

Be the Jock? No.... Be the smart Geek that the Jock cannot live without. Not the jerk in the corner trying to get you hook on smack.

How ? I do not know. Yet. But I am sure as hell trying to find out.

April 3, 2013

The mentality of the Singaporean Animator / Student.

This have been something that I encountered in the years of teaching students and trainees of different nationalities over the years. And came across different  mentality. Being Singaporean, I obviously am interested in the mindset of our students in comparison to other countries.

My personal observations are that a lot of local students are conditioned to have a sense of entitlement.. Maybe that is too strong a word... Maybe more of a sense of naivety to them. We are not not most street smart people in the world with almost everything controlled by the government and expectations structually heaped upon us since young.

i.e If I study hard and score good marks, I will get a good job with great salary. (endavuor for reward. Classic Singaporean incentive system.

So the result is a gullibity that I still retain. (Although I prefer childlike innocence.)

So if, someone tells you that after taking a partially govt-funded short course, you will get to work at Lucasfilm! Or D Neg! Heck even Pixar if you are good enough....you EXPECT that upon completion, you will get a job. Of course the sombering reality hits you that there are not enough jobs to go around or that the skillsets that you learnt isn't good enough to get you a job. Or that the slow realisation that YOU are actually not good enough to get that job.

The funny thing is when there is a job offer as a runner or as a matchmover, the locals frown at that job. They considered too low pay and low class for a degree grad or a diploma grad.

I do not blame them for that mindset. After all, they struggled the long nights over months to finish their FYPs and of course.

What i foresee is a lot of locals leaving to go work overseas in China and India. If you want to be working on the big Dreamworks movies, and you can get better savings then working locally. Plus a step towards the big boys. Of course the problem is that the big boys are here. because they want to cut cost. duh....

Rather then coming across like a preaching session or with a I know better attitude, I am more curious to investigate how to change this mindset.

March 27, 2013

Show what your character is feeling.

Often students are so zoomed into the mechanics of the movement in animation. Like if the timing of weight shift correct. But they forget the most important part of the animation.

That the motion is reactive to the emotional state of the character. One key failure of students is that they do not consider this factor. And so the animation does not show the character's emotional.

So next time, before you start to animation remember.

1.) Key Poses should convey the emotional state of the character clearly.
2.) Know what your characters emotional state is before blocking.
3.) PLAN your keyposes for each shot before animation.
4.) Put yourself in the state of mind of the character. and see how he will react to the situation.
5.) Is the obstacle important to the animation or to show the character's character or advance the story? If not, drop it.

February 15, 2013

My opinion on writing for yourself or audience.

  Previously here I posted about Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing a short story. Recently I was having a discussion to students about the appeal of the story. And what decisions the story teller have in deciding what goes into the story.
Mr Vonnegut's number 7 is  Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

Recently I have been thinking about this. And I came to realised that i disagree with this statement because I feel that its rather self indulgent. Nothing wrong if that is what the author intends to do. But I feel that a story's objective is to share a message. And therefore if you can tell a story that pleases people and satisfy them that would be great. the problem is when people tell story to make a biz. or to preach.

 My comment:

'And I came to realised that i disagree with this statement because I feel that its rather self indulgent.'

rule number 7 does not mean that the author is writing for solely himself, it seems to imply that the author should focus on a certain demographic when writing a story. the audience is still taken into consideration, just that it has been narrowed. instead of trying to make a story that fits everyone's taste, focus on a certain group of people and you will write stories that are more concise and appealing (for the targeted audience). So...don't think it's self indulgent, since audience is still taken into consideration. 

January 1, 2013

On 'You Are Not So Smart' by David McRaney

  Originally the blog writer of psychology blog You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney decided to share his love of psychology with traditional book readers. I was intrigued by the rather cheeky blog title when I first came across McRaney’s blog under ‘Misc Links I Like’ of Hilscreate, yet I wasn’t convinced that mere words could strip me of ego to admit that I am lesser than I thought. 

  I was utterly wrong. Halfway through the first chapter of You Are Not So Smart, I was already persuaded that I knew very little about myself and my actions.  

  McRaney discusses different aspects psychology with relevance to the happenings of our daily lives, as stamped on the book cover: Why we have too many Facebook friends? Why memory is mostly fiction? He outlined events which we can all identify with, like this...... 

“Have you ever had a conversation in which some old movie was mentioned, something like “The Golden Child” or maybe even something more obscure?
You laughed about it, quoted lines from it, wondered what happened to the actors you never saw again, and then you forgot about it.
You are flipping channels one night and all of the sudden you see “The Golden Child” is playing. Weird.
The next day you are reading a news story, and out of nowhere it mentions forgotten movies from the 1980s, and holy shit, three paragraphs about “The Golden Child.”
You see a trailer that night at the theater for a new Eddie Murphy movie, and then you see a billboard on the street promoting Charlie Murphy doing stand-up in town, and then one of your friends sends you a link to a post at TMZ showing recent photos of the actress  from “The Golden Child.”
What is happening here? Is the universe trying to tell you something?”

......and provided the underlying psychological explanation:

“No. This is called the frequency illusion.
Since the party and the conversation where you and your friends took turns saying “I-ah-I-ah-I want the kniiiife” you’ve flipped channels plenty of times; you’ve walked past lots of billboards; you’ve seen dozens of stories about celebrities; you’ve been exposed to a handful of movie trailers.
The thing is, you disregarded all the other information, all the stuff  unrelated to “The Golden Child.” Out of all the chaos, all the morsels of data, you only noticed the bits which called back to something sitting on top of your brain.
A few weeks back, when Eddie Murphy and his Tibetan adventure were still submerged beneath a heap of pop-culture at the bottom of your skull, you wouldn’t have paid any special attention to references to it.
If you are thinking about buying a new car, you suddenly see people driving them all over the roads. If you just ended a long-time relationship, every song you hear seems to be written about love. If you are having a baby, you start to see them everywhere.
When the frequency illusion goes from a passive phenomenon to an active pursuit, that’s when you start to experience confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is seeing the world through a filter, thinking selectively. ”

[Full article here.]  

  McRaney backed his explanation with careful research and relevant statistics, strongly elaborating each topic with coherence and simplicity, mixed with a dash of witticism and mild sarcasm. Besides that, his use of day-to-day examples makes psychology a more approachable subject. I also particularly appreciate that one chapter deals with one topic at a time, making it easy to absorb and not be too concerned about losing track of the book's content.
  McRaney challenged and showed us how deluded about ourselves we actually are. Actions that we thought were made through a series of careful consideration could be nothing more than a simple psychological trick that happened somewhere in the murky depths of our unconsciousness. We aren’t such logical and rational creatures after all. 

*Some topics from the blog and book are overlapping, though certain subjects available on the blog wasn’t included in the book.