Indonesian Animators Creating Their Own World


Indonesian Animators Creating Their Own World

[Jakarta Globe]
The world of animation has progressed dramatically since the days of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” While last year’s wonderfully nostalgic “The Princess and the Frog” brought back the era of hand-drawn cartoons, the last decade has been dominated by 3D animation.

Beginning with “Shrek” and “Toy Story” — both of which grew into lucrative franchises — 3D animation has grown rapidly in technique and details. Compared to more recent movies such as “Avatar” “Up” and “Wall-E,” the graphics of the first generation pale in comparison. But considering how first-rate the trailblazers were when they hit the screen, that’s saying a lot.
But it’s not just in the United States and other more-modern countries that animation is gaining ground. Indonesia’s talented computer artists are eager to show the rest of the world that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

While the country has yet to produce anything of Pixar’s caliber, there have been some proud achievements. Last year, the Batam-based animation studio Mediacorp Raintree Pictures produced the country’s first 3D feature, “Meraih Mimpi” (“Sing to the Dawn”). The film was a box-office success and critics say the it announced the country’s arrival in the animated movie-making universe.

“Animation in Indonesia has gotten better and progressed significantly,” says Hiza Ro, who represents Blender Community, one of the nation’s leading animation societies. “This era of technology has made the software and hardware [needed to create animation sequences] easy to obtain.”

Hiza points to the increasing number of animation production houses popping up in Indonesia, including big names like Kasatmata (Invisible) Studio in Yogyjakarta and Castle Studio in Jakarta.

“With the progress local animation studios are making, we’re certainly at a place where calling yourself an ‘animator’ can be a proud declaration,” Hiza says. “With the number of newly formed production houses specializing in [animation for] television advertisements, as well as opportunities creating short films and designing computer games, a person can live as an animator in this country.”

Aldy Waani is a motion graphic designer who has directed and produced numerous features, including a trailer for the video game “Gladiator” for Microsoft’s Xbox. He’s worked for post-production companies including Luminaire Digital Post and Lumine 3D House. He’s also a member of the Blender collective.

According to Aldy, the local animation industry is off to a promising start.
“Tons of local animators were recruited to work for Lucasfilm Animation Singapore,” he says. “You should also know that the well-known game ‘Need for Speed Underground’ involved a lot of Indonesian animators.” Hiza agrees, and says that rapid growth is one of the reasons the members of Blender got together.

The collective was officially formed in August, but has grown swiftly in both members and activity. It was formed by animators from various communities around the country who realized that they would hold a stronger influence as a group of artists. Blender’s Web site, has become a hub for the country’s animation artists as well. The site is a place for animators to share and display their work and offers discussion boards that give members a forum to discuss anything related to animation.

Hiza says that Blender’s primary purpose is to encourage artists with limited means to create something original with what they have. He describes the group as “a large collective of fans, workers and studios trying to develop this ecosystem surrounding open-sourced animation software.” Blender shies away from using illegal software, which is an encouraging stance of integrity in a country famous for its lack of artistic ethics. For animators on a budget, the group promotes the use of open-source programs developed by senior designers in the industry and available for free on the Internet.

Hiza says that the seeds of Blender were planted when a few of the group’s founding members bumped into one another at the Global Conference on Open-Source Software in South Jakarta last October. “Our goal is to create an atmosphere of quality and creativity that is legally sound,” he says. “We want to help drive the economy and create healthy working opportunities for the younger generation.”
But Aldy says staying true to the law isn’t easy and that honesty comes at a price.

“The software needed for fresh video effects are not cheap,” he says. “But it all goes back to creativity, especially in using limited resources. Creativity knows no boundaries.”
Hiza says that although the vast library of local animation created by Blender is definitely influenced by their American and Japanese colleagues, Indonesian animators are slowly taking on their own form and creating truly unique works.

“Generally, the diversity of Indonesian culture has provided a great influence toward the development of local animation,” Hiza explains. “We’re somewhat still trying to figure out our own voice, so to speak, but slowly and surely you see the variety of our colors, style, design and story line.”

According to Aldy it is a positive sign that a lot of Indonesian animation borrows from local content, including “Si Kabayan,” an animated series shown regularly on Global TV.
“It gives our animation a distinct feel compared to international animation,” Aldy says.
With all these encouraging developments, Aldy says he knows what expect from the artists in Blender and other burgeoning animators in Indonesia.

“We are going to give a variety in style and substance — things different than what non-Indonesian animators have to offer — a promising alternative for animation junkies here and across the board.”


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