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Trends And Development Of Malaysian Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 4628 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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What is animation. Wyatt defines animation is the image that is manipulated in frame by frame, and when moved quickly will produce the illusion of movement. Nowadays, animations have many type forms such as animated films, television series, live-action films, advertisements, corporate videos, video games and others. These had shown that the animation is not only stop in traditional areas of television animation and advertising but a step forward into areas such as web design, educational courseware, interactive comics, architecture, 3-D holograms, virtual reality and mobile games. (Hassan, 2008).

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The animation growth in Malaysia is still unstable. The government plays an important role in the development of the animation industry. Malaysian animation industry had influenced by the United States and Japan animation because of the early development of animation. Its present growth is hindered due to many factors such as the lack of skills, local identities in animation and due to small domestic market.

The objective of this study is to investigate the influences of the United States and Japan animation industry on the development of Malaysian animation industry. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities in the Malaysian animation industry.

2. History of Animation

The development of animation start from very early age and originated from the cavemen’s cave painting (Stephenson, 1967). The cave painting shows a sequence of separate seems like a film strip. The cave drawings are originated during the Palaeolithic age (Stephenson, 1967:24). After that, physician John Ayrton invented the thaumatrope in Paris, 1825 (Jamalludin & Zaidatun, 2005:6). Thaumatrope was invented as an entertainment device which can make two still images become a persistence of vision by twirling the strings. Another device using the idea of persistence of vision invented by Joseph Plateau and Simon Stampfer in 1830 called the phenakistoscope, in the meaning of ‘deceptive view’ in Greek. The phenakistoscope is a toy which using a disc that contains a series of continuous images with in-between of each image with a metal rod placed in the middle (Jamalludin & Zaidatun, 2005:7-8). In 1834, William Horner in England had invented zoetrope which same principles as the phenakistoscope. Before name of zoetrope, it called the Daedalum (wheel of the devil). Zoetrope differences with the phenakistoscope is the series of images is placed with a metal drum. The metal drum rotate faster, the animation becomes clearer and smooth (Jamalludin & Zaidatun, 2005:9). The praxinoscope was introduced by Charles Emile Reynaud after 43 years zoetrope invented. He combined the principles of the zoetrope and phenakistoscope (Jamalludin & Zaidatun, 2005:9-10). The praxinoscope was the last of development of early animation techniques (Stephenson, 1967; Wells, 1998). Then, John Barnes Linnett, an inventor of flip book in 1968 who basically did not use or create any specific devices unlike others. The method of flip book is still being use at nowadays in the modern animation. Modern animation with the development of computer hardware and software, allowed animators spend less time on hand-drawing and increase the quality of the animation.

D:Visual CultureToyStory[3].jpgD:Visual Culturereboot_characters.jpg

Fig. 1 Reboot (1994) Fig. 2 Toy Story (1998)

Before the emergence of advancing computer technology, animation is being hand-drawn so called the technology of cel animation, but now it fully digitalize and produced into 3D animation. It helps reduce physical effort and increase the quality and speed of producing animation effectively. The details and visual effects become more fine and complex compare with the cel animation. 3D visual technology which was previously limited to 2-dimensional views of the x and y axis have seen, an additional of the z axis is representing the third and newest dimension. 3D digital content is including the use of computer graphic image (CGI) and it finally came out the very first CGI technology animation series Reboot (1994) and the first 3D animation, Toy Story (1998).

2. The United States and Japan Animation

Development of animation has inspring the two countries, the United States and Japan (Mohd Amir Mat Omar & Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, 2011). These countries’ animations grow mature and leading the way and inspiring the development of animation in other countries, including Malaysia, such as Walt Disney Animation Studio, Pixar, Studio Ghibli and Toei Animation. With the advancement and capabilities of computer technology, allowed other countries have the opportunities to grow slowly and become minor competitors. They cannot overturn the animation industries of United States and Japan although they have the capabilities, but the animations from countries have their own respective animation history according to their places origin.

2.1 A Comparison between American and Japanese Animation

The difference between American and Japanese animation can be described in simple way is the narrative and the visual. The narrative of American animation is more direct than the Japanese one which tells the story in a veiled way. Additionally, the narrative of American animation follows the formula of a happy ending to guarantee acceptance by the audience, however, Japanese animation tries out different story lines and narratives for different groups of audiences.

Secondly, on the one hand, American animation draws in clear lines, uses bright, vivid colours, full of fantasy, colourful and with funny characters and background designs. Sometimes the audience feels the lively rhythm when watching. On the other hand, Japanese animation is made in watercolour-like, freehand-like fashion with the pale colours that convey a sense of the hand-drawn traces.

Studying American and Japanese animation’s history and industry structure, and analysing their successful productions may help further develop other animation industries such as the Malaysian one. On the one hand, American animation has the safety of the narrative and the genre is suitable for children and families. This kind of narrative and genre is also safe for an animation industry which still finds itself in the beginning stage such as in Malaysia as it reduces the risks when making an animation production. In addition, since Malaysians have an English language advantage, it is much easier to get animation knowledge from American companies such as Disney and Pixar. Seefood The Movie that stars a couple of sharks is that it’s Malaysia’s first 3D animation movie in English and its style also similar like the production of Pixar, Finding Nemo (2003).

On the other hand, the uniqueness of Japanese animation provides many options to other animation industries in the world. Japanese animation has a wide range of genres which includes even the erotic and its target audience is not only children. That is part of the reason why nowadays Japanese animation has developed on the scale we know. This wide range of genres of Japanese animation has inspired Malaysian animation to find its own identity through the story content, narrative, editing and/or conceptual, but not necessarily visual, style.

2. History of Malaysian Animation

For Malaysia animation history, wayang kulit and traditional literary has a great influence to the Malaysian animation. The Malay word wayang means ‘shadow’. Shadow play is said to have its origins in Inida, China, Egypt, Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia), Turkey and Europe. Wayang kulit are said to one of the earliest animation in Malaysia because it is a traditional Malaysian theater staged operas, combined oral narrative and performing arts into a piece. Hassan Muthalib (2003) points to wayang kulit as the first known example of animation. While in performances, puppet operators are sitting behind the white screen, the screen is marked light; performers are performing through the puppets and mouth telling various stories from the folk literatures. Puppet shadow show on the screen, combined with the perfomer’s voice, much like the art of Chinese shadow play. In fact, appearance on the screen of wayang kulit that used by the animator is in the early 1926. German animator Lotte Reiniger used the form of wayang kulit, created her first feature film called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Many Malaysian animators have credited The Adventures of Prince Achmed’s recognizable style for generating their initial interest in animation.

Malaysian animation also influenced by traditional literary. It divided intro aristocracy sponsor and appreciation in writing literature, as well as ordinary people who eulogized oral folk tales. Development of both is at the same time. The written literatures are strongly containing feudalism, mainly palace life; oral folk tales, including the story that origin of animals, customs, heroes, and in some areas. Subsequently, these elements are using in Malaysia movies, shows, modern literature, such as animation, comic and more. The visual arts are widely used. Writing literature and folk literature have played a big role in Malaysia animation. For example, the animated film Hikayat Sang Kancil, a short film produced by Anandam Xavier in 1978 which adapted from the story of mouse deer. Mouse deer in Malaysia and Indonesia is very famous, it is the size of the feline, legs and tail like a deer, the body and head like mice and often teases other small animals. With the appearance of animated film Hikayat Sang Kancil, a few titles Sang Kancil & Monyet, Sang Kancil & Buaya, Gagak Yang Bijak, Arnab Yang Sombong and Singa Yang Haloba which ranged from 1984 to 1987 came out (Mohd Amir Mat Omar & Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, 2011).

Development of Malaysian Animation

Malaysia animation productions are still in the process of developing. Most of animations which have been aired in Malaysia are either from the United States or Japan because of the influences of early development of animation. However, the development of technology in computer hardware and software has allowed and offered the local developers a space to be creative and a helpful tool in developing the industry towards maturity and international standard. Thus, animation in Malaysia began in 1946 through the establishment of the Malayan Film Unit but now known as Filem Negara (Hassan, 2003). Animation was only limited to moving text and objects. Malaysia animation began to develop commercially around the 1990’s with the appearance of Usop Sontorian animated series in 1995 and Silat Lagenda animated film in 1998. Since the publication of the animated series Usop Sontorian in 1995, the animation sector growing with the appearance of many television series, films and telemovie related to animation. This is an exciting development among ASEAN countries, as Malaysia did not have a big and strong studio compared to Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia (Hassan, 2008). Malaysia has produced close to sixty animated television series and films.

However, the growth and development of animation have slowed down from 1987 to 1994 and from 1996 to 2007 (Mohd Amir Mat Omar & Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, 2011). The first gap of the development of Malaysia animation begin from 1987 after the end of Anandem Xavier’s, producer of Hikayat Sang Kancil, work to 1995 when Kamn Ismail of Kharisma Production produced the first animated series, Usop Sontorian(1995).The acceleration of animation is due to Malaysia government pushes for the use of digital technology in animation production (Hassan, 2003). In the meanwhile, animation also have appeared in other forms as text and advertisements but were simple at the time and only used minor for increase the attraction of films or advertisement.

The second gap is the lack of printed media on Malaysian animation. After Usop Sontorian broadcast out, a number of animation series have appeared, such as Keluang Man, Yokies, Anak-anak Sidet and more. Unfortunately, Malaysia encounter economic crisis that appeared in 1998 and why animation production has slowed down.

3.1 The Recent Animated Features

In Malaysia, there is a lot of talent in the field of animation and it is comparable to overseas. Thus, the animated film War of The Worlds: Goliath, it certainly opened the eyes of the world to Malaysia where able to produce an animated film quality and international standards. The development of local animation show remarkable improvement every day. Animated series such as Upin & Ipin, BoboiBoy and Seefood between local products should be proud of as full use of the expertise of Malaysian. However, Malaysian also identified no less pleased with the production of the animated film War of The Worlds: Goliath (WOTWG) that will find in theaters on November 2012. Production Tripod Group of Companies (Tripod) published WOTWG under layer in Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles, United State of America, an animated first local generated in 3 dimensions (3D) with combined stereoscopic 2D cell hybrid technology and computer generated imagery (CGI). This is the first project resulting Tripod with Kevin Eastman cooperation with the originator of the famous animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as publishing executive Chief Executive Employees and co-founder of Tripod, Leon Tan serves as a major publisher. The film gets a touch of the director, Joe Pearson who is not arbitrary because the individual has 30 years of experience in the field of animation Hollywood. The author was David Abramowitz previously been involved in the famous television series Highlander. Although the main stem is external energy certainly has expertise in animation production, more than 200 of the 300 workforce-oriented science-fiction films produced is Malaysian.

Interestingly about this movie, it has already won the Best Film Award at 3D Animation 3D Film Festival Los Angeles in September. WOTWG victory sweeter when beating other Hollywood movies that is equally as ParaNorman, Madagascar 3 and Tinker Bell. WOTWG comic adapted from HG Wells writing this 100-year-old also screened at the San Diego Comic Convention, July. The film received funding and support from Malaysia Venture Capital Management (Mavcap), Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the creative industry loan fund bank and CG visual effects of the National Film Development Corporation (Finas). Overall, WOTWG has put a new benchmark that local creative energy is already ready to explode 3D content creation globally.



The lack of training and skills

Lack of conventional training such as drawing, painting, layouts and story-boarding for animation production might have been the main reason for many small and poorly produced local animations especially during the starting years of this industry.

Malaysian film industry is due to small domestic market

One of the major challenges facing Malaysian film industry is due to small domestic market. While in the programs rating for television broadcast, film that achieve 2 million viewers are already considered a successful film. It is evident that most successful animation industries that achieve export potential are those with huge home-based markets like Japan, not to mention Disney and Pixar.

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The animation industry in Malaysia is a small industry in terms of the quantity of films produced annually as well as its contribution to the economy. The main challenge faced by the local industry as a result of globalization is mainly from the influx of foreign film products. As a commitment to embracing the open market and globalization, Malaysia does not protect the importation of foreign products. Foreign films are free to enter the local market under minimal requirements. First, it has to pass through the Malaysian Film Censorship Board, which is the government authority that is responsible for granting licenses to the film for public viewing, and second is to provide subtitles in the Malay language (Rosnan, 2012).

Other than the rules and regulations stipulated under the Film Censorship Act, films from any country are free to enter the Malaysian market. To a certain extent, the local film industry is affected by foreign products that undermine the local films in the local market. In Malaysia’s case, the indigenous film industry is striving to compete with foreign films in the local market. In this circumstance, it is obvious that it will be tougher for the industry to compete in the international arena. Furthermore, it is especially difficult for local films to compete with big-budgeted foreign films.

Lack of local identity

Malaysia animation industry also greatly influence by American and Japan animation, a initial evidence was the farming out of ink and paintwork in 1985 to Lensafilm, a commercial film studio (Hassan,2003). This scenario eventually brings Malaysia personnel to undergo training in Toei Animation, Japan and influenced physical aspect in certain ways of Malaysia Industry. Animation styles and techniques have been confined to the classical tradition but the emphasis by universities and colleges on research and development has led to the exploration of alternative methods. The early days of animation tended to copy, in particular, the Disney or MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio) styles of animation. One studio, Lensamation, did out-sourcing work for Toei and other Japanese studios, resulting in a whole generation of animators who indulged in the anime tradition. Many studios are still using the contemporary American style of animation as they find that it looks good and is easier to market. But character design and animation in the style of Johnny Bravo, Power Puff Girls and Sponge-Bob Squarepants appears to be standard for the digital generation and local producers are taking the cue. The PIXAR-style highly-stylised animation and design is also the trend for computer games and web-based content both for local industry and out-sourcing as clients and audiences seem to relate to the form.

Hassan (2004) described the relationship between student animation projects and identity of Malaysia various heritages and races. In his citation, currently Malaysia neither distinctive animation trend nor local identity (Hassan 2008). At the same time, Hassan also did not specifically mention cultural identification identify within Malaysia Animation. Hence, it would be a long ways effort to understand how culture is portrayed in Malaysia animation. It has been argued that competition in animation business is very stiff with developed and Western countries dominating global animation business.


Animation from the United States and Japan are taking over the television channels in Malaysia. In fact, these animations are come as cultural products which are different values for Malaysians. With the ‘Malaysia’ culture influence of Upin and Ipin, a proud and strong impression of the advancement of Malaysian animation may leave on Malaysians and change their though for the Malaysian animation. Mickey Mouse and Dragonball which Malaysians watching since young may find the emergence of Upin & Ipin, as local animation able to portray local environment, it provides proposal for character characteristic that define our motherland country. The effort started with Usop Sontorian , the first local tailor made movie for Malaysia market. The production of Kharisma Production under cartoonist Ujang and director Kamn Ismail have leading Malaysia market by Upin & Ipin and Boboi Boy.


As we said just now, the wide range of genres of Japanese animation has inspired Malaysian animation to find its own identity through the story content, narrative, editing and/or conceptual, but not necessarily visual, style.

Seefood The Movie is jointly produced by Silver Ant Sdn Bhd and the Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC), with a grant from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and also support from the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). Seefood The Movie is the Malaysia’s first 3D animation movie in English. Seefood has been compared with Finding Nemo (Fig. ) by Pixar because both of them have a similar story line, background setting, and graphic design. Although Seafood’s visual and style is not better than Finding Nemo, but the difference lies in the core concept. Finding Nemo focuses on the family, whereas Seefood focuses on the environment and humanity. Although Seefood has a happy ending, the difference in core concept shows the influence of Japanese animation on Malaysian animation while the story was being written. As mentioned, one of the major differences between American and Japanese animation is the story concept. American animation is always focusing on the family and the main target audience is children, however, the target audience of Japanese animation is both children and adults and their story concept could be any topic or social issue. However, good looking does not mean good overall. There is still room for improvement, especially as far as editing, music and storytelling are concerned.

Government Support

International producers are taking advantage of the emergence of the new international division of cultural labour by searching for cheaper production costs in foreign countries. As in the case of FDI(Foreign Direct Investment) in Malaysia, which has contributed to economic growth and provided externalities, the government foresees that similar benefits would accrue to the film industry by attracting foreign film producers. However, neighboring countries, including Thailand and Singapore, also have the same strategy. Malaysia should have a competitive advantage in competing with other countries for foreign film projects. This is not easy, as the government has to formulate policies and provide an incentive structure that is attractive to foreign producers.

In Malaysia, it is estimated that 200 companies are under a program called Creative Content Centre set up by the government including those involved in the field of animation (Mohd Amir Mat Omar & Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, 2011). Another support program called the MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) Malaysian Animation. All of these companies are in need of help and support, especially from the government because animation in Malaysia still not strong as in the United States and Japan, they may not stand on their owns without direct aid from the government. So, the establishment of Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec), which aims to advance the field of information technology and multimedia including creative multimedia is very significant. A total of RM750 million fund has been allocated for this purpose and is made available to developers of video games, visual effects and animation (Mohd Amir Mat Omar & Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, 2011).

D:Visual CultureWD_geng_Meluncur.jpg

Fig. 4 Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula (2009)

Success of Upin & Ipin animation is the best example can be seen revenue initiatives and support provided by the MSC and MDeC. This animation has become a huge phenomenon not only in Malaysia, but outside countries such as Indonesia, Turkey, Brunei, and Thailand. Similarly, the diversity in Malaysia film industry. Animation films are seen as global products and easily directed towards enticing global audiences. After so long upon the presence of a film that is capable to displaying the trule Malaysia, it finally came out. Watching Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula(2009), Les Copaque Production took Malaysians to a great exploration of nature and amazing. By simply based on the popularity of the television series Upin & Ipin that aired on television, this animated film turned out to be able to bring people from all ages and races together to watch it in a theater. Movie Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula(2009) has grossed RM6.3 million revenue run in cinema (Maimunah, 2009) and this has brought a new phenomenon in local animation industry. In addition, collaboration between Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) in publication of 26 series episode at Saladin television (Al Bawaba, 2007). With the achievement made by a local production house, Les’ Copaque Production Sdn Bhd, the government is optimistic that locally, Malaysians have the capability to benefit from the animation sector. Nevertheless, to compete in the animation sector would mean that the industry is competing with big-budgeted giant global players like Pixar and Disney. This is a challenge for a relatively small industry. Thus, government support is deemed necessary, as the local producers are definitely not in the same league as other global film players.


In the case of the Malaysian animation industry, it is acknowledged that the local market is small and that the market size of a nation dictates the budget for animation production. Hence, to compete with big-budgeted foreign animations is not a feasible option. Rather, the industry should venture and compete in an area where it has a competitive advantage. One area that local people have shown their capability is the animation sector. Les’ Copaque Production was the first private production house that produced 3-D animation and was very successful in the local market. Their products have subsequently been marketed internationally. In 2009, their animation series is now available on ASTRO’s Disney Channel. This proves that local people are actually capable of developing their own film products. In another area of animation, Malaysia has skilled people that are capable of taking up outsourcing jobs. With the relatively cheap cost of labour, Malaysia should attract global animation clusters such as Disney or Pixar to outsource their production of animation work. Local public and private universities are offering more animation and multimedia related courses for students. Every year, quite a number of students graduate from animation related courses. Taking advantage of the emergence of the new international division of cultural labour will provide employment opportunities, especially for new graduates.

The government plays an important role in nurturing and promoting the development of the indigenous film industry through its policy and regulatory framework. The government, through FINAS, has taken the necessary action to promote the development of the indigenous film industry. Nevertheless, much needs to be done to ensure that the government’s funds are properly channeled and used in the most efficient way. In most animation, culture is reflected through different areas. Some are reflected by the physical appearance of character and even the language they speak. As yet, distinctive animation trend is seen in Malaysia that can be considered unique or having a local identity. However, it is a global trend in which if better understood, the more benefits we can get from animation. Animation can become a powerful business tool with its impact but importantly as well is the fact than the culture and identity of a nation can be shared through the animation.


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