Finishing school for visual effects artists


PUTRAJAYA: Visual effects company Rhythm and Hues and the MSC Malaysia Animation Creative Content Centre (MAC3) are working together on a finishing school programme with the aim of sharpening the skills of local content developers.

Called the Animation and Visual Effects Finishing School, the programme is meant to compliment what these visual effects artists have learned in classrooms and will bridge any competency gaps to better prepare them for the industry.

Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, senior manager at Rhythm and Hues Malaysia regards the programme as a way of giving back to the country which allowed the California-based visual effects (VFX) studio to operate here. Its talents here have worked on Hollywood blockbusters, including X-Men: First Class, Hop and, Alvin and The Chipmunks.

“We know that there are a lot more talents out there who can help the local content development industry flourish,” he said on the sidelines of a discussion at the National Creative Industry Lab here.

Hasnul said MAC3 will provide the financial support for the programme while Rhythm and Hues supplies the knowledge.

However, Hasnul declined to disclose the amount invested to run the programme.

The 12-week finishing school programme is open to visual effects graduates or those seeking internship at production houses, as well as freelance visual effects artists.

It will cover subjects such as understanding VFX, the building blocks of 2D VFX and much more.

Although it is free of charge, Hasnul said seats at the finishing school are limited and participants will have to go through an interview before being accepted.

He added that participants are expected to complete the programme — a penalty will be imposed if they drop out. MAC3 and Rhythm and Hues are still discussing what the penalty will be.

Hasnul said this measure was added in order to determine those who are really passionate about the art and those who are not.

“It would be a shame if a participant drops out half way. His or her place could have been given to someone else who was more passionate,” he said.

Hasnul also hopes that through this programme, aspiring visual effects artists will know that there is a market for their skills locally.

“They don’t have to go overseas to advance their craft and I think they would prefer to remain close to their families and friends,” he said.

Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) vice-president of creative industry strategy and policy Kamil Othman said graduates of the finishing school will find a market for their newly polished skills.

“The Government is serious about growing the talent pool in the VFX space. There is even the Visual Effects-CGI Fund which was announced last year to encourage more Malaysian involvement in the creative content industry,” he said.

Kamil said the local content industry continues to flourish. “We have yet to come up with the numbers but judging from the elevated confidence our local companies have, I think we are doing very well.

“Six years ago, they were quite hesitant to market their products overseas but I think they have learnt and are now more encouraged to do so,” he said.

According to a report on the Economic Transformation Programme, the Malaysian creative industry was worth RM9.4bil in 2008, and contributed about 1.27% to the national gross domestic product (GDP). This is expected to increase to RM20bil by 2013.

MDeC is custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative which is to develop the country’s knowledge-based economy.

MDeC launched MAC3 in 2010 to help local content developers by providing them with the technology and resources they need.

For more information on the Animation and Visual Effects Finishing School, visit its Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/zUuCyF.

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