Aswara Faculty of Animation and Multimedia students in class.

The impact of networking and interactivity in the digital world has significant implications on the arts.

It opens up possibilities for dissemination and public engagement through artwork.

There are art forms that exist because of technology (digital arts practices and film, video in the media arts) and art forms that are enhanced by technology (new distribution means for music, e-books, live performing arts).

To date, new digital technologies have had their deepest impact on production and dissemination practices in disciplines and practices outside the performing arts.

The digital transition allows artists to replace physical objects with electronic files and displace distribution over time and between places with instantaneous distribution over networks.


Students trying out a virtual reality simulation of 3D animation.

Despite fears about the prospects for the live experience, many are excited about the future.

People are eager for more interactive art experiences, rather than passively reading and viewing.

In Malaysia, public and private universities are very competitive in producing more graduates with well-rounded skills to meet demand in the job market.

The National Academy of Arts Culture and Heritage (Aswara) has taken the initiative to produce quality animation and multimedia graduates who specialise in animation and games art by applying the value of heritage art and modern technology.

Its Faculty of Animation and Multimedia offers three programmes (Bachelor of Digital Games Art, Bachelor of Animation and Diploma in Animation) carefully designed through collaboration with industry experts and associations, and researchers.


Aswara rector Mohd Rizon Juhari.

Aswara rector Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Rizon Juhari said in today’s world, the arts cannot be ignored as an integral part of human capital development or regarded as second class.

“We are now regarded as a ‘brand’ in creative arts education in the country. Our arts heritage should be preserved for the current and future generations to appreciate the nation’s identity,” added Mohd Rizon.

The faculty answers the Ministry of Higher Education’s call to embrace Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) education, primarily in digital art, animation and video games development.

Mohd Rizon said practical learning improves skills, professionalism and maturity. The faculty’s interdisciplinary learning experience in creative media, technology, arts and culture help to produce meaningful artworks at professional-grade computer labs.

The facilities at Aswara are supported by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) which manages the Multimedia and Animation Development Fund.


A montage of the artworks of Aswara students.

“This fund is channelled to make Aswara an animation hub to provide training to youths at highly competitive fees. The collaboration between Aswara and MCMC is aimed at alleviating the burden of Malaysians to learn digital art which is often regarded as expensive as high-end computers, special software and tools are needed,” he added.

To reinforce TVET-based learning, higher education institutions are actively involved in industry projects.

“The faculty has received funds from Asean to produce a story-telling of Malacca set in 1511 through simulation in a virtual reality platform.

“The project will involve a partnership among industry experts, researchers, historians and Aswara students. It also helps to promote problem-based learning and gauge students’ thinking skills.”

Aswara prioritises practical-based education as stipulated in the TVET teaching and learning guidelines.

“We give students space and time to master their fields while being monitored by industry players. We believe this is our formula for success to produce marketable graduates.

“Their involvement in international projects gives them exposure to world-class companies.

“Producing quality human capital will also strengthen the nation’s reputation.”


Jazmi Jamal.

Faculty of Animation and Multimedia dean Jazmi Jamal said the Digital Games Art programme is monitored by an art director from Electronic Arts, a leading publisher of games on console, personal computer and mobile devices, based in the United States.

“Project work provides practical experience and with industry involvement in the learning process, graduates can be employed as a games artist, modeller, designer, developer, producer and technical artist,” said Jazmi.

Aswara has carved a name for itself since its inception in 1994 and enjoys the status of an institution of higher education.

It offers 17 programmes under eight faculties: Creative Writing; Theatre; Music; Dance; Film and Television; Animation and Multimedia; Visual Communication Design; and Management of Arts and Culture. It also offers postgraduate studies including the Masters in Creative Arts course.

It plans to open branch campuses all over the country to attract more students to pursue its courses to popularise local arts among the people, especially the younger generation, in a more effective way.

STOP-MOTION ANIMATION

Nur Amalia Aidi, 24, loved to watch animated series during her childhood and dreamed of creating the cartoon characters.

“I enrolled in Aswara’s Animation degree programme which enlists expertise from the industry to give lectures and guide students,” said Nur Amalia. Her interest is stop-motion animation, which captures one frame at a time.


Nur Amalia Aidi.

“When you play back the sequence of images rapidly, it creates the illusion of movement. Stop-motion uses physical objects instead of drawings.

“It is a complicated workflow but I don’t mind the challenge.

“Stop-motion is lesser known to the public but hopefully it will grow into something bigger in the future,” added Nur Amalia, who plans to intern at Taiwan Animation Studios.

EXPLORING POSSIBILITIES

Muhammad Nor Arief Mohd Sanip is drawn to animation because it “makes people happy”.

The second-year animation student said: “At Aswara, students learn basic skills as well as how to be a professional.


Muhammad Nor Arief Mohd Sanip.

“We can incorporate Malaysia’s rich culture into animation. There is a bright future in the job market but I want to intern at local outfits such as Animonsta for now.

“I would love to work with Pixar or Warner Bros., given the chance.”

CREATING APPS

Ahmad Fadhuli Yusuff Rozaki’s childhood dream was to create his own game app.

The Digital Game Art degree student, 24, said that though the game art industry is relatively new in the country, avid gamers create a high demand for artists.


Ahmad Fadhuli Yusuff Rozaki.

“With modules such as Game Studies, Technical Art, 3D Computer Animation, Moving Images and Sound, 3D Modelling, Game Project Development and Game Quality Assessment, I can create more game apps,” he said.

He hopes to intern at game developer companies such as Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, Codemasters, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts.

“In five years, I see myself at one of these game developer companies, creating a new game genre as a technical art artist.

“My dream is to develop a game based on Malay folklore and make it popular worldwide.”

MIX OF ART AND TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE

Second-year animation student Anis Arisya Shariffpudin said: “Lessons at Aswara give us the tools to jump-start our careers and become successful in the field of animation.”


Anis Arisya Shariffpudin.

Aswara students learn a good mix of technical knowledge and art.

“The course is expanding, and so is the industry. Every term, there are new things to learn, and it gets more and more challenging. The lessons will prepare students for the workplace.”

Anis Arisya is looking forward to the opening of 20th Century Fox World, a movie-inspired theme park under construction in Genting Highlands.

“It will be great to be part of the team,” added Anis Arisya, who is majoring in practical drawing animation.

FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE

Siti Noorhaireza Redzuwan, 21, gets a glimpse of work in the gaming industry while at Aswara.


Siti Noorhaireza Redzuwan.

“Aswara works with industry players on projects which give students exposure,” said Siti Noorhaireza, who enrolled in the Digital Game Arts degree course.

“This programme encourages students to be technically competent, creative and think out of the box. The modules include industrial attachments and fun group projects.”

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