Ejen Ali, The Highest-grossing Malaysian Animated Film Surpasses RM30mil Mark
Malaysian Animated Films
Ejen Ali，Malaysia's beloved 12-year-old super spy is well known by its TV animation series and its first animated feature film broke Malaysian’s box office records and ranked the highest-grossing local animated film ever in Malaysia.
Ejen Ali: The Movie beats stiff competition from the popular animated film Frozen 2, to set a new opening weekend box office record, which marked a landmark achievement for the Malaysian animated film industry.
Fox Renderfarm, your TPN-Accredited cloud render farm, was pleased to have an interview with Usamah Zaid Yasin, the co-founder and CEO of WAU Animation. Usamah is also the scriptwriter and Director of Ejen Ali Series and The Movie sharing his story with the production of this popular animated film.
In 2013, Usamah Zaid founded WAU Animation, the Malaysian CG animation studio focuses on producing and developing original animated programs, such as Ejen Ali, which debuted in 2016 and has been broadcast in over 50 countries.
Prior to starting WAU Animation, Usamah Zaid was also a founding member of Les’ Copaque Productions in 2005. The company behind the successful Upin & Ipin series and the movies.
For Usamah Zaid, animation is a labor of love. “It is not going to get you rich or famous, so what keeps you going is your passion for creating characters and showing your artwork to the world, then seeing the reaction of your audience,” he said.
Here’s the interview between Usamah Zaid Yasin and Fox Renderfarm. Let’s have a look at the stories behind the local animated film with such a huge success.
Or you can watch the following video about the interview,
Fox Renderfarm: Hi, would you please give a brief introduction about yourself?
Usamah Zaid: I’ll introduce my name - Usamah Zaid, a co-founder of the studio with another of my other friends, WAU Animation was founded in 2013. We set up the studio as a CG animation 3D house. Our dream is, of course, to create content IP, to tell our own stories.
Fox Renderfarm: Which part of Ejen Ali: The Movie do you like the most, visually and storytelling respectively?
Usamah Zaid: The one scene that I felt most for; while watching, and trying to be in the seat of the audience, I would say Scene 27! It was amazing because the team really exceeded my expectations. In delivering that scene, when I wrote it, I didn’t imagine it would be that good. And I think it’s a risky thing, sometimes in storytelling and in directing, we try to turn to something that is not common then. In terms of editing, in terms of the visual cue, a lot of things felt risky. We didn’t know whether these things would work, but I think it paid off. When I wrote it, I knew it would take some convincing to be able to deliver the scene, and the team did it very well. Once they felt what the direction was going to be, the things that they came up with were really impressive. And I think it worked well, judging from the feedback we got from the audience. I think we manage to deliver that scene successfully.
Scene 27 in Ejen Ali: The Movie
Source: Wau Animation
Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when making the film? And how did you solve it?
Usamah Zaid: There are so many things that were problematic, so many challenges. Like duration, I think in any production, duration is a huge factor. And in our case, the duration of the movie, so we needed to keep it to that duration that we committed to. One (reason) is that I wanted to make sure it’s not too long so that children aren’t restless in the cinema, I wanted to make sure it’s not too long so we can get a good amount of repeat in one day at the cinema. Because if it’s too long, then you might have less screening. We also needed to make sure we don't exceed too much, because every single minute added to the duration would mean having more time to the production and money. One year and eight months, while it sounds like a lot, relatively if you compare with a global production, a 3D computer animation pipeline or even hand-drawn animation pipeline, one year and six months is actually very tight. We literally had to work our butt off in order to make sure we were able to complete the movie.
Source: Wau Animation
As an indie-studio, while we do secure investments and grants, cash-flow is always something that we struggled with. So we had to make sure we do enough servicing stuff to ensure that we get enough money and infrastructure - hardware and software. I think 70% of our time was to plan our spending, throughout the first 3 quarters of the production, we were actually struggling with the lack of hardware capacity, (which) means that we needed better machines. But we didn’t have the money to spend for it. Towards the end of the last 3, 4 months, when we were really able to move at our best capacity.
Ejen Ali was estimated to cost around MYR5.6 Million when we budgeted the movie back in 2017, to date the actual movie cost a whopping of MYR7.4 Million, where WAU had to bare 62% of the total cost on our own through grant and personal investment, whereby our partner only had to spend 38% of the total cost. So can you imagine the financial turmoil that we were continuously facing…
I think creatively in terms of story development, character development, there were a lot of things that we wanted to do. It was a lot of learning process as well. Because this is literally WAU’s first feature-length film, we thought we knew enough before going in. But while we were in the production, there were lots of things that we needed to figure out. It took a long time to develop the story and the characters. Believe it or not, the script was only finalized about 3 months before the production ends. But we started the production much earlier. While we were in production, we were still figuring out the story, and making tweaks and fixes. So you can imagine the amount of stuff that did not make it, in the final film. Those were some of the things that we have to deal with. There was a lot of learning. It's an opportunity, if you approach it with that mindset - you don't want the opportunity to pass. So whatever it takes, we have to figure it out.
Source: Wau Animation
Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of the distribution of international films like Ne Zha in the western world? Is there any inspiration for you to think of distributing Ejen Ali in the western world?
Usamah Zaid: I think it’s great. It’s amazing to see movies from our side of the world being able to make such a breakthrough. Because in Hollywood, the western film industry, they are looking for fresh ideas. Sometimes they even tap in our side of the content, and sometimes not doing it properly, like changing the elements, offending the people along the way. It’s an amazing breakthrough. It has always been a part of the dream, not just for the company, also for the local animation industry to be able to make that kind of breakthrough.
In terms of distribution, because we work with Prime Works, and they are handling our distribution, they are in talks with so many other countries to push the movie. I think I can’t announce yet. The series is in over 50 countries, hopefully, we can get half the amount of countries to screen the movie. It would be amazing.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you give a brief introduction to your new project or the next step of Ejen Ali?
Usamah Zaid: The demand is there. I mean in our initial plan when we first approached our broadcast partner, working on the partnership, there has always been a continuous plan - Ejen Ali is meant to go for another 2 or 3 seasons, and at least another movie. But with such amazing feedback, I think we have to look into speeding up stuff. A movie is a big event, I don’t think we can wait more than 3 or 4 years before making another movie. In the immediate future, we have to look into making another season and another movie. And as the studio of WAU, Ejen Ali is not the only project/ IP content that we want to create. We have a few, and definitely one in particular that I am very excited about to announce soon!
Ejen Ali Season 1&2
Fox Renderfarm: Do you have any plans to collaborate with China?
Usamah Zaid: We've actually spoken to a couple of studios, toy-makers from China. And they have shown really strong interest. But I think due to the business of movie production, we sort of took a step back from the conversation. China is undoubtedly a huge market. I think it would be able to get into China and tap into the resources that we can have access to. Definitely, if you ask me if I want to work with China.
Fox Renderfarm: Malaysia’s animation reaches a new height this year, in your opinion, what contributes to the success? And what do you think of the future development of Malaysia’s animation?
Usamah Zaid: Having known the three studios, and their animation films that dominated the film industry this year, I think it’s the mindset. Since the beginning, when I was in Les’ Copaque Production as well. It was the mindset that drives the desire to deliver the product, regardless of what you can get your hands on. I think a lot of studios probably have a long term plan, but of course, the challenges of not having enough people, not having enough money, and just to get a spark of opportunity is not easy. With us, the mindset of seizing the opportunities has always been there. We don’t wait until everything is in place.
If we are just talking (about) this year, 3 movies are the highlights. Over the last 10 years, the growth of the industry has been immense, you have to give credits to how the government has put focus into it, especially MDEC. And all the companies, agencies and service providers that came into; in a way, that complete an ecosystem. And the IHL (Institute of Higher Learning) providing and creating more programs, making more talents available. As a nation, once we set our eyes on the animation industry, I think a lot of things came together. And as an industry, the growth has been amazing.
I literally grew up through this time when animation was not seen as something that’s possible, something that’s credible. My father was worried when I wanted to go into animation. But now I think it has been proven, just a couple of weeks ago. I have a 7-year-old child who loves painting. He does amazing illustration. He came to the studio with his grandmother, he wanted to learn about animation. It’s the kind of story you hear outside of Malaysia, kids wanting to go into the animation industry, and parents finally supporting the idea - “oh, my kid wants to do animation” and I think that’s amazing.
Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering service?
Usamah Zaid: When starting the series, we actually tried to set up our own internal facility, like a small render farm. But I felt the impact wasn’t that huge. Because to make a difference, we actually need a lot more nodes in order to be able to really boost the production. We were moving at an OK pace as long as we were able to catch up with the production timeline. But in production, that almost never happened. Something would always go wrong, and you probably had to push back the time. We thought that and tried to scale up already, even to maintain the facility, (but) the licenses, it was a lot of investment. That was when we discovered Robust (Fox Renderfarm’s agent in Malaysia). When we first tried it out, the speed was just amazing. We started working with Robust during our second season, I think; halfway to the second season. And since then, we knew for certain, we want to be working with Robust for the movie. So far, no complaint, it has been amazing! The system that we get has been prompt. I think it was a good move and it was a very good decision for us to work with Robust. And I can’t imagine delivering the movie without working with Robust.
Source: Wau Animation
Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts？
Usamah Zaid: Aside from the general audience feedback, we’ve received some good feedback from the fellow industry peers as well. Getting such feedback from your peers really makes us feel very validated, because it’s not easy for people from other studios to give compliments to another, especially industry players usually have much higher expectations and much higher taste in the works. Because other people, the normal audience, are not as picky in terms of the technical output. They would feel that it looks good, and they suddenly see that we are as good as Pixar, but we know that we have a long way to go. But to be validated, by CG enthusiasts I think, it’s been amazing. We still could use more viewers. (So I hope anyone who haven’t seen the movie, it’s currently available on Astro First) And people say that this movie is historical in the sense of Malaysian animation development. So, I hope anyone who haven’t seen it, please go and see it.
Ejen Ali, One of Malaysia’s Top 3 Animated Films will See You in the Cinema Soon
Fox Renderfarm Projects
Malaysian Animated Films
Ejen Ali: The Movie is an upcoming Malaysian computer-animated spy-fi action film, which is the first film made by WAU Animation, based on their TV animation series, Ejen Ali. After two seasons on the small screen, popular animated science-fiction series Ejen Ali will finally make its cinematic debut on Nov 28 in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Ejen Ali: The Movie, BoBoiBoy Movie 2 and Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal, together are Malaysia’s Top 3 animated films, they all have chosen Fox Renderfarm, the TPN-accredited cloud render farm, as their exclusive cloud rendering partner! Fox Renderfarm is always dedicated to promoting the development of high-quality animated films.
The 90-minute film, Ejen Ali: The Movie, tells a story about a brave, 12-year-old schoolboy who becomes an unwitting secret agent for futuristic spy agency MATA. After being accidentally recruited as a spy, Ejen Ali has now grown to embrace his role in secret agency Meta Advance Tactical Agency (MATA) to protect the futuristic city of Cyberaya from outside threats.
The animated film took two years to complete, and cost co-producers WAU Animation and Primeworks Studios RM6.5 million. Both companies expect ticket collections for Ejen Ali The Movie to reach RM20 million.
Usamah Zaid Yasin, WAU Animation's chief executive officer, said that there will be lots of spell-binding special effects and action-packed scenes for whole families to enjoy.
“We certainly try to include lots of Malaysian elements and a local feel to organically include in the movie. It’s very Malaysian and this is something we’re proud of,” according to Usamah.
The Ejen Ali television series has two successful seasons under its belt and has become a popular brand. At the 28th Malaysian Film Festival in 2016, it won for Best Short Animated Film.
In 2017, it won the Best 3D Animation Programme at the Asian Television Awards and it was also recognized as Best 3D Animation Programme or Series at last year’s Asian Academy Creative Awards.
Wish the super-popular toon hero Ejen Ali to make a new height with the upcoming feature film and admired by the worldwide audiences.
Interview with BoBoiBoy Movie 2, the Highest-grossing Animated Film in Malaysia
3-6 September 2019, Fox Renderfarm participated in Kre8tif! 2019, an annual digital creative content industry event in Malaysia aimed to spark innovation and exploration of major trends across the creative sector. We received a large number of CG enthusiasts and had good communications with them regarding our powerful cloud rendering service.
In Kre8tif! 2019, we were honored to have an interview with Mr. Kee Yong Pin, COO of Animonsta Studios in Malaysia.
Kee Yong Pin
COO of Animonsta Studios
Animated series BoBoiBoy (2011-2016)
BoBoiBoy Galaxy (2016-present)
BoBoiBoy: The Movie (2016)
BoBoiBoy Movie 2 (2019)
Animonsta Studios, a Malaysian animation company that produces creative content for the Malaysian and international market. Its second computer-animated film BoBoiBoy Movie 2, which is the new No.1 animated feature in Malaysia.
Below is Fox Renderfarm’s exclusive interview with Mr. Kee Yong Pin. Let’s check it out!
Fox Renderfarm: Can you introduce yourself?
Kee Yong Pin: My name is Kee Yong Pin, from Animonsta Studios, an animation studio from Malaysia.
Fox Renderfarm: Can you introduce BoBoiBoy?
Kee Yong Pin: BoBoiBoy is an animation created by Animonsta Studios since back in 2011. And our latest movie for BoBoiBoy, it’s just completed and released in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam at the same time. So, we are happy to tell that our BoBoiBoy Movie 2 is currently the highest-grossing box office animation ever shown in Malaysia of all time.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the interesting part when producing BoBoiBoy Movie 2?
Kee Yong Pin: One of the biggest, interesting things about this movie is actually the production, the whole production only takes 12 months. Most of the animated movies need to take 3 to 4 years. And then our team is actually not very big. We have only around 100 people with around 60-70 people from production.
Fox Renderfarm: Any challenges of making the movie?
Kee Yong Pin: The challenge is the time itself, so, as much as we worked very hard, there is still a lot of obstacles, for example, all the technical stuff, the rendering processes or the animation processes. So, the biggest challenge for us is actually the race against time for the rendering. For rendering it needs to be done by the computer. We need to do a very proper calculation, so that we can speed up the process without sacrificing the quality.
Fox Renderfarm: What do you think of Fox Renderfarm cloud rendering service?
Kee Yong Pin: In order to meet our timeline, one biggest thing that we changed is actually going into half GPU, which is using Redshift. And then we find out that even that is not enough. Throughout the movie, we can deliver according to timeline. But towards the end of the movie, that's when things become difficult, because the deadline is getting closer and then the scenes are getting very heavy towards the final part of the movie. So that's when we start to engage with Fox Renderfarm. And then we are really impressed actually, especially on the support portion of Fox Renderfarm. Because it's so easy for us to get in touch with, you know, just using WhatsApp. So everything just is direct communication, whenever we need anything and then everything is actually quite fast and, more importantly, when it comes to the last minute, it is hard for us to get the finance portion, budgeting portion to meet according to our criteria, and timeline also needs to be meeting. So, Fox Renderfarm, luckily for us, managed to meet our criteria in terms of pricing, in terms of delivery.
Fox Renderfarm: Will you distribute the movie in China?
Kee Yong Pin: We are actually trying, because China has a very small quota for foreign movies, but we are actually trying our best to get into China’s market. Good thing for us is that our animation series is already broadcasted on China's platform, which is Tencent. And it gets quite a good amount of views, which is more than 40 million views already up to date. We want to continue our footsteps into China's market if possible.
Fox Renderfarm: Any plans for next step?
Kee Yong Pin: We are doing our next animation, moving forward. And unfortunately, we cannot share anything in detail yet, but definitely I would safely, at least say that project has more challenges than BoBoiBoy Movie 2. So we want to get more market after this release in more countries and all those things, and so definitely, we need more support in terms of technology and also various partnership in the near future.
Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?
Kee Yong Pin: We just want to share that animation industry in Malaysia has been more than fifteen, twenty years. We might not be the most famous animation content hub in the world yet. But definitely Malaysia is going to be one of the best, not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality, one of the best animation providers in the world. So, we really hope that the world will be able to really pick up our animation, have a look on what we can achieve in a more practical way, high quality, efficient, because we have a lot of good talents in Malaysia.
Let's look forward to the new development of Malaysian animated films.
Malaysian Flick ‘Ribbit’ to Premiere at Niagara Fest
Fox Renderfarm Projects
"Malaysian Flick ‘Ribbit’ to Premiere at Niagara Fest,The render part of this cartoon movie has been done by Fox Renderfarm which belongs to Rayvision Inc."
Ontario, Canada’s Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) is taking place June 19-22, showcasing a hand-picked selection of films from around the world. One of the premieres that will be featured at the event is the global debut of Malaysian animated film Ribbit from KRU International’s Kartun Studios. The film stars Sean Astin, Russell Peters and Tim Curry and will be screened in 3D on June 21.
Ribbit centers on its titular frog hero who is a bit of a dreamer who doesn’t fit in with the other frogs. To escape from reality he hangs out in his “clubhouse,” a downed, dilapidated plane in the jungle, and reads about animals who have no trouble finding their purpose in life in old copies of National Geographic.
Written and directed by Kartun’s chief creative officer Chuck Powers, the CG film is “a beautiful heart-warming adventure” aimed at the whole family. Ribbit is the first feature length project from the studio and has already been sold to over 80 countries worldwide, including the U.K., Germany, Australia, Japan, China and Brazil, which will likely see releases in the fall. KRU currently has five 3D animated films and three animated television series in development.
"Upin & Ipin" Won The Best Feature Category at ANIMAZE 2019
Fox Renderfarm Projects
Upin & Ipin
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris (Malay: Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal) (short for Upin & Ipin), produced by Les' Copaque Production Sdn. Bhd., rendered by Fox Renderfarm, has won the Best Feature category at the Montreal International Animation Film Festival 2019 (ANIMAZE).
ANIMAZE is an international film festival and conference dedicated to exploring the world of animation in all its diversity. Filmmakers from over 65 countries working in a wide range of genres and styles converge on Montreal in the summer. Proudly, the mischievous twins Upin and Ipin are now the winners of the international film award.
In this fantasy film, Upin, Ipin and their friends find a magical kris which transports them into a fictional country known as Inderaloka. Here they meet various colourful characters from Malay folklore and help them battle an powerful villian. Les' Copaque, the production company of Upin & Ipin, elected to create its own unique intellectual property based on traditional Malaysian mythology, but told in an energetic, child-friendly way.
The production of Upin & Ipin took 5 years to complete, and the cost is almost RM20 million, making it the most expensive Malaysian film ever made. Fox Renderfarm’s reliable and high-efficient cloud rendering service helped a lot in its rendering process. As a local animated film in Malaysia, Upin & Ipin’s award means a lot to the Malaysian animation industry.
Here we congratulate on Upin & Ipin’s great success in gaining international recognition and sincerely look forward to working together for the next project soon again!
BoBoiBoy Movie 2 To Be Released In 5 Countries With Much Sensation In This Summer
Fox Renderfarm Projects
BoBoiBoy Movie 2, which used cloud rendering service provided by Fox Renderfarm, is a 2019 Malaysian computer-animated superhero comedy film. It is Animonsta Studios second film and the sequel of BoBoiBoy: The Movie (2016).
This film is about Retak'ka, an ancient being with elemental powers that intends to seize BoBoiBoy's elemental powers. With the help of his friends, BoBoiBoy needs to stop Retak'ka from taking BoBoiBoy's powers.
This is the first time a Malaysian animated film will be released simultaneously in 5 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, and Vietnam on 8 August 2019.
While most animation studio takes close to four years to complete a film, Animonsta Studios pushed itself to finish BoBoiBoy Movie 2 in just 12 months with a budget of RM 7 million.
Animonsta Studios’s CEO Nizam Abd Razak, who is also the film’s writer, director and co-producer explained: “We did face a lot of challenges making this movie in 12 months.”
“Fans can expect exciting visuals and plenty of action sequences. We’ve enhanced the animation quality with some new software, which allowed us to not only work on the product faster but animate moving water, moving trees and even add movements to hair. In the first film, we didn’t have any of this.” said Nizam.
The cooperation between Animonsta Studios and Fox Renderfarm went very smoothly. As for Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering service, Animonsta Studios reckoned that it’s fast and reliable. The service has successfully delivered the job within limited time frame without have to compromise the quality.
BoBoiBoy will see you guys on the big screen this summer!
CGTS-Malaysia Sparks Your Creativity
Fox Renderfarm News
Malaysian Animated Films
Providing a platform for CG industry elites to share and communicate, sparking their creativity and imagination, promoting the development of CG industry are the purposes that RAYVISION launched the CGTS (CG Tech Summit). After the first CGTS-Shenzhen, RAYVISION (Fox Renderfarm) held CGTS-Malaysia on April 7th, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, with Robust Fox and UNDO as the co-organizers.
This China-Malaysia CG Industry Future and Development Conference aims at building a bridge for friendly sharing and exchanging, accelerating the win-win cooperation between China and Malaysia CG industry companies. The conference gathered many Chinese and Malaysian CG professionals, including Tuan Haji Burhanuddin, the CEO of Malaysian top animation studio Les’Copaque, Rick Xu, the chair of ACM SIGGRAPH Shenzhen chapter, Kenny Zou, the CEO of RAYVISION, Ben Cheung, the VP of RAYVISION, Mike Zheng, the marketing director of RAYVISION.
As the host, T.A. Yeep, the principal consultant of Robust Fox, expressed his gratitude and introduced the purposes and agenda to all the guests.
As the first speaker, Ben Cheung’s wonderful speech attracted all guests’ attention. He introduced the current situation and development of China films, special effects and animation industry from different aspects, such as the box office in China, the value and profit of Chinese film and animation box office, Chinese mainstream CG production studios. And he analyzed the massive challenges and difficulties that Chinese CG industry faced.
Kenny Zou, the CEO of RAYVISION, showed Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering solution. He told us why the CG artists use cloud rendering and why choose Fox Renderfarm’s cloud render platform by elaborating the difficulties of both VFX and 3D animation production. He also showed splendid animation films rendered by Fox Renderfarm.
Tuan Haji Burhanuddin, the CEO of Les'Copaque Production, shared his precious experience in his career. His topic is “IP Creation: Between Failure & Success”. He introduced business model of Malaysian animation industry, analyzed IP creators and its challenges and highlighted that “content is the king” is the key to success of IP creation.
Rick Xu, the chair of ACM SIGGRAPH Shenzhen chapter, used vivid charts to show gross and profit in Chinese animation market, users and grow rate in Chinese game industry, mobile game market share and eco-system of CG outsourcing market in China, thoroughly analyzed the whole CG industry outsourcing market in China.
T.A. Yeep hosted the roundtable and asked speakers a few questions about culture differences between Malaysia and China, expectation from Malaysia animation studio, expectation from Chinese investors and outsourcing companies, type of collaboration that would work. The audiences also asked questions actively and shared their own valuable experiences.
After the conference, all the guests were even not willing to leave, they appreciate this precious opportunity and hope to learn more experience and exchange more ideas with each other.
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