Ask CraveFX Directors Anything: Animation, Studio Life and Being A Boss
If you’re reading this, then it won’t be news to you that making an animated film is so much more than just a bunch of drawings. The creation of moving pictures is hard work. And if animated video production is a multifaceted, complex journey, then the director is the compass that guides the ship to its destination.
So grab your popcorn, because this time, we’re giving you an exclusive glimpse of what goes on behind the screens. From navigating the workplace to helming a company, Crave’s in-house directors – Davier and Joshua – spill the tea.
Let’s talk about the animation industry.
Animation as a whole has embarked on quite the transformative journey. Now the first thing you might think of is: “Anime!” If so, we don’t blame you, it’s understandably derivative. But it’s also a glimpse of only a small part of one of filmmaking’s greatest magics! Look deeper and you’ll discover that the industry encompasses countless variations of – and uses for – the medium.
Davier & Josh (Both): As creators, we get a constant stream of inspiration from many sources – TV shows, other animations, movies, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, and yes, anime. Basically, we’re sponges absorbing content from everywhere and anywhere. When you wring us, our inspiration drips out.
Davier: It hasn’t all been rosy though, COVID was a strain in more ways than one. Thank goodness for diversification! We had a huge chunk of event-based projects that were canceled or postponed when the circuit breaker happened, but we were fortunate to have had a bunch of explainers and VFX work that helped tide us through.
So then you might be wondering: What’s the next big thing in animation? Two words: Game engines – embrace the age of video games and VR!
Both: Singapore’s animation scene is very promising. Last year’s NDP featured the best of Singapore animation talents (including yours truly), so I think Singaporeans are realising that we do have talent locally, and we just need the opportunities and the willingness to cultivate it. That said, we need to look at animation beyond the traditional movie/tv series, and look into new mediums.
Advice about bein’ a boss. Literally.
One of the best pieces of advice you’ll receive on managing your own company? Don’t just hear, listen. Put yourself in everybody’s shoes, treat everyone how you would like to be treated. This goes for both clients and employees. And let’s not forget that golden work-life ratio, which can be difficult to achieve when you’re the boss.
Davier: Let go of the idea that you need to micromanage everything. The people we hire are good talented people, and we should trust them to do a good job.
Joshua: It’s tough at times, but having an awesome team you can rely on takes a huge load off our shoulders.
Both: Speaking of tough times, our greatest challenge would have to be the COVID-19 circuit breaker in 2020. It was a total upheaval to the way we worked, especially considering our people-centric culture. We saw a huge drop in business that year, and we were even making plans in case the market couldn’t recover in time. We had a lot of tough conversations during that time. Thankfully, we never had to carry out any of those plans. We’re still alive and kicking, and it’s in no small part because of our excellent team at CraveFX.
Davier: Everyone starts out somewhere. If you’re a freelancer looking to start up your own show, you’ll know the time is right when you find that you’re constantly needing help from other artists to work on your projects, and you love creating a community of like-minded individuals who work and play together.
And of course, our favourite company.
Davier: Founded with the hope that people would crave our services, we named CraveFX after the idea of wanting something so much that you crave it.
Both: It all began with 8k in the bank, a couple of workstations, 2 legit copies of Maya (we just really wanted the box) and tons of determination. We’d like to think of our employees as the people who give the company its cool factor. Crave is currently 50 peeps strong!
Davier: We have big dreams for Crave. Have a gander down the pipeline with us: It is 2027. The Omega Delta Sigma Lambda variant is ravaging the world. Everyone is on their Apple mixed reality headsets exploring the metaverse. We are still waiting for supplies of PS5s to arrive for our 5-year work anniversary employees from 2020. There is a never-ending demand for real-time 3D content. CraveFX is churning them out as fast as they can.
Joshua: …if we make enough money, we plan to build a Crave space station in 2027. Stay tuned.
Work with us! We don’t bite.
Both: Crave is always on the lookout for fresh talent. We value teamwork, learnability and curiosity above all else. For instance, if you’re looking to enter as a motion graphics designer, you’ll need to not only keep up with the current styles and trends of the motion design world, but also be able to function well in a team, and be willing to learn new things every day.
We’re open to freelancers from anywhere in the world. Just send your resume and portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org (shortlisted applicants will be put on our freelancer list and we’ll contact you on an ad-hoc basis). We welcome international applicants too. In fact, Crave has quite a diverse team here in Singapore. Unfortunately, due to MOM’s regulations we do have a quota to work with, so our intake of international employees is limited.
If you’re looking to learn the ins and outs of animation, our animator internship program is also a good place to start. Here are some qualities we’ll be looking for in our interns: a strong sense of initiative (no spoon feeding here!), a good sense of timing and strong poses in your character animation reel (should you be shortlisted for an interview, be prepared to tell us how long it took you to do those shots), a good attitude towards learning (being able to learn from feedback goes a long way and sometimes makes up for skills that are not yet polished).