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Female grad chasing animation dreams

SINGAPORE — More women are entering the animation sector — a typically male-oriented industry — and one of them, a young graduate, is hoping to make her mark there.

SINGAPORE — More women are entering the animation sector — a typically male-oriented industry — and one of them, a young graduate, is hoping to make her mark there.

Ms Ham Shi Ying, 20, and her team recently emerged as one of the top five finalists in the student category of the Singapore edition of the 15th TBS Digicon6 competition. The annual event recognises talented film creators in Asia, propelling them to compete on a regional stage in Japan last month.

The animation, which tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a cat and a fish, was Ms Ham and her team’s final-year project in September last year for their Diploma in Animation from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP).

Determined to create something compelling, Ms Ham, one of the students leading the project, pitched several story ideas, iterations and reworks to her lecturers. It took three months of planning and reworking to get the animation, Molly, fit for the competition.

Ms Ham said she has fond memories of watching animated films and drawing while growing up. When she was in Secondary 1, she participated in the annual NEmation! Competition.

Together with her team, she produced a one-minute animation about civil defence, which was eventually aired nationwide. She also took part in the competition for the next two years.

From there, Ms Ham’s love and fascination for the arts sector grew and, after her O-Levels, she enrolled in NYP’s Diploma in Animation course.

Ms Ham is among a growing group of female students who are showing an interest in animation, said the polytechnic’s lecturers.

Director of NYP’s School of Interactive and Digital Media, Mr Daniel Tan, said: “Over the years, we are seeing an almost equal ratio of male to female students in our animation course.”

Ms Deborha Daniele, a lecturer at the school, added that more women now realise they could forge a career in the animation sector.

“Over the last decade, the number of women entering the animation industry has been increasing. In addition, there are more women taking on higher positions in the sector, thanks to their talent, passion and skills.”

With more women entering the industry, the way stories are told could change. “Men and women have different perceptions of aesthetics. A female director might not be interested in making a movie about cars, but she might want to explore other themes, such as the relationship between a mother and daughter. We are also seeing many women introducing new characters with vibrant and delightful colours (in their works),” said Ms Grace Toh, Assistant Manager at the school.

Although her team did not take home an accolade from Japan, Ms Ham,now a designer at Robot Playground Media, feels a step closer to her goal of becoming an animator.

“We have had more female directors and lead animators in recent years, and diversity is always something that our films and people can benefit from,” she said.

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