Did you know that Warcraft III: Reforged, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Command & Conquer Remastered, and Wasteland 3 was brought to life by a Malaysian CGI studio? The company behind this feat is none other than Lemon Sky Studios founded by Wong Cheng Fei, alumnus of The One Academy and esteemed animator.
The 45-year-old started his career back in 1995, entering the creative industry as an illustrator and comic artist while working as an assistant in Tatsun Studios. It was here that he taught himself 3D Animation in a bid to hone his skills and talent. Following this, he was hired by Fat Lizard, a boutique studio that specialized in 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI) for the advertising industry with a special focus on television commercials. Although Cheng Fei was brought on mainly to produce storyboards, he did not turn down opportunities to work on 3D animation, taking it as practice and self-improvement.
Establishing his first studio in 2001 specializing in CGI VFX for TV and film, he then started to get involved in-game art production in 2005. In 2010, he restructured the companies and established Lemon Sky to focus on game art short-form and long-form CGI animation production. Having been in the industry for over a decade, Lemon Sky now houses over 300 staff.
The studio has grown to become one of the leading independent game arts, animation and VFX studio in the region, which has been producing high-quality art & animation production for major clients such as EA, Microsoft, Sony, Disney, Dreamworks, Blizzard, WB Games, Square Enix, 2K Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Bethesda Softworks, Konami, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Nelvana, Spin Master and many more.
Lemon Sky’s biggest project to date is Warcraft III: Reforged which involved a team of over 100 people working on the art production of this title from start to finish, handling animation, asset creation, concept art, environments, FX, illustration, key art creation, props creation and UI creation. By the project’s completion, they had successfully produced thousands of lovingly crafted assets from scratch while still capturing the spirit and history behind the original iconic designs.
An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience, Cheng Fei notes that in 1990s, the standards for video games were not very high as compared to these days where the masses expect AAA games. There is definitely a future in Malaysia’s creative industry, especially now as demand increases for animations, movies, video games and more. Despite that, it is difficult to find talents that are keen to pursue a career in this industry as it is a fairly new field.
He laments that many citizens are unaware that some of their favourite games were illustrated and animated by fellow Malaysians and that we do indeed have local talents that match international standards. “Even when I asked my own neighbours if they knew Malaysians are behind these big titles, they didn’t!”, he exclaimed.
As a result, the talent pool is also pretty small. “I truly appreciate those who come in for interviews and show interest in this field”, said Cheng Fei. He explained that at Lemon Sky, the alumni always go back to their schools to teach students and share their experience, helping those pursuing a creative education to learn faster and gain insight about the real world.
His key advice to the youth is not to worry about getting hired because as long as they produce good work, they will definitely get recognised. “You just need to do your job as best as you can, and you will definitely get recognised. Slowly but surely your talent will shine and the international market will come looking for you”. He also advised them to always be enthusiastic and keep practicing their art. “The more you practice, the better you get. There are no shortcuts to success, it definitely takes time and hard work”.
Lemon Sky Studios’ recent work is the local animated comedy series AstroLOLogy, featuring characters based on the 12 signs of the Western zodiac and the comedic interactions which naturally occur when these wacky personalities hang out with one another in their world. Within three months of its launch, AstroLOLogy gained over 100,000 subscribers on its official YouTube channel.
Since then, it has accumulated a total of over 210 million views and 608,000 subscribers, with the most viewed AstroLOLogy episode garnering over 41 million views. Despite being fairly new to the animation scene, it has already bagged numerous awards including the ‘Best Animation TV/ Web Series’ at the New York Animation Film Awards and the ‘Award of Excellence — Best Animation’ at the Vegas Movie Awards. This cements the fact that Malaysia’s art and design industry is capable of standing it’s ground against international counterparts and with dedicated virtuosos like Wong Cheng Fei leading the way, the future of our creative scene does look very bright.
The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its ‘Masters Train Masters’ coaching philosophy, which has been practised for almost 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses namely Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts and Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making. For more information on The One Academy, visit www.toa.edu.my or call (+603) 7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].
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