This time, we get the chance to chat with Jakasatiawan Wirasudibya, an artist with many proven talents! He started his international career in the industry since 2008. An animator turns story development artist turns director.
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Jakasatiawan (J): Hi Bengkel Animasi, sorry telat jawabnya. Baru settle down di KL, nih.
Bgkl: Wah gapapa kang.. Malah makasih banget udah nyempetin waktu buat sharing ama kita-kita.
Now to get used to it, let’s switch to English 🙂
Tell us a bit of your back story. How did you got interested into animation? And what made you choose this line as a career? How was the learning process like?
J: Well, I grow up with Saturday morning cartoons, plenty of toys and comic books. My parents also gave me endless supply of pencils and papers for me to doodle and scribble. Growing up, I was that kid who sit on the back row of the class and draw. Most of my books were filled with doodles instead of notes.
I went on to take Visual Communication Design for my major, that really opened up a whole new world for me. While there, I met lots of talented people, learned about design thinking and creative process. At that time, my goal was to become a comic artist. I was still a big fan of animation, but at that time, I thought it was something impossible to achieve in Indonesia. Until one day I saw a 3D Animation work in an expo, done by Riza Endartama, an Indonesian CG artist, using just a regular home PC. Knowing that 3D Animation could be done with just a simple set up, really blew my mind, so I started researching what were the requirements and software. Information was limited at that time, so I really cherished every bit of it. After I got my own set up, then it continued to mostly ‘learning by doing’ process. I had a friend who was also passionate about animation, so we challenged and supported each other. Those were very exciting times, because I was finding new things everyday, I was seeing my ideas came to live. That was when I decided, Man.. I want to do this…
Bgkl: You have quite a huge arc in your career journey so far. Started off by being an Animator, then creatively directing several animation projects, and currently being in story development department. How and why did all that happened?
J: It comes pretty natural actually. During the time of development/pre-production, animators were required to do some tests on characters’ movements and personalities. We thought of a small story or gag for the test. Then, I sort of volunteered to come up with other stories and ideas. The feedbacks that I got from the managements were great. This made me promoted to be the head of the story team.
At the same time, I got the opportunity to direct that same project too. That was a big learning curve for me. When I am animating, I was mostly focusing on the small details, making sure every frame is right. While as a director I need to see things in a much bigger picture.
“As a director, I’m only as good as my crew.”
– Jakasatiawan Wirasudibya
Bgkl: Is there any specific role that you wanted to do in the end of the day? Why do you choose that, if any?
J: I always want to be part of something that the audience will enjoy. So, I don’t want to name any specific role, but after trying out different ones, I realize that it is the creative process that I fell in love with, collaborating with other artists, brainstorming, trying out different ideas, and exploring all the possibilities. So whether I’m animating, supervising, story-boarding or directing as long as I’m challenged creatively, I’ll be happy.
Bgkl: How is directing role like? What are your responsibilities?
J: It’s a big responsibility. As a director, I need to have a vision on how the show is going to turn out. Everyone is going to look up to me, and expect me to have all the answers. But the truth is, sometimes I don’t. And it is important that I know how and where to get those answers. I also learned to trust the artists, giving them some space to allow them to do their creative works, while also making sure that they are heading to the right direction towards my vision as a director. It was a really great experience for me, because I got to collaborate with all the different departments and see things taken shape, from early rough sketches to the final finish product. As a director, I’m only as good as my crew. I was fortunate to have a great crew to support me at that time.
Bgkl: You’ve also lead and managed a mix bag of animators from several countries, including those from Indonesia. Can you share more of that experience?
J: Ya. Well first, we have to understand that everyone has their own strength and weakness. Some animators are good in dramatic settle shots, while others are good in fast-paced action shots. So each of their assignments will be based on these values. But in the long run, I also want to give them something new, so they can be challenged to grow and be better. I just have to find the right balance for that, in every animator.
The next important thing is the ‘people skill’. I learned that each individual needs different way of approach. It is important for the each member of the team to feel comfortable working with me, so they can bring out their best works.
Bgkl: Let’s talk about ‘Story’. How important is this thing in an Animation project? Can you tell us the process of how you develop ideas and stories?
J: Currently I only have experience on developing short form type of stories. But I believe either in a short or long form, story is really important. It’s what makes the audience glued to the screen till the end.
Story development process is very dynamic, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of doing it. It can start from anywhere, from just a simple sentence, an illustration, or even a joke. I also find it important, that no matter how wacky or crazy your story is, it needs some factors that everyone can relate in to.
When I was working on Oddbods, me and my story team had to come up with lots of stories every month. We listed down the themes and set ups of where we want those stories to take place, and started discussing about them. The discussion process usually becomes more like a casual talk, where we share our own experiences or stories that we heard from other people. It will then triggers some funny ideas or moments to be put in to the story. We also like to try out different scenarios, I call it the “what if” games. Let’s say we come up with an idea, keep asking “what if” this and “what if” that happens. Usually the first ideas are common, but once we start exploring other possibilities, it gets much more interesting.
Bgkl: How do you grow and develop your artistic skills?
J: I surround myself with talented people and engage them, talk with them about different things. That’s how I stay inspired. I try to doodle and scribble most of the time, too.
Bgkl: Any personal milestones/memories, during your career journey, that you would like to share with us?
J: When I took the job as a story artist, I was quite afraid and excited at the same time. It was like going into an unknown territory, where I’m not familiar with. But at the same time, I remember having a very good feeling about it. It’s kind of the same feeling I had in the early days of when I was learning animation. Discovering new things and trying things out for the first time. The same feeling appears again when I started directing. Then I figured, every single time I was challenged with something new, I’m feeling this kind of excitements. All of these different responsibilities also help me to grow as an artist.
Bgkl: How is our local animation industry & education progressing in your eyes?
J: It’s growing, not as fast as I hoped it would be, but going towards a positive direction. I’m currently in Malaysia and discovers that there are a lot of Indonesian artists working here, some of them are even fresh-grads. So education must be doing something right.
Bgkl: Any tip for those who still learning, or maybe just started their journey in the industry?
J: I’m going to quote Steve Jobs on this, “Stay foolish and stay hungry”. As an artist in the industry, you want to keep on discovering and creating new things. Everyday should be a learning process to become better. Be ready, because the journey is not going to be easy. But be thrilled and enjoy the ride at the same time.
PERSONAL BIO :
Name : Jakasatiawan Wirasudibya
Current position : Animation supervisor / Development
Date of birth : 3 April 1982
List of project credits :
Veggie Tales: Big River Rescue – Animator
Zigby – Animator
Dinosaur Train, season 1 & 2 – Animator
Rob The Robot, season 1 & 2 – Senior animator / Animation supervisor
Oddbods – Head Of Story / Director
Bubble Bath Bay – Animation Supervisor
Working history :
Sparky Animation, Singapore
One Animation, Singapore
Lemon Sky Animation, Malaysia
Website : jakasatiawan.blogspost.com
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org