Guide to the Singapore Animation Industry

Hello animators,

Students who are currently enrolled into an animation programme, be it NTU’s ADM, Digipen’s animation or NYP’s DMD animation or a similar programme,  must have a clear picture on where they are heading with their career and what lies ahead of them. Be responsible; be aware of industry expectations. I have been through a fair bit of schooling in this field and I have heard countless hearsay horror stories, unfounded speculations, assumptions, and mentalities that can cripple the industry like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s inconsequential to be complaining about difficult times or spreading the negativity; instead, let’s take action!

I understand and acknowledge that there are many common problems artists/animators face around the world, but I’ll like to emphasise that these observations and advice are in reference to the animation industry in Singapore, and dedicated to the Singaporean animation students. Enough disclaimers, here are a few pointers to get you started with understanding the Singapore Animation Industry.

1. Animation industry serves two distinct industries!
Being able to provide animation services allow you to dwelve into two similar-on-the-surface but very separate industries, the Entertainment industry and the Advertising industry. Examples of animation work in the Entertainment industry are the likes of Pixar animated features films, Hollywood VFX-heavy blockbuster films, children’s animated television series, and broadcast media falls loosely into this category etc. Examples of animation work in the Advertising industry are the likes of 3D product renders for laptop or headphone commercials, 3D product end shots for television commercials, and 3D animated demos of internal workings of medication, milk formulas… you get the idea. Both these industries require the very same skill sets to create attractive and nice-looking moving visuals. The market and job market for these two industries are also distinctly different. Students need to be aware of, and understand the differences in order to know how to train and position themselves.

2. Point 1 directly influences how you prepare yourself
Animation is a mega-godzilla-large discipline that involves storytelling, acting, design etc. and to the other end of the spectrum where you’re tweaking light samples to optimise your 3D renders. It’s extremely difficult to be an expert at everything, but you definitely can be an expert at a few of the sub-disciplines, especially closely-related skills.

As of the time of writing, there’s a huge demand for 3D generalists for the Advertising scene because products and their features need to look great in order to sell them. So that’s great news for animators going into the realm of 3D production work. In the realm of the entertainment scene, there needs to be strong push in IP creation and hence very strong pre-production skills like concept design and storyboard is in demand. That said, there are significantly less job openings on the pre-production side simply because it takes more people to work in production. Also note that some studios understandably outsource the production work to be cost-effective, and there also studios who strive to keep production in-house.

Of course, this is severely over-simplifying the economics of the business, but the point is to encourage students to get used to reaching out to the people who currently work in the relevant industry to find out if the industry’s demand aligns with what their interests. On this note, don’t just speak to one person (also don’t just believe everything I say here), speak to as many as you can, from as many different companies as you can to avoid overly-biased perspectives and misjudgements.

3. Awareness
This is not exactly a third point but a summary. I think the awareness of the industry a student wishes to get in to is very crucial for student animators. I’ve observed many pitfalls. For instance, I’ve seen many students who wish to work as a 2D hand-drawn animator in Singapore but the truth is that the job openings for 2D animation production in Singapore is close to non-existent. However, it’s not impossible to work as a 2D hand-drawn animator, we just have to be aware that 2D hand-drawn production has more presence in some places in Europe, and of course Japan. Students just need to be aware whether their interests aligns to the market’s demands to properly plan their education.

Hope this was helpful for some students. Of course, please share this information with your peers, stay motivated as a community, become professional and confident at your craft. Until then, keep animating, keep dreaming! Again, this is a post is based on my personal observation and experience in this industry. So, there may be things that you may not agree with based on your experience and I will love to learn from your experiences too. Feel free to drop me a message!

12 replies
  1. FreeFlowCheese
    FreeFlowCheese says:

    Hey, just bumped into this post while looking for advice on entering uni, I am planning to apply for both of the degree schools, but before that I have to set my goals and be prepared before entering.

    I just have a qn about whether it is smart/practical to just fully focus on the craft of 3d animation , and survive in singapore’ s market? Is it possible to work solely as a 3d animator? (I dont consider myself to be very good at 2d stuff)

    • Ronald Fong
      Ronald Fong says:

      Hey, thanks for your question. I think it’s good to focus on being excellent on the craft. But solely on the craft, I don’t think so. The other big part of the equation to survival in the business, is to let the world know that you’re excellent at your craft. Yes, it’s possible to work solely as a 3D animator if you find yourself a big company (not too many in Singapore). In smaller companies, you should at least be equally well-versed in the next-to-animation disciplines such as rigging / layout.

      Same to you as with Jose, feel free to email me any further questions, or we can arrange to meet if you have a ton of questions =)

  2. Jose Chow
    Jose Chow says:

    Thank you so much for this post, is there any way i could talk to you more and contact you about the animation industry in Singapore. I am going to study Digital Animation at Singapore Poly this year and I would love to know more about the industry and what to do to best ensure a..bright future.

    • Ronald Fong
      Ronald Fong says:

      Yes, like any other skill-based career, your job security is as strong as how skillful you are. You can achieve a good standard of living if you’re skillful, and find the right place to work. Are you looking to pursue career in animation?

  3. Sylvestian
    Sylvestian says:

    Very insightful! Thank for the post. I’m currently studying in SP in diploma of Digital Animation and I plan to focusing on traditional hand-drawn animation. However, I am worried that there are no jobs in Singapore that needs such a skillset. What do you think?

    • Ronald Fong
      Ronald Fong says:

      Hi Sylvestian,

      Thanks for your comment. Pardon my tardy reply. I think in the realms of motion design, I can think of a couple of companies that still do cell animation for their clients. They colour these hand-drawn animation in pop colours because it’s quite trendy in 2018. So, I think there will always be a niche appreciation for traditional hand-drawn animation, but students must keep track of how to make the skill applicable to the needs of the industry. As long as you keep that in check and be the best hand-drawn animator in Singapore, you wouldn’t have much trouble finding jobs here. At least, this is what I think at the time of writing this note, but as with all mediums, 3D animation included, they may also be obsolete one day, just make effort to keep staying relevant!

      Email me if you’ve further questions! I don’t check my blog as often as my email


  4. manyaa saluja
    manyaa saluja says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge to us , I am an animation student in lasalle is there any way I could contact you in person to ask a few questions regarding interning and then future jobs here in the animation industry in Singapore?

  5. Hidir
    Hidir says:

    Hi i just recieved my o level results. Id like to pursue in animation as it is my dream. But my parents are not very fond of me studying animation and is afraid of me not being able to survive in singapore. It hurts to dump my aspirations. I dont know wether i should choose some other courses or stick with animation

    • Ronald Fong
      Ronald Fong says:

      Hi Hidir,

      I think you should let you parents know that you’ve heard them, acknowledge their concern, and give their advice some serious consideration. After all, they mean well for you.

      Side note. My parents probably had similar concerns but they weren’t the most vocal about it. I had to read between the lines to gather their concerns and seriously asked myself if I’ve the perseverance and grit to make my parents concerns non-issues in a few years time. From time to time, I made it a point to reassure them whenever I had small milestone achievements, like animation awards, attaining a scholarship, getting into university etc. Perhaps you can ask yourself similar guiding questions, and I wish you the best in finding your answers. cheers!


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