From being mislabelled as ‘aminasi’ to the wonderful world of local animation we have today, Kamn Ismail is a name to be remembered.
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While the name Kamn Ismail may not ring a bell to younger Malaysians, many should be familiar with his work in the local animation scene with characters like Usop Sontorian and Keluang Man.
To celebrate the 67th birthday of this leading figure in the Malaysian animation industry, Google Malaysia has dedicated a special doodle in memory of him.
Kamn passed away on 8 December 2019 at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre from a heart attack after two months of undergoing treatment.
“From having no experience to studying and experimenting with computer software to creating his animation and the successful outcome that we all saw on our TV screen.”Judy Wong, Product Marketing Manager of Google Malaysia
“Kamn’s efforts of building a community to uphold local content and giving back to the new generation is a testament to his legacy.
“On what would be his 67th birthday, we celebrate Kamn Ismail and his significant contribution to Malaysia’s animation.”
Local cartoonist Ibrahim Anon, more commonly known as Ujang, said he was elated that Google Malaysia chose to commemorate his late friend’s fruitful career.
I’m very happy because nobody believed in us when we started out. People said our project would fail. And we felt proud when it (Usop Sontorian) came out as Malaysia’s first animated seriesIbrahim Anon @ Ujang
Ujang, who had worked as a writer for Usop Sontorian noted that their success was achieved at a time when the local animation industry was still in its infancy, and had still been struggling with hurdles such as a lack of animators, equipment, funding and access to knowledge.
Kamn and I toured the country to look for animators, we ended up gathering 90 over artists at the end after we travelled the whole of Malaysia. And we also have problems with the artists’ parents as they asked us what is an animator. They call animation ‘aminasi’ because they haven’t seen a cartoon.Ibrahim Anon @ Ujang
In a short video that was played at the Google headquarters yesterday, Kamn’s daughter, Dalila Kamaruddin also shed some light on her father’s journey and passion in the animation world.
“Abah had always been interested in animation. And because of his passion, he made lots of references to Disney’s animations,” she shared.
Dalila also added that her father had always been a movie buff and that most of his personal movie collections were all animations.
My family grew up with animations from our childhood right up to our adulthood. We all watched animated movies and shows together. Abah used to join us kids whenever we watched cartoons and there was no such thing as ‘too many cartoons’ in our household.Dalila Kamaruddin
Also sharing fond memories of Kamn was Amir Hamzah Hashim, who is the president of the Malaysians Animation Association (Animas).
Kamn had produced many animations in the past but his most well known principle was that of nation building. He always expressed this word to produce a form of unity, harmony and national identity in his animation. That was his point of view when it came to producing local animationsAmir Hamzah Hashim, Animas president
Amir added that Kamn used to hold on to the belief that when making local animations, we need not copy foreign animations, instead we should create our own content and promote it in our own ways for our people.
“Kamn never steered away from his principles even from the very beginning during the productions of Usop Sontorian until the end of his life,” he said.
Following his first success with Malaysia’s first animated series — Usop Sontorian — that aired on TV1 from 1991 to 1997, he went on to produce and direct a number of popular animation series including Keluang Man, Che Nat, Legenda Kinabalu and Mat Kilau.
Kamn also co-founded Animas in 2001 and served as its first president.
He also won the Best Animation award for the telemovie Kumang at the 16th Malaysian Film Festival.