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Malaysian Students’ Animation Makes It As Academy Award Semi-finalist

February 1, 2024 | Campus News

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently released the semi-finalists of the 50th Student Academy Awards competition and a group of Malaysian college students’ animated short film made it to this prestigious list amongst other animation entries from around the world. This group of final-year students from The One Academy’s Digital Animation and Illustration majors created a heart-warming masterpiece that impressed reputable international judges.

Out of nearly 2,500 entries from 720 colleges and universities worldwide and narrowed down to only 15 semi-finalists in the Animation category, the animation by our local students was one of them. It goes without saying that the animated short film was not only perfectly animated in terms of technicality but also portrayed creativity, great storytelling, breath-taking graphics and character design.

The short film titled “Chasing Nutcracker” is a story of a nutcracker who awakens in a magical toy factory and wants to become a Christmas gift like the others. However, with a defective arm, he finds himself being pursued by the factory’s robotic overseer to be dismantled. The message behind the story is that of self-worth, and that when we truly see the value in one another, we become complete.

“The inspiration for our film originated from my childhood fantasy of Christmas, which has always been my favourite season of all time. Growing up, I’ve always wondered if Santa Claus does exist, as well as where would Santa’s toy factory be and how it looks like,” revealed Ally Teo Pei Wen, the co-director and original storywriter.

“Chasing Nutcracker” is the effort of a 24-member team of 13 Digital Animation and 11 Illustration diploma students of The One Academy, taking about one year of production to complete. “It was a big learning curve for all of us, dipping our toes on what the industry is like for us was something we didn’t expect. As an animator, working with different majoring students has taught me a lot. With the different sets of skills we have, we were able to exchange different understandings of how things work,” said the director, Alfathiyya Nayla Adisha.

The students involved learned the importance of working together as a team and utilising each members’ skillset to benefit the entire production. This was the perfect environment to simulate the industry pipeline and workflow, preparing students with stress management, communicative, observational and problem-solving skills. There is no better way for them to enhance or hone these skills than by giving them hands-on experiences through collaborative projects.

It goes without saying that it took an entire village to create this project. “Our lecturers greatly encouraged us along the way when it comes to our creativity. The only limitation would be how big our ideas and plans were that they had to remind us to stay afoot to get our projects done on time!” added Alfathiyya.

When line producer Ariz Bryan Shah Bin Zahir Hussein was asked how he felt about all of this, he simply replied, “I'm overjoyed! To spend so much time working on the project, it feels amazing to get some recognition for the hard work that we put into it.” 

The creative industry in Malaysia is ever-evolving and students’ projects from The One Academy have proven to reach international standards and gain recognition, playing a vital role in noticing talents within our country. This is a proud moment for us all as it set such high standards for current artists and paved the way for aspiring artists to follow their passion and dream big.

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 over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science & Game Design. For more information, visit or call 03-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].

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