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Living in an animated world

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Rebecca's life would be dull if not for animation.

She always knew that she wanted to become an animator.

Growing up watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry and Princess Mononoke, Rebecca Lou was fascinated by how the use of specific sounds and body movement could portray the characters' actions. 

But the journey towards attaining her dream was not easy. After almost getting retained in Secondary three, Rebecca, now 20, bounced back and did well enough to study animation in polytechnic.

Today, Rebecca, fresh from a six-month internship with Disney, has four job offers, all of which she received even before she graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic last month. 

Speaking to Youth.SG last month, Rebecca recalled how she started animating, when she was 14. 

"My love for animation started when I watched Spirited Away, my first Japanese animated film. It was beautiful to me. Just like the main character, I was bewildered by the Japanese spirits and demons portrayed in the film," said Rebecca, who spent her free time animating stories and creating unique characters.

She added: "It allowed me to immerse myself in an imaginative environment. Through animation, I found an interest in the stories of people from different places and backgrounds."

After industry guests saw Rebecca's works during her school's graduation show, Fusionshe was offered multiple jobs.

However, in secondary three, Rebecca was almost retained for low grades. It was a wakeup call for her.

The former Anderson Secondary School student said: "I didn't have the motivation to study, as I had no passion for the subjects I was learning, except for one or two. I almost failed the last examination, so I barely managed to go to secondary four." 

"I realised that I had to do something. I knew I wouldn't be going anywhere if I couldn't even prove to my parents that I could pass my exams. I finally did my homework and paid attention in class."

Although her course can be stressful, Rebecca (third from the right) tries to stay positive in polytechnic. 

Her effort paid off when she received her 'N' level results.

Rebecca recalled: "It was a surprise for me during results day, and my name was in the top few."

Her results were good enough for her to enrol in the Polytechnic Foundation Programme, a one-year programme that prepares Normal Academic students for diploma courses related to their course of study.

The cartoon lover promptly chose Nanyang Polytechnic's animation course. However, entering an animation course without any formal art background was challenging.

Entering polytechnic was a turning point in Rebecca (second row, in glasses and black T-shirt)'s life. 

She said: "When I saw the works my peers could do, I felt quite intimidated, especially by the Direct Polytechnic Admission students. They came in through their portfolios, so their works were extraordinary to me."

But Rebecca, whose favourite animator is Rebecca Sugar, refused to feel beaten down. 

"This was the place for me to learn and pick up the skills. It was not about how much skills I had when I came in, but it's how much I leave with," said the bubbly youth. 

Rebecca constantly honed her skills.

"When I feel like animating something, no matter how simple, I animate it. It could be water, an animal or cartoons – I would simply animate it," said Rebecca.

Elephant in the Room, an illustrated children's storybook Rebecca created for her school assignment.

After four semesters, Rebecca felt confident enough to put her skills to the test. She secured a six-month internship with The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia, where she created marketing films for Disney movies, such as The Jungle Book and The BFG

How was it like working in a big company like Disney? 

Rebecca, who is proficient in 2D and 3D animations, said: "The digital marketing team was small. For the first three months, I was by myself, and I was the only creative there. I had to think from concepts and how I wanted to animate, from start to finish."

Rebecca (second from right, in a black T-shirt) interned as a digital marketing assistant at The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia,
where she helped out for the Captain America: Civil War blue carpet event at Marina Bay Sands.

She added excitedly: "I really liked this film that I did for The BFG. The original footage was actually very dark, and I had to add so many effects. The end product was more mystical and magical."

Rebecca and her colleague created this marketing video for The BFG to get viewers to share about their wildest dreams. 

So, what's next for her?

Rebecca, who graduated with a GPA of 3.96, is evaluating her four job offers.

"One of the most prominent job offers is Infinite Studios. I went to their office and talked to them about job opportunities there," said Rebecca, who also received the Lee Hsien Loong Award for outstanding all-round achievement last month.

She added: "I have also always wanted to be someone who makes a difference to others, and make an impact. Another dream of mine is to be a counsellor and help those in need... or be a creator, where my creations make a positive impact on those who watch it – similar to Rebecca Sugar, if you've seen Steven Universe."