Wong Keet Mun co-founded animation and visual effects house, Voyageur Studios.
What’s your story?
When I was 13 I was doing pretty bad in school, but I had fun playing video games and watching animation. By 15 I somehow convinced myself that doing computer graphics for a living was a great idea, so I took a computer assembly course, built my own computer on my parents’ dime, and learned how to use 3D Studio Max from library books. At age 22, after my military service, I joined Lucasfilm as a trainee and worked on tv shows and movies, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now 30, I’ve co-founded animation and visual effects house Voyageur Studios with Daniel Lee.
What excites you most about your industry?
I’m fascinated and surprised at the way players in my industry constantly find refreshing new ways to tell stories. Renewed interest and investment in virtual reality has gifted us with modern VR headsets. Microsoft and Magic Leap are just scratching the surface of what’s possible with augmented reality. And the games industry consistently makes its case as a storytelling artform.
What’s your connection to Asia?
More important than the fact that I was born and bred in Asia, is the fact that I have been influenced in no small part by asian pop culture. There’s a lot of energy in Asian film and games, in Singapore but of course in many other places like Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and the list goes on. I consider Jin-Roh, a Japanese anime, to be one of the most important films in my development as a CG artist.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’ve been based in Singapore my whole career, with my recent credits hailing from Hollywood. But I would definitely want to foster a creative relationship with Japan, Taiwan and Korea. The work coming out from these places never ceases to amaze.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It’s hard to label the best ever. But my mother used to tell me, even if she needed to read her textbooks 5 times more than her classmates, she’d do it anyway because there’s no shame in being slower. And she’d go on to ace the course and take top student honours. I believe she was describing tenacity to my 10 year old self.
Who inspires you?
It has to be my parents. From a creative standpoint, Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, The Sky Crawlers) and Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, The Wind Rises) are easy sources of inspiration. I attended a storytelling masterclass that used Spirited Away (by Miyazaki) as a case study of good character development in storytelling, and that lesson hasn’t left me since.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
All these hard questions! My brother recently used a touch of butter and white wine in his spaghetti aglio olio. I really should do that too.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would be less angry at the powers that be when I wasn’t in control, and just enjoy the ride. We do get more zen the older we get, don’t we?
How do you unwind?
I like jogging 10 kilometer distances around my neighbourhood. I’m lucky to live in the east where there are beaches and parks. Sometimes we get pummelled by problems from all sides, and jogging helps me to block out the noise and focus on the pertinent.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Has to be a tie between Japan and Taiwan. Japan simply because I’m a geek and everyone knows Akihabara is Mecca. Taiwan for its energy and warmth. There’s something about both countries’ urban landscapes that resonates with me.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I’ve never read a business book before, so I can’t possibly recommend one.
Shameless plug for your business:
Voyageur Studios does animation and visual effects for all kinds of industries. Film, tv, games, advertising, VR/AR and more. If you have a story to tell and you want premium visuals to go along with it, drop us a line and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ride.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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