Have you watched ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’? If you did, we’re sure that the film not only left you in awe with its enchanting storyline, but the amazing details that goes into representing us Southeast Asians.
And apparently, Adele Lim (the screenwriter) wasn’t the only Malaysian who played a huge role in the film.
We recently spoke to Disney Crowd Artist, D’Lun Wong
about his experience working on the film.
From Sungai Siput to Hollywood
D’Lun Wong hails from Sungai Siput, Perak and one day, he decided to make a move that would change his life forever in 1997.
The animator left the country to pursue his degree in animation in the United States and after completing his studies; he landed a job in technical animation.
“Later on, an opportunity opened up – they wanted someone to learn to do crowd simulation using massive software. So I jumped at the opportunity,” D’Lun told Rojak Daily
“From that day on, I never looked back and here I am today at Disney doing crowd animation.”
He’s now based in the US fulltime but occasionally returns to his kampung
to meet his family.
What exactly is a Crowd Artist?
To be honest, we’ve never heard of a ‘Crowd Artist’ before and the first thing that come to mind is – does he literally draw… crowds?
“A Crowd Artist’s responsibility is for example, when you see a scene on a street, usually you’ll have two main characters talking to each other. But before other departments add other stuff to it, we need to make the scene as lively as possible and this is where I come in.”
“I’ll add crowds, people talking in the background, people crossing the street or running, biking, and even cars. We do traffic too aside from humans. We do a whole range of other things such as cars, birds, bees, insects, and creatures. It’s our job to populate the screen.”
Although D’Lun’s job sounds fun, it comes with challenges.
“There are challenges at times because we have to deal with different aspects of stimulation like making sure the crowd characters fit into the context of the scene. Sometimes it could be lively; sometimes it could be subdued, as we don’t want to take away the attention from the heroes. But it’s fun.”
Dream job envied by many
Now what we know what D’Lun does, you just can’t help to wonder what other amazing Disney projects he has worked on in the past.
“The first film when I joined Disney two years ago was ‘Frozen 2’. And then I worked on a short film titled ‘Us Again’ which will be played before ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’. In the short film you’ll see a lot of cars, people dancing on the streets, and you’ll get what I was talking about earlier.”
As for future projects, D’Lun is also working on the ride film for a new ‘Zootopia’ attraction at Shanghai Disneyland.
The ride film is basically the visual you normally see throughout rides or attractions in theme parks.
You can also expect too see all sorts of crowds from the Perak animator in Disney’s next feature film ‘Encanto’ which is set for theatrical release at the end of 2021.
“It just keeps going on and on here, I’m having too fun I guess over here,” he said cheerily.
In ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, D’Lun took the opportunity to include Malaysian elements in the film.
“I worked on the pasar malam
scene, and tried to make it as lively as possible so that viewers can feel like they’re there and smelling all the amazing food.”
“You could see the chaos, the people on the street, people yelling at each other, fighting with vendors. I spent a lot of time working on the details.”
“There’s also a guy handing out satay to people who pass by asking if they’re interested to try it. Hopefully you guys can catch that scene.”
Some of these scenes go by very fast so you’ll have to pay close attention and if you blink, you’ll miss it.
Working for Disney is a dream for many and one that came true for D’Lun.
"It wasn't easy, but never give up, keep trying. I applied like 10 times before finally getting in. It takes time regardless of how much experience you have."
“Disney has a very inclusive working environment, accepting all kinds of people regardless of your skin colour. And this is being reflected in all Disney films especially now with ‘Raya’”.
He’s also happy to have met a few Malaysian colleagues in Disney.
And on what he thinks after looking at the end product of ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’…
“I think this is such an amazing film. It represents the Southeast Asian cultures from the different regions. It has a great inclusiveness and unifying theme to it. I’m so proud to have worked on it.”
‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is now out in cinemas and you can read our review here