is the man who was there when it all happened.
The man sometimes also known as the "father of Malaysian animation" (although he would humbly dispute that distinction himself, because he says there were others before him), is a self-taught artist.
Hassan started out creating artwork and decorations for the Robinson's department store in the '60s before joining Filem Negara as titling artist.
Very soon he
was producing festive season trailers with a team of people, even without any knowledge about animation.
remembers that for one of the Christmas sequences, he
had to animate walking camels.
"Not knowing anything about animation registration, I found that the camels started to walk up towards the sky!
says with a laugh.
"I also had to get on all fours to imitate a walking animal and get the animation done."
Hassan and the other animators continued to learn diligently from whatever source they could find, including Australian animator Frank Smith who came to animate a commercial for Sissons Paint in 1972 and was offered Filem Negara's facilities for that purpose.
This self-training continued and Hassan
and others such as Adman Salleh, Sharifuddin Kahar, Ahmad Kamarul and Arif Don made a bunch of animated public service trailers about drug abuse, vandalism and saving electricity, among other subjects.
"My animated public service trailer, Nyamuk Aedes, was banned from being screened on TV in the late '70s," says Hassan
"It showed the aedes mosquitoes having a meeting and planning on how to kill humans.
It was very popular (in the cinemas) and many professionals told me that it was an effective way to get serious messages across."
Unfortunately for Hassan
, an MP spoke up in Parliament asking why the leader of the mosquitoes was talking like an opposition member.
But Nyamuk Aedes continued screening in the cinemas.
"Even at the storyboard stage, I was asked to make a lot of changes in presentation," says Hassan
"Instead of the crowd of mosquitoes yelling 'Yay!' every time their leader made a point, I had to change it to 'Ya, ya, ya!'."
In the '80s, when Adib Adam took over as information minister, he
was shown Malaysia's first animated fiction film, Hikayat Sang Kancil, done by Anandam Xavier who started work on it in the 60s and completed it in 1978.
However, the film was banned from being screened.
Hassan explains it was because in that year, there was the disgraced politician Harun Idris' corruption case.
"So Adib asked for a Sang Kancil
animated series," Hassan
Still, while doing adminstrative duties, Hassan
wrote the script, drew the storyboard, designed one of the three characters and prepared the layouts.
After six months, Sang Kancil & Monyet
"Finally it was shown on Hari Raya 1984 and was an immediate hit," says Hassan
says, resulted in the private sector producing the first ever local animated series, Usop Sontorian, which began airing in 1995.
And in 1998, Hassan
himself made the first local animated feature film, Silat Lagenda, which used a combination of hand-drawn and computer-generated animation and visual effects which took three years and more than 3 million ringgit to make.
recognises that Malaysia is currently in the fourth phase of animation.
says the first phase was doing animation the traditional and laborious way.
The second phase in the '80s and early '90s saw the use of computers in line testing as well as 2D animation software that allowed the scanning of manually-rendered drawings.
This saw great savings in time, labour and cost.
"In this phase, we mastered the hardware and software, and many creative young talents became world-class," Hassan
"But not necessarily in the storytelling aspects.
There was too much emphasis on storymaking - techniques - rather than storytelling."
Ideas, concepts, characterisations and narrative suffered as such.
And as most lecturers were not trained in animation but came from the architecture and graphics disciplines, they tended to emphasise the mastering of the software.
"They didn't know that a fundamental understanding of film grammar and film language was essential for visual storytelling," says Hassan
"They thought storyboarding was about drawing and not about how the camera tells the story visually through placing of the camera, shot size, camera angles, lighting, camera movements and production design.
The storyboardist also needs to have an understanding of acting, cinematography and sound."
From the way Hassan
speaks about animation, one would never know that he
never had any formal training.
But years of experience and learning on the job have their advantages.
As for the fourth phase, Hassan
poses this question: "So where do we go from here?"
"It must be back to basics," he
"The Disney philosophy laid down 80 years ago is still relevant today," says Hassan