13 Feb 2019
In a studio in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune, a team of six aspiring young digital artists work diligently on their desktops while Yok Chivalry walks around observing, ready to give advice and technical support.
Sil Animation Studio is where many popular local computer-animated clips – like mini-series Little Yak and the famous 3D game Angkor: Rise of Heroes, which was showcased at the Global Game Exhibition G-Star 2018 in Busan, South Korea last November – were produced from scratch.
Chivalry, who hails from Kampot province, gained a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Banking from the National University of Management in 2009. Despite having a degree that could almost guarantee him a comfortable and steady living, he decided to pursue his passion for art.
He studied traditional art at Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture in Phnom Penh for five years, with many twists and turns following in his path towards producing digital art.
The self-taught digital artist was an early bird in picking up the necessary skills when the Kingdom had very few people able to create digital art and animation.
The 30-year-old founder of Sil Animation Studio (pictured, Pha Lina) said: “I am a self-taught digital 2D and 3D artist. With over seven years in the mobile gaming industry, I’ve worked on a wide range of mobile 2D and 3D games.”
Starting as digital artist and producer, Chivalry later became co-founder and creative director at the capital’s Osja Studio before establishing his own studio in May 2016.
Sil Animation Studio – the Khmer word sil can be translated as magic or art – was founded not just to produce animated clips for profit. The company’s philosophy is to focus on producing world-class imagery using highly skilled artists and cutting edge technology.
Among the studio’s work is Little Yak. The animated series features two little yaks – yak is a mythical creature in Cambodian folklore that translates as giant or ogre – as its main protagonists, with three other little yaks as recurring characters.
It is the first Cambodian animated series to appeal to children and adults alike, with its colourful images, catchy music and sense of humour – even though the characters do not speak.