Lau then started to discover the meaning of being an animator. During the Higher Diploma graduation show, he broadcast his work “Noodle Battle”, a story about the ends of the same noodle, each boasting of being the longest.
After it was uploaded, a commenter left positive comments, praised the video as humorous and said it had made him develop an interest in the animation industry. This made Lau realise that, “although I was a loser in the public exams, I could still develop in another area after two years. Gradually, I could become a man to inspire dreams.”
After the success of “Noodle Battle”, Lau enrolled on another course, this time for a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media on the same campus. For his second final year project, he aimed higher. He wanted a product that could last beyond graduation, and looked back to a sketch he had made in a secondary school textbook for inspiration. That was how the Galaman series started.
Becoming an animator was by no means an easy task. According to Lau, Hong Kong does not really have an animation industry. He says there was no company for him to join and the local television broadcasters rarely broadcast local productions. He had no choice but to make his own and rely on internet platforms to show and distribute them.
On top of that, he could not find any local learning materials. For instance, it was very difficult to find samples and tutorials to show how the shape of the mouth changes when making the sounds for Cantonese speech. In order to lip sync the dialogue to his drawings, Lau took pictures of the mouth when speaking the lines and drew each frame accordingly. “It took a good week to draw the mouths,” he says.
There were other non-technical problems too. Lau’s family strongly opposed his career; they wanted him to find a job. He says the fact he did not find a job after graduation was a skeleton in the closet for his family.
He also received disparaging comments from some of those who viewed his work, not least from those who accused him of hankering after commercial success with Galaman. Others said Lau should learn more from Japanese animators. But Lau takes it all in his stride. “They bothered to leave a comment to criticise me,” he says. “It proves I am worth it.”
Business opportunities and public recognition followed the awards and things began to change for Lau. His family started to support him. “Sometimes, they use it to show off, it’s like turning from a family shame to a selling point,” he laughs.
But even more than his family’s acceptance, Lau is more delighted to see people increasingly accept the style of drawing he insists on sticking to. He intentionally uses “ugly” things such as armpits and nose hairs in his characters because he thinks these things are neutral in nature, but are unfairly tagged as disgusting.