A Singaporean visual artist swims through dimensions following TikTok success

At left, a screengrab from the viral shark posing as a social distancing officer and its creator at right. Photos: Aundraj Jude
At left, a screengrab from the viral shark posing as a social distancing officer and its creator at right. Photos: Aundraj Jude

After years of hustling as a video editor, augmented reality artist Aundraj Jude found fame on TikTok making surreal videos of Singapore that later earned him a stint at Snapchat. 

The 29-year-old was the only person from Asia out of a group of nine people picked for a six-week residency that began three weeks ago to work on an interactive augmented reality Snapchat filter. The gig came true for Aundraj after spending months during the partial “circuit breaker” lockdown learning 3D animation and producing videos to millions of viewers on TikTok, one of which even fooled people into believing that Singapore had actually deployed animated sharks to become social distancing officers at train stations. 

“They saw my work and I guess they liked it and loved the AR aspect specifically,” Aundraj said during a recent interview with Coconuts about getting noticed by Snapchat. “[I]t’s always been a goal to work with a global brand like Snapchat. So when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to apply but I had no idea I’d even be able to get it.”

For his Snapchat project, Aundraj and his team are designing a filter that makes fish appear to jump off the ground when users point at them with their phones. 

“It’s honestly been an amazing experience to be surrounded by a community as huge as Snapchat, working with people who’ve been working with AR and 3D for many years, the amount of knowledge I’ve received is truly something I’m grateful for,” he said. 

The video editor juggles his time with the gig and his work at the Epitome Collective local production house, where he has worked on projects for brands like Singapore Airlines and Fanta.  

@assthrowknotPSA 🦈: Please maintain social distancing 🇸🇬. #fyp #covid_19 #socialdistancing #psa #publicserviceannouncement #shark #motiontracking #3d♬ original sound – Aundraj Jude

Sharks everywhere

Back in September, Aundraj caused quite the stir after posting a video of a shark carrying a loud hailer and cruising through the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and telling people to “maintain social distancing at all times.” Thousands flooded the comments asking whether it was a real initiative by the government even after Aundraj had added in the caption that it was his 3D work. But instead of setting the record straight, Aundraj sat back and let the conspiracy theories swirl online.  

“It was me trying to tap into what was happening around the world and the first thing that came to my mind, which I thought was funny, was if we saw a shark going around in a train station telling people to keep their distance,” Aundraj said, adding that his friend had called him about the number of people arguing in the comments over the authenticity of his video. 

“Some people even wanted confirmation from me. I literally wrote ‘visual artist’ on my profile, yes it’s fake. It’s also in the hashtags as ‘3D,’” he said. 

Aundraj stretched his creativity further with other videos where he featured a burned out humanoid dragging its feet across Orchard Road with smoke emanating from its back and another video showing a giant eyeball emerging creepily from the facade of the Mandarin Gallery mall. 

@assthrowknotGetting to the end of 2020 like 😷💨. #fyp #foryourpagesg #2020 #smoke #walking #motiongraphics #3d #singapore♬ original sound – Aundraj Jude

“After the thing with the shark I realized that there weren’t a lot of people who were doing kinda what I was doing on the scale on social media. It was normally on huge ads and never really online with just videos taken randomly,” he said. Aundraj’s online portfolio was proof that he was undoubtedly a fan of sharks after having incorporated the creature in at least three out of his nine TikTok videos. 

The hardest and “most ambitious” video Aundraj said he had made featured two sharks swimming around the iconic Marina Bay Sands with the words “wear your face mask.” It took him five days to edit and match the lightings from the building with the animation. 

@assthrowknotPSA 🦈: Wear your mask! 🇸🇬 ##fyp ##foryoupage ##vfx ##3d ##motiontracking ##covid_19 ##shark ##publicserviceannouncement♬ original sound – Aundraj Jude

‘I want to do a lot more’

Aundraj refined his 3D animation skills by compositing them onto real life footage of Singapore places earlier this year when everyone was practically stuck at home between April and June as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Aundraj said he picked the skill up a year ago mostly through YouTube tutorials when he came across works from Russian artist Stephan Khristoforov, better known as Brickspacer, who is popular for mashing up digital art with film. 

“His stuff is insane, pretty much the next level. He had one where he animated wolves doing pull ups and dips. The movements didn’t look lifelike at all, it looked bad but it was good because it was original,” he said.

“It’s not something anyone can do because he did it his way. To me, that’s the best version of art, when something is original and can be called your own.”

Aundraj would shoot at random Singapore locations at least 20 times to get different angles and movements before editing in motion graphic softwares such as Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. A video would take him from two to five days each.

“I wanted it to be in a backdrop of a Singapore scene, something relatable. I wanted to see if it’s something that people here would appreciate,” he said.

Multiple brand and artist collaborations are underway for Aundraj, who strives to ultimately bridge the gap between art and technology by creating more transcending art with other artists.

“In the production world, people want to put you in a box. [I’ve never liked that] because I feel like there’s so much potential [to evolve] and you’re putting someone in a box just because of how it is. I want to do a lot more. I will not stop creating and I will continue to find other people I can work with,” he said.

@assthrowknotSo👀ky October is here 🇸🇬 ##fyp ##foryoupage ##foryourpagesg ##singapore ##vfx ##3d ##motiontracking ##eyeball ##motiongraphics ##orchardroad♬ original sound – Aundraj Jude

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