Payut Ngao-krachang, Father of Thai Animation

The story of "Thailand's Walt Disney" who pioneered animated films in the 1950s

Clapper board and Cellulose film of "Sudsakorn" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Moving pictures

Some of Payut's paintings that make up the animation "Sudsakorn".

Sudsakhon 03 (2021-12-21) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Sudsakorn and his mythical steed.

Sudsakhon 01 (2021-12-21) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

A scene from "Sudsakorn".

Sudsakhon 02 (2021-12-21) by Thai Film Archive and Payut NgaokrachangThai Film Archive

The vibrant lines and colours.

Sketch design "Sudsakorn" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

A drawing of "Sudsakorn".

Payut Ngao-krachang (2021-11-10) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Payut Ngao-krachang

Payut was born on April 1, 1929, in the coastal province of Prachuab Kirikhan. As a child, he practiced drawing on sand using discarded crab's claws and twigs. He loved Thai-style characters, though his exposure to early American cartoons also shaped his aesthetic sensibility.

Payut working on animation (2021-11-12) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

The Inspiration

By chance Payut met Saneh Klaikluen, a legendary painter who harbored a dream of making Thai animation. Saneh told Payut to look him up if the boy happened to come to the capital.

Sketch draft of Sudsakorn (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Where It All Began

Around 1944, Payut came to the capital to study at Poh Chang Art Academy. He went around looking for Saneh but found out that the painter had already passed away without realizing his dream. 

In search of proper technique, Payut met a printer who told him that Saneh had drawn images on sheets of cellulose to compose a cartoon story. Payut then began experimenting with discarded X-ray films from hospitals. 

Payut kept honing his skills and, at the age of 26, succeeded in completing the first Thai animated film, a 7-minute short called "Amazing Incidents". The 16mm silent film was screened in 1955 and displays a smooth, flowing hand-drawn images depicting a street scene in Bangkok, with character style that merges Thai features with Disney-like visual gags.

Character design "The Policeman" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Drawing on cels, or cellulose transparent sheets

For each second in the film, Payut needed 24 hand-drawn cels.

The replica of metal can of film "The Miracle" (2021-12-21) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Film can     







The film can that stored the original 16mm reel of "Amazing Incidents". 

Payut and USIS (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Going forward

The success of "Amazing Incidents" caught the eye of his employer, the US Information Service (USIS). In the late 1950s, Payut received a scholarship to study animation in Japan, where he further developed his craftsmanship and creative horizon.

Payut Ngaokrachang working on animation (2021-11-12) by Thai Film Archive, Payut Ngaokrachang, and animationThai Film Archive

Meanwhile, Payut made several animated films for USIS. One of them, the 1957 "The New Adventures of Hanuman", remains a classic work from the age of anti-communism propaganda war.

In the 1960s, Payut left USIS and founded his own advertising company, called Triple Film. He made several important, era-defining TV commercials, including the one featuring Thai Daimaru Department Store. 

Another commercial made by Payut

The Shooting Stand (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Camera stand for cel animation.

During his stay in Japan, Payut familiarized himself with an important tool: the camera stand for cel animation.

The Shooting Stand (2021-12-21) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Animation stand

The camera stand captures each cel and creates motion pictures from a series of still images. 

The shooting stand "Sudsakorn" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Designing his own stand

Back in Thailand, Payut designed several animation equipment himself, since imported tools were too expensive. 

He designed his own version of camera stand and commissioned a local metal factory to produce it. It was not a perfect replica, but more than enough to let him complete Thailand's first feature-length animated film in 1979. The film is based on a Thai folk story, "Sudsakorn". 

Storyboard of "Sudsakorn" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

The storyboard of "Sudsakorn"

A storyboard is instrumental in making "Sudsakorn".

A behind-the-scene documentary on the making of "Sudsakorn".

Poster of Sudsakorn (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Thailand's first feature-length animated film

Payut worked with Jirabanterng Company to produce "Sudsakorn". Payut was responsible for the entire creative process of the film.

The road of "Sudsakorn"














Payut asked Prasith Pimol to write the script for him. "Sudsakorn" is based on 3 scenes of the mythical Thai folk story: The birth of Sudsakorn; his arrival at City of Karawek; and Sudsakorn's quest to find his father.

The award of "Sudsakorn" (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Sudsakorn, the pride of Thai cartoon.     

Payut painted 66,000 images to complete the 82-minute "Sudsakorn". The film premiered on April 13, 1979, at Athens Cinema. It made 2 million baht, a major hit back then.

Payut Ngao-krachang (2021-11-12) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Payut and monkey (2021-11-12) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Payut Ngaokrachang award medal (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

Payu Ngao-krachang Medal

Thai Film Archive hosts the annual Thai Short Film and Video Festival. One of the competitive categories is animated film. Every year, the winner receives the Payut Ngao-krachang Medal, in honor of his pioneering spirit. 

Payut's interview (2021-11-12) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

The final years

After retiring from making cartoons, Payut kept his camera stand at his house and proudly showed it to visitors, especially later-generation animators and students.

Payut and his animation stand (2021-11-20) by Thai Film ArchiveThai Film Archive

The trailblazer

Payut Nga-krachang died on May 27, 2010, at the age of 81. The trailblazer of Thai cartoon left a rich legacy and remains an inspiration to animators until today. 

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