Driving growth in entertainment, digital media

The Interactive and Digital Media sector, nurtured by the Economic Development Board, is a hub in Asia for the creation and commercialisation of media content for the world. It holds exciting opportunities as demand grows. In the fifth of a seven-part series, Arti Mulchand profiles three people working in the sector.

When the new Avengers movie hits big screens here next year, it will add to Singapore's Media and Digital Entertainment (MDE) industry's rapidly growing list of credits.

The team from Lucasfilm Singapore, which worked on the film, has also contributed to projects such as animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The company's digital effects arm, Industrial Light & Magic, has its own list of credits, including Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

Like Lucasfilm, other A-list entertainment and animation stars have also made Singapore their base for activities, from animation and post-production, to editing and sales.

Among them is visual effects studio Double Negative, while traditional media outlets are also sharpening their focus on digital, such as broadcasters Disney and Viacom, as well as publisher Pearson.

Being here allows them to take advantage of opportunities in the region, says Mr Pee Beng Kong, director of infocomms and media at the Economic Development Board (EDB). "There is a sizeable consumer market for digital media and content due to the rise of a large and increasingly affluent middle-class in Asia.

"Singapore is best placed and a natural location for MDE companies to take root when looking to access this important audience."

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2013-2017 lists China, India and Indonesia among the five fastest growing markets in the world for digital media and content.

It is estimated that they will grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 per cent over the next four years.

Also getting in on the action are game developers.

The naval battle gameplay for Assassin's Creed 3 (2012) and Ghost Recon Online (2012) were, for example, created by Ubisoft Singapore, a subsidiary of French game development studio Ubisoft.

Japanese brand names in game development like Bandai Namco, Koei Tecmo and DeNA are also here.

Within the MDE industry, interactive and digital media - which includes video games, animation, online/mobile media and new forms of digital entertainment - is a subset that is growing especially quickly.

It is targeted to generate 10,000 new jobs and create $10 billion worth of value-add by 2018.

"With the emerging trends of digitalisation, multi-screens and evolving business models, there are strong opportunities for Singapore to further strengthen the media sector," Mr Pee says.

Talent development has been an important part of ensuring continued growth in the sector.

Degree and diploma programmes in games, animation and special effects are offered by the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Nanyang and Singapore polytechnics.

The Singapore campus of the DigiPen Institute of Technology offers degrees in areas such as game design and digital art.

Companies are also doing their part, with Lucasfilm nurturing aspiring computer graphic artists keen on careers in visual effects and animation. More than 100 Singaporeans have been put through its Jedi Masters Programme over the past six years.

The EDB has also developed infrastructure, including clustering media companies around Fusionopolis and Mediapolis at One North, and promoting a vibrant R&D environment.

It allows for an "integrated ecosystem" to form, promoting interaction and partnerships within the sector, says Mr Pee, who notes: "Through it, compelling content can be created, commercialised and distributed to the region and beyond."

This article was first published on Nov 10, 2014.

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