Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is launching a SGD5 million ($3.6 million) virtual production Innovation Fund.
The fund was announced by Singapore’s Chief Minister of State for Communications and Information, Tan Kiat How, at the opening of the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and Screen Singapore on Wednesday. It is designed to help the local media industry develop the capabilities to take advantage of virtual production technology. The technology uses LED screens to display realistic background environments for TV or movie scenes, powered by a game engine, so the camera can capture actors and visual effects in real time. Production will no longer be dependent on location, road closures, location fees and permits, as well as weather, stage construction, and space rental.
IMDA will implement a two-pronged approach to develop these capabilities. The first strand is a partnership with the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) to tailor the school’s certificate in virtual production course to meet the needs of the Singaporean industry. Fifteen speakers, trainers and professionals from the Singaporean media industry will receive hands-on training at NFTS’s virtual production facilities and will attend virtual conferences from December 2022 to April 2023.
Additionally, Aux Media, a company specializing in creating immersive experiences in Singapore, is having a showcase at ATF to demonstrate how virtual production can add value to creative storytelling. And guest speakers from virtual production companies XON Studios, ROE Creative Display, and Disguise will give hands-on demos and cover topics ranging from best practices in virtual production workflow to creative applications of various technologies in storytelling.
The second prong is to invest in production and capacity building for Singaporean companies and talent, where IMDA will support local companies to experiment with virtual production to realize their creative vision for short-form content such as music videos, short films and commercials for brand. Until February 15, companies can submit their proposed content concepts and IMDA will finance up to 50% of the cost of selected projects.
IMDA is also collaborating with epic games, creator of the real-time 3D creation tool, Unreal Engine, to run an industry challenge starting in Q1 2023. The challenge will encourage companies to experiment with and use Unreal Engine for virtual production. Teams with shortlisted projects will receive mentoring and training from Epic, and prize money from IMDA to support content production.
At the event, Tan highlighted Singapore’s “globally connected media ecosystem for telling Asian stories to the world.” “I welcome partners from around the world to collaborate with us and take advantage of Singapore’s connectivity not only with Asia to the rest of the world as well,” Tan said.
Justin Ang, Deputy CEO of Media, Innovation, Communications and Marketing at IMDA, said: “The development of virtual production technology in recent years now allows us to create visual effects in real time without the physical production of the stage and with that , overcome the limitations of space, scale and complexity. The impossible can be made possible, limited only by the imagination of our filmmakers. We are excited to see more innovative and compelling stories result from the use of virtual production to strengthen Singapore’s position as a hub for intellectual property and content creation.”
Dean Reinhard, Epic Games Evangelist and Senior Technical Account Manager, added: “Despite its size, there is a wealth of incredible creative talent in Singapore, and tools like Unreal Engine are essential to help filmmakers and production studios today to reimagine storytelling and create. impressive images in real time. We are delighted to be working with IMDA to help train and support these local talents to maximize the use of these incredibly powerful tools and resources available to them.”
The inaugural event also saw Yeh Chien-ee, president of RX Asia Pacific, which is producing ATF this year, announce a 2023 animation field makeover. In collaboration with Creative Europe and Ties That Bind, the animation field will have a laboratory component led by an experienced curator. There will also be a market for animation projects with European and Asian decision makers, with an equal number of projects from Asia and Europe with the aim of promoting collaboration between the two regions.