Hollywood may still be the world’s biggest film production location but, thanks to the likes of visual-effects company Double Negative, Singapore is fast becoming an Asian hub for the industry’s back-room operations. The London-headquartered firm opened an office here in 2009 with around 70 staff and now employs 230. Since then, the Singapore-based team has worked on visual effects for blockbusters such as The Bourne Legacy, Captain America and Iron Man 2.
Nathan McGuinness, Double Negative’s creative director, says the city manages to be both a “comfortable, safe place for business” and a haven for artists. Noting that his team comprises Singaporeans, regional talents and international artists, he likens his Singapore facility to “the UN of visual effects”. Among Double Negative’s upcoming work on the silver screen is the new Les Miserables musical. “From this island we’re providing visual effects to the biggest films in the world,” says BAFTA winner McGuinness. “That’s a pretty amazing situation to be in. We’re as busy as we would be anywhere else in the world.”
In association with Monocle, EDB brings to you a selection of people, places and products that make Singapore a nation that is punching far above its weight despite its relatively compact size and population (content first published in Monocle).
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT
Singapore's media sector has been performing strongly, posting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% between 1997 and 2008. In 2009, the industry contributed S$6.4 billion in value-added (VA) and S$23.9 billion revenue to the economy, and employed some 66,000 workers. Singapore's media sector consists of several industries, including TV broadcast and production; publishing and printing; film; music; as well as interactive and digital media.
Interactive and Digital Media – which includes video games, animation, online/mobile media and new forms of digital entertainment – has skyrocketed into a multi-billion dollar business. The global videogames industry (excluding hardware sales) is expected to swell from US$56 billion in 2010 to US$82 billion by 2015, with Asia registering the fastest growth, according to the PriceWaterhouse Coopers' Global Entertainment & Media Outlook.
Singapore's animation and games industries are seeing rapid expansion. Singapore is seeing an influx of leading digital media companies such as Tecmo-Koei, Lucasfilm, Double Negative, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. Local companies like Ratloop Asia, Sparky Animation and Scrawl Studios have also responded eagerly too, producing original content for export and entering strategic partnerships with international distributors.
According to Deloitte, Singapore's games and animation industries, together with online/mobile media, have demonstrated robust growth, posting a CAGR of 26% from 2006-2010. In 2010 it contributed $1.2 billion in VA and $1.5 billion revenue to the economy, and employed an estimated 11,000 workers.
Singapore is an ideal location for creating and deploying new content and for managing intellectual property (IP), as it has the best IP protection in Asia and a large, multilingual talent pool in both traditional and new media. Development and animation studios, and companies which provide game hosting will also find Singapore attractive due to the island’s large pool of graduates in IT and programming. For companies in the printing and publishing sector, Singapore is a nexus for Asian financial and professional news, and a cost-effective printing and distribution hub.
Singapore offers proximity and excellent connectivity to regional markets – markets that have a tremendous appetite for interactive media and digital media entertainment. As a cosmopolitan, urbanised Asian city-state, it offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultural influences. The government has also put in place policies to attract and retain talent from all over the world, creating a melting pot of creative talent for companies to tap into.
Since the 1990s, Singapore has attracted a number of global broadcasters to its shores. There are now a large number of major broadcasting networks uplinking their channels from Singapore to their regional audiences. These include Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, CNBC Asia Pacific and ESPN Star Sports. From broadcast, the sector has progressed into content production. One example is the 2011 AXN reality series "Cash Cab Asia". Produced by AZN, the project was filmed in Singapore, with post-production work undertaken by Active TV.
In December 2007, Technicolor of the US said it was partnering Singapore’s Infocomms Development Authority to set up a Digital Cinema Hub and Network Operations Centre. Both are firsts in Asia. This will offer digital cinema service and related management solution capabilities to the motion picture industry in Singapore and Asia-Pacific. A month before, an Interactive Digital Centre for 3D visualisation at Temasek Polytechnic was launched. It houses state-of-the-art 3D innovative technologies and laboratories for industry project development, training and research.
The presence of top specialty schools like DigiPen, excellent pedagogy within our local tertiary institutes, as well as opportunities to pursue overseas attachments with leading international interactive and digital media companies will help Singapore establish a world-class talent base. Together with the inflow of global talent, this results in diversity that is highly conducive to the generation of creative ideas.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- The size of Singapore’s media industry stood at over S$23.9 billion in revenue in 2009.
- In 2009, the industry employed more than 66,000 people and contributed S$6.4 billion in value-added.
- Over S$1 Billion in funds based out of Singapore to fund media projects here.
- Singapore is the Broadcast Hub of Asia. Major international cable and satellite broadcast networks such as ESPN Star Sports, Discovery, HBO, MTV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBC Universal and CNBC all have regional headquarters in Singapore. Demand from the international broadcasters based here has also helped to nurture a healthy TV production industry.
- Singapore has established a significant and stable publishing and printing industry. In the publishing industry, top companies like Wiley-Blackwell, Reed Elsevier, Pearson and McGraw Hill leverage on Singapore's experienced talent base and strong connectivity to manage business interests for the region. The printing & Reproduction of Recorded Media industry contributed nearly S$2.6 billion in output and more than S$1.3 billion of value-added in 2011.
- A new generation of local filmmakers are casting Singapore’s film industry into the international limelight. For example, the joint Singapore-Australian production “The Home Song Story” won the “Best Actress” and “Best Original Screenplay” awards at the 44th Golden Horse Awards. Films by director Eric Khoo have also participated in the Cannes Film Festival.
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