To ensure that the local media industry remains competitive as the international partner of choice to create premium IP, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in Singapore has announced the launch of a SGD$5 million ($3.68 million) Virtual Production Innovation Fund to support the local media industry to develop capabilities needed to harness virtual production technology.

IMDA said in a statement on Wednesday that virtual production technology uses LED screens to display realistic background environments for television or movie scenes powered by video game engine so that the camera is able to capture actors and visual effects in real-time. Production will no longer need to be dependent on location, road closures, location fees and permits as well as the weather, set construction and space rental.

According to IMDA, this technology presents a unique opportunity for Singapore to overcome our physical limitations such as limited sites for on-location shooting and space to build extensive sets.

Virtual production will transform the creative process of storytelling as storytellers can recreate locations from the past or any imaginable environment, allowing them to produce content that they were not able to before.

There is also strong signal from global media players that virtual production technology will be widely used in film and television production and will become the industry norm in the coming years, which adds impetus for the country’s media industry to adopt virtual production.

To prepare media industry for the future, IMDA will undertake a two-prong approach to build capabilities in virtual production so that the media companies and talent can keep up with global production practices to remain competitive.

To train media professionals to use this technology, IMDA has partnered the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the United Kingdom to tailor the school’s Certificate in Virtual Production course to meet its industry’s needs.

Fifteen Singapore media lecturers, trainers and industry professionals will receive hands-on training at NFTS’s virtual production facilities as well as attend lectures conducted virtually from December 2022 to April 2023.

Meanwhile, a series of industry-led masterclasses and workshops, conducted by international virtual production experts, will be rolled out over the next twelve months.

For a start, Aux Media, a company specialising in creating immersive experiences in Singapore, held a showcase at the ATF Market to demonstrate how virtual production can add value to creative storytelling.

Guest speakers from virtual production front-runners XON Studios, ROE Creative Display, and Disguise, will conduct hands-on demonstrations and cover topics ranging from best practices in virtual production workflow to creative applications of various technologies in storytelling.

IMDA will also support local companies to experiment with virtual production to realise their creative vision for short-form1 content, such as music videos, short films, brand commercials, amongst others.

From now until February 15, 2023, companies can submit their proposed content concepts to IMDA. Proposals will be evaluated based on their creative appeal and ability to best use virtual production technology to bring their project’s creative vision to fruition.

IMDA will fund up to 50 percent of the project’s cost for selected proposals. By supporting these projects, the local industry will deepen their understanding on how virtual production can help them lift their creativity to the next level and produce even more interesting content. 

In addition, IMDA is collaborating with Epic Games, creator of the advanced real-time 3D creation tool, Unreal Engine, which powers games like Fortnite, to run an industry challenge.

Commencing in the first quarter of 2023, the challenge will encourage companies to experiment with and use Unreal Engine for virtual production. Teams with shortlisted projects will receive direct mentorship and training from Epic, while also receiving prize money from IMDA to support content production.  

“The development of virtual production technology in recent years now allows us to create visual effects in real-time without physical set production 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 resulting from the use of virtual production to strengthen Singapore’s position as a hub for content and IP creation,” said Justin Ang, Assistant Chief Executive, Media, Innovation, Communications & Marketing, IMDA.

Epic Games Evangelist and Senior Technical Account Manager Dean Reinhard said that despite its size, there is an abundance of incredible creative talent in Singapore, and tools such as Unreal Engine are essential in helping filmmakers and production studios today reimagine storytelling and create stunning imagery in real time.

“We are thrilled to work with IMDA to help train and support these local talents on maximising the use of these incredibly powerful tools and resources available to them,” he added.

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