First Houdini-based VFX Studio Opens in Singapore

Singapore's visual effects industry is set to receive a huge boost, with the setting up of a studio to train specialists and develop related high-end software technologies.

The NYP-SESI Visual Effects Studio, a collaboration between Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and Canadian software developer Side Effects Asia Pacific (SESI-AP), will train and produce talent in visual effects, games and interactive digital media for Singapore and the region.

This milestone collaboration makes NYP the first education institution in Singapore to conduct training in Houdini, a 3D animation and visual effects software as well as two time Academy-Awards winner for Technical Achievements. Houdini is a leading industry software used in more than 300 feature films and motion pictures including block-busters SUPERMAN RETURNS, SPIDER-MAN 3 and THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

Students from NYP's School of Interactive & Digital Media (SIDM), particularly those taking the new Diploma in Digital Visual Effects, will be trained in the Houdini software.

This collaboration also allows NYP students and staff to undergo internship at SESI studios in the USA, Canada and Singapore. A select number will also attend an intensive Houdini boot camp in SESI Los Angeles, USA. With the support of the Media Development Authority of Singapore, the first batch of students (Singaporeans and PRs) will leave for the overseas attachment in Los Angeles in March 2009.

Set up at a cost of more than US$1 million, the studio aims to conduct R&D and undertake relevant projects to propel the growth of Singapore's visual effects, games and interactive digital media industry.

Daniel Tan, NYP's Director of the School of Interactive & Digital Media said, "The value of this initiative is in the partnership. With Side Effects' strengths in visual effects know-how and extensive reach to top Vfx companies, we will continue to grow in our IDM expertise and provide the necessary opportunities to enhance our students' creative and technical abilities. Students embarking on the new Diploma in Digital Visual Effects and the Diploma in Digital Media Design (Animation) will be sought after to meet the industry's growing need for visual effects specialists. NYP is pleased to form this important partnership with SESI-AP."

"Being a leader in digital media requires more than great tools like Houdini. It starts with education and training," said Kim Davidson, President and CEO of Side Effects Software Inc. "Nanyang Poly has a solid and proven history of providing digital animation training and this makes them the perfect partner for Side Effects."

"The establishment of NYP-SESI Visual Effects Studio will spur the growth of digital media and entertainment businesses as well as build infocomm capabilities in Singapore," said Thomas Lim, Director, Education, Learning, Digital Media & Entertainment, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). "This is in line with IDA's efforts in the interactive digital media sector under the iN2015 Masterplan by using infocomm to transform key economic sectors in Singapore and fostering the creation of innovative services and knowledge capital by 2015."

NYP's effort supports IDA's goal of seeding new local talent in harnessing the visual effects technology to potentially fill the need for highly specialized or skilled professionals in Vfx that will be in demand in years to come.

The studio's objective will be in line with the Polytechnic's Diploma in Digital Visual Effects, one of NYP's ten new courses to be launched in April 2009. The new diploma will train students in artistic and technical skills needed for the visual effects industry. They will also be taught programming and scripting techniques that go into the creation of digital effects for Hollywood type movies and video games. SESI-AP will provide job opportunities for students after they graduate, by connecting them with companies worldwide.

Also in the pipeline is for the studio to conduct training and upgrading programs for industry professionals, which NYP and SESI-AP are currently exploring.

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