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Singapore gets animated

Students may consider this island city-state to hone their animation skills because it is fast growing as an Asian hub reports Pranab Ghosh

education Updated: Dec 08, 2010 09:21 IST
Pranab Ghosh

Singapore is fast developing into an animation hub and it is in keeping with the vision of the island city-state’s government to turn it into a “global digital studio”. MNCs like Lucasfilm Animation, Double Negative, Ubisoft, a major game company, Koei, Southern Star etc have set up their production studios in Singapore. Then there are local animation and interactive media companies like Sparky Animation, Omens Studio, Monstrou Studio, all of which are into producing animation content for television. “At present the size of Singapore’s animation market is small. Productions done here are mainly for the international market/clients,” says Ahmad Al-Mahir Bin Abu Bakar, course manager-cum-senior lecturer, Singapore Polytechnic, where students can enroll for a diploma in animation just after completing their school (Class X) education.

The prospects are bright. “Singapore can become a key player in the computer/ videogame and interactive entertainment industry in the future,” says Janzo Francoeur, department chair of fine arts and animation, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Singapore. And this is why reputable institutions like DigiPen or New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, have set up their campuses in Singapore. They supply industry-ready graduates to the growing animation sector in Singapore.

While Digipen offers both graduate and postgraduate programmes in gaming and animation, TischAsia offers a masters of fine arts in animation and digital arts. It also offers courses in dramatic writing and international media producing — both two-year programmes and in filmmaking, a three-year MFA programme.

In an exclusive interview, Jean-Marc Gauthier, chair of animation and digital arts, and associate arts professor, New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia, Singapore, talks about the prospects of animation studies in Singapore in general and at TischAsia in particular. Excerpts:

Why should an Indian student choose Singapore as a destination to study animation?
Singapore is at the centre of the biggest market in the world for animation. Educational institutions and the animation industry in Singapore do not miss a beat. The animation industry in Singapore has a strong demand for animators and technologists and the animation schools are raising the bar for quality.

TischAsia offers one of the best faculty and facilities in the region.

Which are the leading hubs of animation studies in the world and where does Singapore stand?
Some leading schools are in US, England, France, Germany and China. Singapore is raising the bar very high for quality and will emerge soon as a place to create original content for the Asia market. Between India and China, Singapore is in the centre of the biggest market in the world for animation.

Educational institutions and the animation industry in Singapore do not miss a beat. The animation industry in Singapore has a strong demand for animators and technologists.

How does an international/Indian student stand to gain from this centre of education from the point of view of international exposure and future employment?
Indian students have often said that TischAsia offers the best of two worlds — Asia and the US. This is a learning environment that is based on production.

Students “learn how to learn” because they need to question how to produce animation in an environment which is very competitive and changes very quickly.

Students open up to the rest of the world and see the world differently by collaborating constantly with students from all countries. They learn how to work with their classmates from Korea, Turkey, China, Europe, US… who will become tomorrow’s leaders in their own country. Students create a unique network of animators, filmmakers, producers, writers that will help them during their professional life.

When was TischAsia established in Singapore and with what objective?
In 2007, the school opened New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia and offers three master of fine arts degrees from the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television: animation and digital arts, dramatic writing, film, or international media producing. The curriculum at Tisch School of the Arts Asia is based on the principles of great storytelling, and is identical to the curriculum offered at the school’s campus in New York. All instruction is in English. On completion of the programme, students will earn the prestigious New York University Master of fine arts degree.

What is the kind of education that a student gets?
Students are trained to be decision-makers, leaders in their field and to be independent thinkers. In addition to the animation faculty from US, New Zealand and Europe, they work with the top professionals during the master classes at TischAsia. Students develop their own vision on production, digital and traditional technologies for the next 10 years. We teach and advise students to choose an area of specialisation. Second-year students tend to develop a specialisation or a personal type of production through specific courses.

Which course/s is/are most favored by the Indians?
Storytelling, interactive 3D animation.