Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive National Computer Board Speech - Launch of VERSE Visual Arts Exhibition

Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive
National Computer Board
Speech - Launch of VERSE Visual Arts Exhibition
Singapore, 14 May 1999

Mr. Alan Rubenstein, Vice President of LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The Multimedia Hollywood of Asia

1. I am happy to join you this evening at the visual arts exhibition put together by the graduating students from the School of Multimedia Art. The students have chosen "VERVE" as the theme of this exhibition. Verve reflects the invigorating feeling of life and vitality, which can be expressed through the multimedia art medium. Verve also reflects the active mental and physical forcefulness related to the zest and liveliness of the multimedia industry.

2. Let me do some "verving" and take a peek into the future to where technology might take us. Special effects wizard, John, logs on to his graphics machine one morning, only to receive a priority voicemail from his film producer regarding the new science fiction movie that they have completed. It turns out that there has been a mistake in the animation of the movement of the dinosaurs. John's problem is that the film has been distributed worldwide for a simultaneous premier in 2 hours' time!

3. In today's world, there will be little John can do about the situation. Let's take a look at how he would handle the problem in the broadband multimedia world of tomorrow. John quickly scans the virtual community from his machine for other special effects wizards to see who is online, and locates Susan and Harry. He shares his problem with these buddies. It turns out that Susan was working on a new software for a new science fiction movie that might be suitable to generate the T-Rex's correct movement. Quickly, Susan downloads the software plus clips of the movie to John. John then cranks up his dino animation programs on his own trusty graphics machine, and manages to pull-off the required re-animation within an hour.

4. Satisfied, John got his producer to review the re-animated changes online via video conferencing. Upon the producer's approval, John merges the changes in real-time with the film as it is being downloaded to all 4,000 cinemas worldwide just 15 minutes before the movie premier. "It is all in a typical day of work", thought John smugly as he scrambles to grab a bite.

5. Some of you may think the above story is science fiction. But I believe that Multimedia Art students at LASALLE-SIA, who are at the forefront of multimedia technology, know that the truth is sooner that you think. Globally, telecommunications companies are scrambling to put in a broadband network infrastructure capable of delivering video on demand. Movie theatres are starting to install digital projectors, and movies are being distributed from studios by satellite, cable or on special discs. Special effects are now commonplace in science fiction or action thrillers, for example, in recent hits such as "The Matrix" and the highly anticipated "Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace".

6. Multimedia technologies are advancing rapidly and are transforming working trends. Multimedia creation software is widely available today. Broadband delivery will be affordable soon. Digital video streaming and multimedia distribution will be commercialized. Video conferencing and telecommuting will become mainstream. Subcontracting and value-adding work globally will become the norm for knowledge workers.

7. We are living in exciting times. For many of us, we will be able to do many things that we might have difficulty doing before. For example, we can now do freelancing work on the Net. I call it e-lancing. We will be able to serve many organizations worldwide, working virtually from home, interacting with colleagues and customers over the Internet and in the global virtual communities of special effects and multimedia wizards.

8. In Singapore, we have been actively preparing our people for the changing times. In the new world that I have just described, you don't have to go physically to Hollywood to realise your dreams as a special effects wizard. We could create a "Multimedia Hollywood of Asia" in Singapore: Singapore is already a broadcasting hub of Asia, with the presence of major broadcasters here. We have started building a broadband multimedia delivery infrastructure, Singapore ONE, a few years back. Forward- looking schools like LASALLE-SIA have set up programmes like the Multimedia Art course to train the necessary talents. Many fund managers and venture capitalists are setting up offices here. All these initiatives are aimed at turning Singapore into a MAGNET for attracting knowledge-intensive industries such as multimedia and special effects production.

9. The important part is that you must believe and exploit the technology to plant "The Multimedia Hollywood of Asia" in Singapore instead of anywhere else. Films can be produced worldwide, be it in Hollywood, Hong Kong, Singapore or Canada, while having their multimedia and special effects jobs subcontracted to Singapore production houses. You could be at the forefront of the future global knowledge-worker: "Situated locally, work globally".

10. Talents like you are highly demanded in a knowledge-based economy. A 1998 Snapshot Survey by the NCB in October 1998 indicated the industry demand for multimedia/Internet developers is projected to grow by 25% per year. However, to be a true leader and master in the field of multimedia, one must strive to be unique and creative, and take every advantage that technology has to offer. To excel, we must be different and better than the rest.

11. I was told that the 27 final year students put in lots of effort and commitment to showcase Verve in action. I congratulate you on your success up to now, and wish you all the best in your new career in the vibrant multimedia industry.

12. It's now my pleasure to declare the VERVE Visual Arts Exhibition open.