Going Global: Pixotope’s Virtual Production Education Program Onboards Singapore Institution

Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) School of Film & Media Studies (FMS) unveils an immersive on-campus space, the M:idea Playground, alongside a series of strategic industry partnerships geared towards equipping students with cutting-edge virtual production skills and immersive storytelling skills for projection mapping and technical theatre.

Graced by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Sim Ann, the event marked NP’s initiative in pioneering virtual production training, one of the most sought-after skills in content creation.

According to a projection by Fortune Business Insights, the global virtual production market is set to expand to US$7.19 billion by 2029. Locally, the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) has announced a $5 million fund to support the adoption of virtual production as part of Singapore’s push to transform the creative process of storytelling, using computer-generated imagery, as well as other technologies to create realistic environments and effects on a virtual set in real-time.

Every year, more than 200 FMS students will stand to benefit from the new M:idea Playground and curriculum offerings. From 2024, all Year 2 students from the Diploma in Media Post-Production (MPP) will undergo the first-of-its-kind virtual production training as part of its core curriculum. Final-year students from the Film, Sound & Video and Mass Communication diplomas will also have the opportunity to work on virtual production projects for their capstone module. Notably, the launch of these curriculum offerings will round off the suite of multi-platform skills that FMS students gain during their course of study.

To meet the rising interest and demand of adult learners in acquiring virtual production skills, FMS will also run, for the second time, its Virtual Events Production short course in July. In the current landscape where virtual and hybrid events have become mainstream, the three-day programme will equip learners with the planning and execution know-how to incorporate virtual production in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.

Re-imagining industry-real learning with the launch of immersive space

The newly launched M:idea Playground is a dedicated, on-campus experimental space that is set to elevate hands-on learning through tech-enabled tools to generate innovative storytelling. Other than virtual production, FMS students will be able to use the space to explore AR/VR and livestreaming projects; stage live events and performances using large-format projection mapping techniques; as well as create digital art. The facility will also foster collaboration among students from the different courses.

Lim Kok Kiang, Principal & CEO of NP, says: “Digital transformation in the media and entertainment industries has opened up new opportunities for us to create compelling content and experiences. With the new M:idea Playground and virtual production-focused curriculum, we will help our learners develop multi-platform capabilities. With technology-enabled production formats set to continue to redefine the media industry, it becomes even more crucial for us to work alongside industry partners to keep our curriculum in the forefront of these exciting developments.”

Nurturing future-ready students through strategic industry partnerships

As part of NP’s drive to make industry pervasive in curriculum, FMS is collaborating with Singapore-based multi-studio hub, Aux Media Group. Aux Media Group plays a role in co-developing and co-assessing the Virtual Production module and capstone projects. In 2022, under the guidance of Aux Media Group, a group of MPP and FSV final-year students produced and directed a short film entitled “Wastelanders” using virtual production technologies. It also saw the inaugural batch of FMS students embarking on enriching internships at Aux Media Group.

“As the pioneer in Extended Reality (XR) and In-Camera Visual Effects (ICVFX) for virtual production, we have seen leaps and bounds in the technology. There is no better time than now to promote and train future talents in this new technology that is here to stay. Virtual Production will be a pillar in the next decade for not just the filmmaking sector but the entire broadcast, media and entertainment sector. Together with Ngee Ann Polytechnic, we are excited to grow the virtual production industry for the next generation,” says Choong Chyi Kei, CEO of Aux Media Group.

NP will also be partnering with Pixotope, an international technology company specialising in the development of mixed reality content. Through this partnership, students will have access to Pixotope software tools and solutions for creating immersive and interactive content. For instance, students will be able to use the flagship product of Pixotope, a real-time 3D graphics engine that enables the creation of high-quality AR and VR experiences for a variety of platforms, including live events, and film and television production. With the potential to integrate real and virtual elements using advanced camera tracking and rendering technologies, its technology allows viewers to enjoy a more immersive viewing experience. Industry professionals from Pixotope will also co-assess projects by Year 2 MPP students.

“We are honoured to partner with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to continue our global expansion of the Pixotope Education Program,” says Andrew Tan, Vice President, APAC at Pixotope. “By combining our powerful tools and network of industry experts with NP’s comprehensive curriculum and dedicated faculty, students will embark on a transformative journey, acquiring the technical proficiencies and artistic vision to thrive in this rapidly evolving industry. As Pixotope is committed to increase the accessibility to virtual production, this collaboration is timely. We are excited to nurture the next generation of virtual production talent by equipping them with the tools to create immersive content that pushes the boundary of possibility.”

Another partner, The Star Performing Arts Centre, will provide their expertise as a venue provider to fuel the integration between art and technology through technical theatre, an art form that integrates different elements such as lighting, sound, props and costumes. Through this collaboration, students will have access to a large-scale external venue where they can marry digital technologies and live performance to stage immersive performances.

“While the live events industry was severely disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for live shows has skyrocketed recently, presenting both unique opportunities and challenges,” says Ong Sian Hwa, Centre Director of The Star Performing Arts Centre. “This partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic will provide students with the opportunity to explore the latest technologies to stage immersive experiences, equipping them with the skills to thrive in the live events sector. Together, we can co-create new techniques, explore innovative approaches, and shape the future of this industry.”

The launch of the M:idea Playground and new curriculum offerings is held as part of FMS’s one-week M:idea Fest aimed at exposing its more than 600 current students to emerging trends in the media industry. Featuring a keynote session titled “The realities of being a multi-hyphenate media professional”, the M:idea Fest programme also includes talks by experts from leading media organisations – many of whom are FMS alumni – and a hackathon with problem statements from industry partners.

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