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Upping Their Game

Filipino animators are already Hollywood stars. Now, local digital artists are also making bestselling games
By Nicai de Guzman |

Synergy88 partners with schools to bridge the gap between the local industry and international standards

 

The booming digital entertainment industry has paved the way for graphic artists, animators and game developers to seek employment abroad. Big studios like Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios are known to employ Filipinos who have worked on international blockbusters such as Finding Dory, the Toy Story series, Monsters University and more.

 

Despite their success overseas, some of these Filipino animators and digital artists have always wanted to help in the advancement of the local industry. Not only have they been very vocal about this, but they are regular attendees and speakers in conferences here in the country to inspire a new generation of digital entertainers. Helping with this cause is the Synergy88 Group of Companies, a Manila-based creative digital solutions studio that provides a wide range of services for the production of games and non-game applications across diverse platforms.

 

The group has various initiatives such as partnerships with schools to bridge the gap between the local industry and international standards. "This year, the group invited VIP animators for the annual Animahenasyon, the animation festival and competition,
including Erick Pangilinan, a well-known art director of game developer Naughty Dog, and Carlos Pineda, a game designer and animator at Respawn Entertainment, whose major works include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty: Ghosts.

 

Jackeline Chua, Managing Director and founder of Synergy88 Philippines, says the digital entertainment industry is flourishing with the rising influence and prevalence of mobile digital media, which includes games, apps, streamed videos and social media, to name a few.

 

“Content creators are popping up left and right, with content consumers generally being anyone with access to the internet,” she says. “This vast market generally contributes to the increasing interest in content creation, creating a loop that grows the market organically and virally.”

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Synergy88 believes the digital entertainment industry is flourishing with the rising influence and prevalence of mobile digital media

 

Challenges and Opportunities 

However, Chua cautions that, as with any industry, digital entertainment has its fair share of challenges.

 

“Technological advancements always exceed the demands of the suppliers' needs and wants, while suppliers try to keep up with new trends and advancements in technology,” she explains.

 

But Chua adds that the constant evolution of both technology and consumer demands, though challenging, has been the driving force of innovation in the industry. The question that people in the digital entertainment industry and tech providers is asking is how to make use of these new technologies while making sure they don't spend too much time in development?

 

It’s something that the industry is trying to constantly address. The good thing is that the digital entertainment industry is very diverse and versatile.

 

“Digital media is very prevalent and has penetrated our daily lives, with social media being the biggest influencer,” Chua says. “Brands can harness the power of digital content via social media, apps and games to make their brands more interactive with their target audience.”

 

This is where Synergy88’s work comes in and opportunities seem boundless. Chua believes platforms such as VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) are trends that people will be seeing a lot more of in 2017.

 

“With VR goggles and AR-compatible mobile devices becoming more affordable, more and more developers are creating content for both,” she says.

 

Accordinng to Synergy 88, about 90 percent of animation work in the US is outsourced to Asia, with the Philippines being one of the countries tapped

 

Sharing talent abroad

According to Chua, about 90 percent of animation work in the US is outsourced to Asia, with the Philippines being one of the countries tapped due to the existing talent pool and willingness to learn new technologies to make production faster and cleaner.

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Currently, the roster of Filipino talents joining or working for big studios is impressive and is still growing. The names include Paul Abadilla of Disney-Pixar hit Finding Dory; Ruben Aquino, who worked on projects such as The Princess and the Frog and Lilo and Stitch; and Armand Serrano who worked at Sony and became part of the team that created Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. There’s also Josie Trinidad, the story artist for Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and The Princess and the Frog; Bobby Pontillas who offered his skills on Frozen, Big Hero 6, Wreck-it Ralph, Rio and Ice Age 4; and many more.

 

“We foresee that this trend of outsourcing to Asia will continue in 2017,” Chua says.

 

For game developers, the tide is luckily going their way as well. Filipino game developers are making their mark overseas as well as locally. There are developers such as Derrick Mapagu whose firm Most Played Games created Flippy Bottle Extreme that became a global hit. Kooapps, a local mobile gaming company, has also been recognized worldwide for its educational gaming apps. 

 

“Globally, gaming alone is a $99.6-billion industry with an 8.5 percent year-on-year growth and the Asia Pacific territory contributing $46.6 billion. Revenue contribution from the gaming industry from the Asia Pacific is expected to increase to 47.2 percent in 2017,” Chua adds.

 

What Chua and the rest of the Synergy 88 team would like to do is to continue sharing the good news that the digital entertainment industry is alive and well in the Philippines.

 

She advises students who are interested to enter this industry to enroll in a school that offers specialized courses in digital entertainment – whether it’s animation or game development. That way, they get a taste of the theory behind the practice.

 

“Do not close your doors to learning other skills needed in the industry,” she says. “Never forget that at the end of the day, this is still a business, so a marketing or business background will help them go far in this industry.”

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Nicai de Guzman is the marketing head of Rising Tide, a technology solutions company. She is also the Manila bureau manager of Probe Media Foundation's Mulat Pinoy-Kabataan News Network and a regular contributor for SPOT.ph. Follow her on Twitter, @nicaideguzman, and LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicaideguzman

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