By James Gough
K-Perak, which was established in 2007 by the Perak State government to provide infrastructure and facilities to ensure the delivery of information and knowledge to all layers of society, has seen its five initiatives bear fruit. One of the companies in its multimedia arm, Spacetoons Media Hub, a joint venture between the Perak State government and Dubai based Spacetoons International, has recently signed co-production agreements with US company SD Entertainment of Los Angeles USA (the producer of The Pink Panther Animated series and The Smurfs), Cyber Group of France and Sabine of Canada (a top French/Canadian animation distributor and production company). The deal with SD Entertainment will be to produce 52×11-minute pre-school animation series with the title Tiggy World which is guaranteed to be broadcast in the US.
Five Knowledge Initiatives Creating Paradigm Shifts
K-Perak with the K abbreviated from the word Knowledge, has five knowledge initiatives or K-initiatives: K-Government, K-Workers, K-Infrastructure, K-Society and K-Economy. Its tagline ‘From tin mines to MIND industries’ focuses on Multimedia Content, IT Outsourcing (SSO/BPO), New Media and Data Centre, Research, Development and Design.
According to K-Perak’s acting CEO En Saidon Puteh, going into its fifth year, the efforts of the company has begun to show results as evidenced by the recently signed co-production agreements mentioned in the foregoing page.
Its K-Government initiative has resulted in the introduction of Gerbang Mesra Rakyat a people friendly gateway to enable online applications.
Its K-Infrastructure initiative has seen an improved speed to access the state government portals while Internet penetration now covers 53.29% of all households in the state which “is above the national average,” added Saidon.
However, it is the K-Worker, K-Society and K-Economy initiatives that have made new strides at restructuring society that can best be described as ‘paradigm shifts’.
The K-Society Initiative encourages people to use ICT in their everyday lives.
This is the kampong project where every kampong has their own website and portal where the communities can communicate with each other. To achieve their goal, the K-Perak Team created a Facebook page www.facebook.com/webkampung and went round the state to train the Village Development Committees and village heads on how to use a computer.
The training was a basic 2-hour training teaching the villagers to create an e-mail and Facebook account whose administration was handed over the same day. According to Ms Norzalena Zakaria, the executive tasked to train and implement the initiative, the groundwork started last October and training was conducted since April this year.
There are over 2015 kampongs in the state of which training has been provided to 818 main kampongs and covers “even the Chinese and Indian villages”. Once trained, villagers have posted information about their villages and made complaints about their villages direct to government agencies.
Although the implementation is extensive she admitted that there are still problems with the infrastructure. To create awareness and bring users to share their issues, a carnival is planned at Arena Square Batu Gajah for September 28-30 this year. Additionally, it is hoped that the private sector will come forward to participate in this project.
The K-Worker initiative is a training provider for government offices, which has extended its training to create a talent pool in the area of 3D application, office productivity, design, photography and digital forensics, or anything to do with ICT, since end 2007. It offers three to four courses per month.
Students are mainly SPM school leavers from community colleges who are provided vocational training in 3D animation using blender and open source software programs to create animation products. One of the products which is currently in production is Perak Boy slated to be a television serial.
Students taking this course have a wide scope of jobs to enter, related to design fields such as landscaping, fashion modeling and also film animation. Since its start four years ago, over 4000 students have walked through its doors.
The main role of the K-Economy initiative involves the product development and technology innovation of the creative multimedia industry and animation industry. Of the five K-initiatives, K-Economy is the one that has shown the most dynamic results.
Currently there are six animation companies operating at K-Perak. Five are local companies and Spacetoons Media Hub, a joint venture between the Perak State government and Dubai based Spacetoons International. K-Perak’s requirement stipulates that the companies must operate at their Perak Trade and Technology Centre (PTTC) and with the exception of Spacetoons, the training must use open source free download software.
Local company Triple Q Innovations, despite using open source software, has come out with its own 3D product Perak Boy whose story line has him looking for the Perak Man. Slated to run as a local TV serial, it was created by Triple Q Innovation CEO Kamaruzaman Jahidin but the majority of its production work was done by its K-Worker students.
For Spacetoon Media Hub/SMH, since the start of their operations 4 years ago, they have produced five products one of which was a 3D live action movie Mantera screened at local cinemas late last year.
According to Spacetoon Malaysia Chairman Fayez Weiss Al-Sabbagh, Mantera was a marketing tool to attract international recognition of the capabilities of the Ipoh production house.
Mantera took 3 years to make but its success is reflected in the recently signed co-production agreements with SD Entertainment who will also bring in their talent for the production and in doing so will train the local team, upgrade the studio and processes and provide an opportunity to understand the US work culture.
Tiggy World was created by Spacetoons Malaysia and has the International property rights for it. Hence it has created a line of spin-off merchandise such as toys, games and applications for education. Similarly, the deal with Cyber Group of France is targeted for preschool audiences and is a 39×11-minute edutainment series called MIA which will be broadcast worldwide.
Valuable Learning Experience
Al-Sabbagh is excited at these new ventures saying “it will be a good and valuable learning experience for all at the centre to understand the European and US style of work culture.” Regarding the local work force, Al-Sabbagh described them as “now they are very good; earlier they were good but too fresh and inexperienced.” He also described the method of learning a skill while working on a live project as being positive teaching strategy.
Spacetoons products cater to four categories of the market: 1) Preschool category: Tiggy World, 2) Girl Category: Mouia, 3) Boy Category: Space Crater and 4) Live CG Category: Mantera. Spacetoons Malaysia has also been approached by The Sanderson Group to set up a theme park in the Meru area using Tiggy World characters as the theme.
Putting Ipoh on Global Animation Map
During the interview Al-Sabbagh also announced that Spacetoons Malaysia will be expanding into the education business and will be developing an animation university in collaboration with University of Quebec offering two curriculums multimedia and lifestyle.
To be located at a 50-acre site at Meru, the university will cost RM229 million to build and is scheduled to be completed by end 2014. It will have an intake from 500 to 2500 students.
It appears that the initiatives of K-Perak have given birth to a new industry in Ipoh: Multimedia. If all the plans do materialise, it should put Ipoh on the global animation map. Hopefully all in the K-Community will be able to participate and partake of its benefits.