Tuesday, September 16, 2014


KL Converge will provide a platform for users, developers and producers to expand the content and creative industry.
KUALA LUMPUR : Considered a revolution in digital music technology when it was first introduced in 2001, no one had imagined that in a few years, the iPod would die out.
That is how fast technology changes, changing the way we consume content in its wake.
Combined with the growing Internet penetration in Malaysia, this fast pace of digital revolution has created an evolving demand for content – whether it is social, application, information or entertainment.
“With the broadband penetration in the country at over 67% of households, we need to think about what content we are consuming. Where are we going to go? Are we only going to be buyers of foreign content? Or do we also want to export our content and have others buy our content?” says Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi.
It is to help our budding local content makers tap into this huge opportunity that MCMC, along with the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and Finas, are organising the inaugural KL Converge from Sept 17 to 19 at the KL Convention Centre.
“KL Converge will provide a platform for experts, users, developers, producers and entrepreneurs to come together and forge partnerships and expand our content and creative industry’s footprint internationally,” says Sharil.
“The name KL Converge is a play on the concept of convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting, broadband, digital technology, the Internet of things...the wearables, plus the creative side like drama, films, animation and music.”
Many big names from the creative industry will be at the event to share their knowledge and experience, including Oscar-winning film production designer and director Roger Christian; LucasFilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler; composer, arranger and conductor Steve Sidwell; Industrial Light and Magic’s chief creative officer Jonathan Knolls; Pixar’s visual effects editor David Tanaka; and Prime Focus Animation VFX’s founder and CEO Namit Malhotra.
What gives Malaysia the unique advantage to become a regional hub for content creators?
Says Sharil, “Many countries have created market environments for telecommunications, broadcasting, films, television but no one has actually taken the idea of converging everything under one roof.
“We think it’s a unique selling proposition for us here in Malaysia and because we have a converged regulatory framework and converged industry, the potential is there for us to try and make the most of it.”
This is a necessary step if Malaysia is to achieve its target RM7bil contribution from creative content industry to Malaysia’s GNI (gross national income) by 2020.
“A lot of that will likely come from the creative content side but not if we only focus on the domestic market. It will only come if we also focus on the international market, by making our creative content available to the international market,” he says, underlining MCMC’s key role in transforming Malaysia into a communications and multimedia information services and creative content regional hub.
Are our industry players, specifically content creators, up to the task?
With KL Converge, he hopes the mind of participants will be opened to the different platforms and digital ways or techniques of storytelling that digital technologies have made possible for us.
One of the things that KL Converge aims to do is to help local producers plan the road-to-market strategies for their products, from pre-production marketing to post-production promotion.
“Gone are the days when people wait for a film to premiere. Now there is a lot of build-up, we have teasers for the film even before it is finished. Before the premiere there is a trailer, they put up a website and Facebook page, they tweet about it.”
There will be pitching classes at KL Converge, where content creators can learn how to sell their ideas.
“It is to help them along the Road-to-Market. You can have the best idea or concept, but if you don’t know how to sell it, your idea will remain only an idea.”
Even our market segmentation by language can be a strength, he notes.
“It is actually an opportunity if we think beyond our shores. We have content for the Malay market, Chinese market, Indian market, English-speaking market and so on. Guess what, we are not the only ones who speak Malay, Chinese, English or Tamil.”
The KL Converge, he says, will be an opportunity for local players to meet and sell to not only buyers from these markets, but also our fellow Asean members as well as other Asean partners like Japan and South Korea.
Wouldn’t they already have what we are producing?
Sharil is adamant that they wouldn’t.
“How many Spiderman or Superman films have you seen? So many. It depends on its treatment.
“Maybe there are certain treatments to the story that our people can produce that will appeal to the Chinese market in China, or to the Indian market. We may have a script, plot or film but how it is shot, developed, post-produced, will be different if it is done by a guy in China or a guy in India from a guy in Malaysia.
“We don’t see it as a one-way street where we only buy their content – they can also buy our content.”
He highlights Gravity, the Academy award winner and box office hit last year starring Sandra Bullock.
“Why was it a box-office hit? If you look at the base story – you go into space, something goes wrong and you have a problem coming back to earth – you might feel that you have seen it before, but it riveted people because the storytelling was powerful.”
We should not be intimidated by the regional giants and try to see them as opportunities, Sharil stresses.
No original story is needed then?
“If you look at Hollywood films, how many have an original story? It’s not that having an original idea is not important but it is difficult in this day and age. What we need is an original treatment of the idea, an original or new way of telling the story.
“If you tear down most movies to their base levels, you can see its essence – love story, war, crime, horror... Having said that, we actually have a lot of original stories that have not been harnessed yet like Malay folklore, World War 2 stories and it depends on how we treat and finish the story. Maybe we don’t yet have as much experience and budget (as Hollywood and Bollywood) but we have a lot of potential here – our archaeological, environmental stories for example, are still untapped.”
Citing the success of TV3’s portal Tonton with 3.5 million viewers from 42 countries registered, Sharil is confident there is a market for Malaysian content out there.
“The majority of Tonton overseas subscribers might be Malaysians abroad but I don’t think all are. There is a good opportunity here.
“We have also started selling Malaysian content overseas. Last year, we sold some RM400mil worth of content overseas.”
For app developers, there’s also Developer’s Day Hackathon that’s co-organised with AT&T.
Sharil is hopeful that KL Converge will not be a one-off event.
“It’s the first step in a journey of a thousand steps because we hope to do another KL Converge next year but between this and the one next year, we’ll have smaller events like meetings, master classes, and training sessions along the way to build up in the next 12 months to the launch of the next KL Converge.”
As for the potential for Malaysia’s creative content industry with the evolution of media, Sharil believes it is infinite.
“A lot of it depends on the product itself – whether it appeals to the market and the effectiveness of its road-to-market strategies. I don’t know and will not want to speculate. The one constant though is that people are looking for better quality.
“Before, people would watch anything on YouTube. Now, if you have a badly-made video or a slow-loading video, no one would watch it.
“The standards are higher now.”

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