Multimedia: Bringing Thai Creativity to the Digital Market
(from BOI Investment Review, February 2005)

By Cody Griggers

In an industry dominated by giants, Thailand's fledgling multimedia industry is working o forge a position in a global market worth billions.  In recent years, multimedia has grown to encompass a wide range of digital content, including animation, web and graphic design, video games, software and even mobile phone applications.  Global revenues are staggering: according to the estimates of International Data Corporation, total revenue for digital content will exceed US$165 billion in 2005 and increase to US$271 billion by 2007.  High levels of creativity and cost performance make Thailand very competitive in the field.


Multimedia in Thailand

Animation and graphic design have been a vital part of the nation’s strong film and advertising industries for over ten years. While today’s multimedia industry is led by Korea, Japan and the U.S., Thailand is making strides to forge a position in the world market, aided by strong government support, increasing university cooperation, and a growing network of production companies.

“Over a brief 12-month period, our industry has grown from a very small community relatively unknown around the world to one that is receiving exploding interest. We have reached the point where we can see that Thailand has a future in the larger international community of multimedia developers,” said Dr. Manoo Oradeedolachet, director of the government’s Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA). Araya Choutgrajank, president of the Bangkok chapter of the Special Interest Group for Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH), agrees. “We are young in this industry, but people around the world are getting to know us for our creative talent,” she said.

Government and Educational Support

SIPA is driving the nation’s efforts to compete in the industry, working in conjunction with the BOI to promote development in three main areas: enterprise software, animation and multimedia, and mobile applications. Upon meeting certain industry criteria set by SIPA, investors are eligible for BOI tax incentives and visa facilitation services for foreign experts. The government has also pushed software developers to offer licensed software at discounted prices in Thailand in an effort to combat piracy and make advanced software tools accessible for students and professionals.

To strengthen the industry workforce, SIPA is encouraging education and training, with support from SIGGRAPH. An international organization of researchers, professionals, developers, students and educators, SIGGRAPH links industry with educational institutions worldwide.

\"By working with our network of industry professionals around the world and bringing them here to share their expertise with students and young professionals, we can continue to build on our high hopes for this industry,” Araya said. Dr. Manoo affirmed the government’s commitment to university participation in the industry’s development, noting SIPA’s success in establishing multimedia education programs throughout Thailand and the growth in multimedia courses offered by Thai universities. 

Thai Animation on the World Stage

Thailand’s animation studios are among the most successful of Thailand’s multimedia enterprises. Imagimax Studio has garnered international accolades for its 3D animation work, including the prize for Best Short Animation at the Asian Television Technical & Creative Awards 2003 held in Singapore. Another rising star is Kantana Animation Co. Ltd. which will release Thailand’s first 3D animated feature film, Khankluay, in 2005. Kantana’s animation team frequently handles outsourced projects from Hollywood, and both Kantana and Imagimax have established animation schools.

Opportunity for Investment

More foreign investment is entering the industry such as through venture capital support. Thailand’s industry produces outsourced work for studios in the U.S., Taiwan, Japan, and India.

To acquaint international companies with Thailand's capabilities, SIPA and SIGGRAPH bring in international industry leaders to showcase the abilities of Thailand’s local talent. Partnership Days, they invite 20 potential buyers from abroad for a holiday, with one day dedicated to seeing Thai developers. Companies have come from Canada, the U.S., Korea, Europe, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. SIGGRAPH, working with its parent organization in the U.S., also brings Thailand’s multimedia industry to market by organizing exhibitions and seminars, and has plans to host an international competition for young designers and developers.

“We’re still a young industry, but we have made our start. It shouldn’t be long before we can gain a solid presence in the international multimedia market,” Araya said.

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