SINGAPORE: The local film industry has received a lift after post-production facility Mocha Chai Laboratories (MCL) opened Singapore's first Dolby ATMOS dubbing theatre.
ATMOS is a surround sound technology unveiled by Dolby Laboratories in April 2012, and first utilised in Pixar's Brave. It allows filmmakers to break away from the traditional idea of “channel-based” surround sound by panning audio through an array of speakers placed around and above the audience with the utmost precision.
MCL’s mixing theatre in Singapore is not only fully equipped with all the state-of-the-art Dolby ATMOS technology, it is also the first in the world to be fitted with Christie’s Vive, a cinema audio system known for delivering rich, dynamic and detailed sound.
This means that Singaporean filmmakers will no longer have to travel to other countries, such as Thailand and Hong Kong, to get their final picture grade and cinema sound mix properly done. The local industry can now have films finished and ready for the cinema - in compliance with global standards - in Singapore’s first fully integrated digital film lab.
"CONTROLLING THE QUALITY OF OUR PRODUCTS"
MCL founder and managing director Chai Yee Wei told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (Aug 16) that the plans to build the Dolby ATMOS dubbing theatre started two years ago.
“I decided that in order to be able to control the quality of our products out of the door, we needed to build a place that can do both colour and sound finishing all under one roof,” Chai said. “Mocha Chai Lab was the first in Singapore to offer accurate cinema colour finishing and delivery, but if we want to do a proper Dolby sound final mix, we would have to outsource it. We lost many clients over the years who wanted a one-stop shop to facilities overseas.”
A filmmaker himself, Chai - who is best known for his 2013 Xinyao film The Girl in Pinafore - had experiences working with post-production facilities overseas, and felt that there should be a local facility.
Along with award-winning sound designer Lim Ting Li – whose most recent work was Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice - the pair felt that many homegrown filmmakers were left with no other choices but to go to Thailand or Hong Kong to have their films completed.
“We realized that it is a vicious cycle. If we keep going overseas, we will only keep perpetuating the idea that there are no talents in Singapore, and thus never have the incentive to build a facility here,” Chai said. “If we do not start it, no one will. And so we did. Now we have a ‘place to call our own’. We can have a place to groom our own talents.”
"FOR FILMMAKERS BY FILMMAKERS"
A multiple-award winning graduate from the prestigious National Film & Television School in London with a Masters in sound design, Lim recently relocated back to Singapore and joined MCL as Director of Sound, as well as investing in the theatre.
“With a facility that adheres to strict quality standards when it comes to picture and sound, and having it run by filmmakers like ourselves, we hope to be able to attract filmmakers around the region to also consider us as an option,” continued Chai.
Kirsten Tan’s feature debut Popeye, documentary filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s new untitled work and Singapore anthology 4 Love - which will feature separate stories by four up-and-coming directors - are among the first projects from Singapore that will be mixed in MCL's Dolby ATMOS dubbing theatre.
But Chai also aims to encourage filmmakers from Southeast Asia to use the facilities in a move to help develop the Singapore film industry.
According to Chai, Singapore’s first Dolby ATMOS dubbing stage cost around S$1 million to build, including the cost of other equipment and facilities that were needed to complete the other aspects of post-production work.
Zhaowei Films’ producer Tan Fong Cheng is looking forward to using the facilities for upcoming projects.
“It's great that filmmakers now have an additional tool when they work on their films,” she told Channel NewsAsia. “It certainly opens up more opportunities for regional work and the types of film that emerge from Singapore, post wise.”