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Movie magic bubbling in Singapore

Research and development laboratory of Autodesk here has a hand in the making of Avatar 2 and The Hobbit movies.
The Straits Times - October 10, 2012
By: Oo Gin Lee
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Movie magic bubbling in Singapore -- PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Behind the R&D doors of Autodesk at one-north lies some Hollywood magic.

Autodesk Singapore is one of three major R&D centres of the American 3-D modelling software company.

And it is here that its software engineers are helping James Cameron and Peter Jackson create the upcoming movies Avatar 2 and The Hobbit.

Both movies make use of Autodesk's MotionBuilder software, which helps film-makers capture the natural motions of actors and then translate them into the movements of 3-D animated characters on-screen.

Autodesk has more than 30 R&D centres globally but Singapore joins the ranks of San Francisco and Shanghai as the three biggest labs of the lot.

The Singapore centre, together with its Montreal (Canada) counterpart, is responsible for building the MotionBuilder software, which has been used for special effects and animation in movies such as Tintin, The Avengers, Underworld Awakening and many more.

The two labs are currently working closely with James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and Peter Jackson's Weta Digital production companies by helping them tweak and customise the MotionBuilder software to meet the film-makers' needs in the making of the two upcoming cinema blockbusters.

Mr Amar Hanspal, global senior vice-president of R&D at Autodesk, said: "By working with the best, we aim to set the next benchmark in motion capture software technology."

Autodesk has 500 employees in Singapore, more than half of whom are working at the R&D centre, which currently occupies three floors of the Solaris building. The centre is just across the road from its corporate and sales office located at Fusionopolis.

The centre here is also one of the labs working on the new versions of the company's flagship Autocad software, which is used by architects and engineers in their computer-aided design work.

While the Singapore centre is one of many labs working on the core Autocad software, it is exclusively in charge of creating Autocad Mechanical and Autocad Electrical, two of its special versions of Autocad, targeted at mechanical and electrical engineers.

Autodesk has been in Singapore for more than 10 years and started its R&D centre here with just six employees in the early 2000s.

Mr Hanspal said Autodesk thrives on inventing intellectual property.

"Singapore is the perfect place to get this talent in this region. More than 90 per cent of our staff here are local," he added.

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