NUR ZARINA OTHMAN makes her way to the highlands to experience the display wonder
Located some 2,000 metres above sea level, Genting Highlands hosts many family-oriented entertainment centres. Its latest attraction is the SkySymphony show at the atrium of SkyAvenue.
The SkySymphony show will dazzle visitors with brilliant digital entertainment that plays off multiple giant LED screens wrapped around the three-storey-high space.
Coupled with a 1,001 kinetic winch ball system – the largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world – it is a stage for some fantastic animated features created by in-house wizards at Genting Studio.
From vibrant displays of tropical coral reefs to festive tales honouring cultural traditions, the creativity on display is spellbinding.
Leveraging the capability of Malaysians with the creative talent of award-winning Hollywood veterans, it’s world-class content.
BEHIND THE SCREENS
The brain behind the animation wonders at SkySymphony is Genting Studios.
Founded in January 2018, Genting Studios is a subsidiary of Genting Malaysia that powers the creation of original characters and concepts to deliver cutting-edge computer graphics content.
Split between two offices – one in Los Angeles and one in Kuala Lumpur – the core team of Genting Studios is made up of six individuals, each with a sterling resume and decades of experience in Hollywood feature films and award-winning TV series.
Leading the team is Daniel Regis Brown, a seasoned Hollywood veteran who has worked on countless film and television productions.
A part time job as a movie projectionist while studying at Pennsylvania State University made Brown fall in love with the industry.
Supporting Brown are two other Hollywood industry veterans. Guy Vasilovich, also based in Los Angeles has directed, developed, designed and written shows for media behemoths such a Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Universal and Disney.
Alongside directorial roles, Vasilovich has also served as art director for Disney animated features and worked on concepts and attractions for Disney theme parks worldwide.
Heading the Kuala Lumpur office is Steven Lim, a homegrown talent with over 15 years in the media and entertainment industry.
Having worked on acclaimed local productions such as Saladin: The Animated Series, Fight Masters: Silat, Bola Kampung: The Movie and Tombiruo: Penunggu Rimba, Lim oversees Genting Studios’ production and daily operations.
“We at Genting Studios are thrilled to be given the opportunity to push the envelope for digital content at Resorts World Genting and the Genting Group as a whole,” says Brown.
SkySymphony has produced numerous shows including themed production such as Spookadily which was released last Halloween.
Animations at SkySymphony include Jungle Jam, Ocean Groove with Maestro Ning, Moon Dance, Urban Symphony and The Goddess.
“What makes us different from a traditional animation studio is Genting Studios is designed to operate with expertise across the full spectrum of film and television-related activities.
“Most CG and animation firms focus on one aspect, operating as essentially ‘production facilities’,” says Brown.
Development of a Genting Studios production begins with an idea.
Brown calls it a “seed crystal”. Germinated within the Genting Studios team, this “seed crystal” is then planted, watered and nurtured with the input of various creative teams, running through several processes to hone it into a high-quality, family-friendly entertainment.
“Through meticulous and detailed discussions, we eventually hone it into a beautiful, bountiful tree that is ready to entertain our audience and endure as an example of our toil,” adds Brown.
Once the team is finished with the concept, it will then go through the Genting management.
The process involves a fair amount of internal presentations, pitching, selling and convincing.
“But the result is a better and stronger concept. Once that’s done, we are ready to begin production,” says Brown.
Once the concept of an animation for a SkySymphony show has been developed, another part of the design process kicks in: the kinetic winch ball system.
“The winch ball system is an integral part of the SkySymphony experience, bringing the visuals to life in a unique and mesmerising way,” says Sanjay Nadarajah, vice-president of Theme Park for Resorts World Genting.
It’s programmed to synchronise and enhance the visuals projected on the screens. At a recent show celebrating the 80th anniversary of Batman, the winch balls morphed into various insignias of the Dark Knight, including the iconic Bat Symbol.
“Through this, we are able to move from two-dimensional visuals to three-dimensional movement.
“It isn’t easy. I am always amazed by how much can be achieved by pushing the limits. But the results are worth it.
“Every time a SkySkymphony show plays, a huge crowd gathers to watch the magic unfold. I think that speaks for itself,” adds Sanjay.
The genius behind the dancing winch ball choreography is Michal Chan of Lighting Insomnia.
Hailing from Singapore, Chan is responsible for the design concept and programming of the winch ball system.
Under his hands, the 1,001 winch balls can change from a background feature into complex shapes such as birds, flowers, elephants and more.
Powered by the MA2 lighting console, a Coolux server for the video wall and the Q-Sys immersive audio system, the system allows Chan to control each 37.5cm winch ball individually.
With each ball having its own “personality file”, they can be raised or lowered over a range of 17.5 metres at three metres per second, making this one of the densest winch ball systems in the world.
Taking full advantage of the wraparound LED screens and the winch ball system that transmogrifies into astounding shapes, SkySymphony is a triumph of the imagination and technology.
LABOUR OF LOVE
“I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done so far,” says Brown.
“Look at anything coming out of the Hollywood studio system and compare that animation quality of our product such as Jungle Jam or Moondance projects. It is equally good. Best of all, it is Malaysian-made.
“What makes me even more proud is that these concepts were developed entirely in-house,” says Brown.
The team is currently working on projects that involves the six Resorts World Genting mascots – the Highland Heroes.
“We aim to astound our guests with the work we’ve done. We also hope that they can appreciate all the sweat, time and money that we have poured into these labours of love.”
The time for each project varies depending on the scope, style and expected running time. A fully-animated CG production for SkySymphony – which typically run to four minutes in length – takes up to four months to complete.
Each SkySymphony show typically involves up to 20 different shape profiles.