When ChildAid 2020 debuts next Wednesday, audiences will be treated to a virtual concert unlike any other.
It employs cutting-edge technology so you can watch and listen to it in a 360-degree sphere. By moving your viewing device left or right, up or down, or even all around, you will be able to enjoy the concert in all directions – as if you are right there in the room with the performers.
It is best to watch the concert with a smartphone or tablet, and a pair of headphones or earphones. The 8D audio technology offers superior surround sound.
For an even more immersive experience, use VR Goggles if you have a pair. You will find yourself drifting on clouds and floating in outer space with some of your favourite musicians.
The concert, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, benefits socially disadvantaged children through two charities (see other story).
The technology is provided by ChildAid's production partner NoonTalk Media, which spent 10 weeks capturing musicians against green screens and then transforming them into magical panoramic environments.
In the case of electronic music star Jasmine Sokko, for instance, her green screen background is converted into an intergalactic wonderland complete with exploding supernovas and a giant floating headphone.
For 13-year-old rising talent Heema Izzati Zainuddin, you get to see five versions of her standing all around you, singing, dancing and playing the keyboard and cello.
Not all the musicians find themselves in fantastical surroundings.
Singer Nathan Hartono, for example, opted for a laidback, stripped-down approach in his duet with Abby Simone. Artistic director Jeremiah Choy then added a sepia-tinged Casablanca feel to the image and had additional cameras zooming in on their gestures.
Choy, who has directed six other ChildAid concerts, says: "It's been quite challenging creating a full-length concert in these social distancing times. But we've definitely risen to the occasion and created something magical."
VIEW IT / CHILDAID2020 – VIRTUALLY YOURS[hhmc]
WHERE: YouTube and Facebook channels of The Straits Times and The Business Times, The Straits Times, The Business Times and Stay Home with SPH websites
WHEN: July 15, 8pm
HOW TO DONATE
Readers can donate through str.sg/donatetochildaid, PayNow (UEN Number: 201408699H, enter CA20 and NRIC and contact numbers in the reference field) or by cheque, made payable to "ChildAid", indicating name, NRIC number and address at the back of the cheque. The cheque can be mailed to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, 1000 Toa Payoh North, Singapore 318994.
Catch a sneak peek of the upcoming concert at str.sg/JmYv.
The one-minute trailer gives a glimpse into the concert's 360-degree virtual experience and is best enjoyed using a smartphone or tablet, as well as headphones to experience the 8D audio technology. The concert can also be viewed on the computer or laptop
NoonTalk Media's Jed Tay, the show's multimedia director, says: "This is the first time Singapore is seeing a full concert in this format. And I must say the circuit breaker has been unexpectedly beneficial to us. Staying in throughout the period led us to figure out how to seamlessly blend images and animation to create these panoramic 360-degree views. And now we're ready to present what we've created to the world."
The concert, which also marks The Straits Times' 175th anniversary, is sponsored by UOB, UBS, Citi and Richard Mille, among others. Other top musicians performing in ChildAid 2020 include Wong Kah Chun, Jeremy Monteiro and Benjamin Kheng.
It aims to raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF), which helps about 10,000 disadvantaged students, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BTBAF), which supports lessons in the performing and visual arts for 1,000 financially disadvantaged children.
Mr Amol Gupte, Citi's Asean head and country officer for Singapore, says: "Citi has been supporting ChildAid since its inception in 2005 because it provides a meaningful platform to inspire and empower youth. Importantly, the goals of the initiative in support of STSPMF and BTBAF are also aligned with Citi's mission and value proposition to enable growth and progress in the community.
"Going online will mean more people will have the opportunity to watch the concert 'live' and enjoy the excitement of the event and an opportunity to bring greater awareness towards STSPMF and BTBAF."
• Helmi Yusof from The Business Times is the organising co-chairman of ChildAid.