Philippine government opens improved media arts lab

The Philippine government, together with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and IT solutions company Red Fox, Wednesday formally opened the expanded Digital Media Arts Development (DMAD) laboratory for local state universities and colleges (SUC).

Originally launched last year as a small facility with only five computer units, the DMAD laboratory has now grown into a full-blown training laboratory with 21 units of high-performance AMD Athlon 64 bit processor Red Fox-based PC systems.

Located at the second floor of the Commission on ICT’s (CICT) National Computer Center (NCC) building at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, the DMAD laboratory is expected to advance the ICT (information and communications technology) skills of Filipinos, mainly in digital media arts such as animation, digital fine arts, and video editing, among others.

CICT commissioner Emmanuel Lallana described the AMD 64 bit processor as a quick tool for rendering free and open source software (FOSS) technology. He said FOSS is the solution that would break the barrier for local schools in offering courses related to digital media arts.

Lallana said CICT would work together with the Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI) to develop courses on content creation and content development, seeking to train trainers in all 65 SUCs in the country, as well as the general public.

“One thing that the animation council felt was proprietary and commercial software are expensive. With this lab, we hope to showcase software is not necessary a barrier because we have open source software,” he said, in an interview with Computerworld Philippines.

Lallana reported CICT has already compiled all open source software related to digital media arts namely Blender Pack, Gimp, and Inkscape, which are mostly used by big companies in the US. The commission is now distributing CD kits of the compiled software with tutorial instructions.

He said CICT does not expect any complaints regarding training fees as the schools are already aware their stakes already.

“We will find some money for the trainers and for SUCs that’s not a problem,” he said. “All we (CICT) have to do is to make sure all courses are relevant. The long term goal is to train faculty from various SUCs so that they themselves can offer animation courses.”

Sonny Sy, AMD channel sales manager in the Philippines, said through the DMAD laboratory, AMD hopes to expose its technology not only to local IT practitioners but to aspiring IT professionals as well, simultaneously contributing to the preparedness of the local IT industry in the global IT market.

“Specifically, we want them (local IT practitioners) to experience first hand what AMD 64 architecture is all about, because it is us who defined the 64 bit extension to the X86 architecture, which the competitor only followed,” he claimed. “This is the first time in history because before it is AMD who follows what the competitor does.”

Sy, however, declined to divulge the total cost of the donated IT infrastructure.

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