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Hullo to a souped-up, virtual ChildAid 2020

State-of-the-art technology will deliver immersive 360-degree views and surround sound for home-viewers of this concert, which raises funds for two children's charities.

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The green screen that electronic music star Jasmine Sokko was performing in front of is turned into an intergalactic wonderland.

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Benjamin Kheng performing his number.

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Nathan Hartono and Abby Simone perform their duet against a stripped-down, sepia-tinted backdrop.

WHEN the curtain rises on ChildAid 2020 on July 15, audiences will be treated to a virtual concert unlike any other. The event will use cutting-edge technology so audiences can watch and listen to it in a 360-degree sphere.

By moving their viewing device left or right, up or down, or even all around, they will see the concert from all angles and feel like they are right at the venue with the performers.

It will be best to watch the show with a smartphone or tablet, and a pair of headphones or earphones; the 8D audio technology offers superior surround sound. In fact, for an even more immersive experience, use VR goggles: You will find yourself drifting on clouds and floating in outer space with some of your favourite musicians.

The concert, organised by The Business Times and The Straits Times, benefits socially-disadvantaged children through two charities.

The technology comes from ChildAid's production partner NoonTalk Media, which spent 10 weeks capturing footage of the young musicians against green screens, which were transformed into magical panoramic environments.

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Electronic music star Jasmine Sokko's green-screen background will be seen as an intergalactic wonderland, complete with exploding supernovas and a giant floating headphone. With 13-year old rising talent Heema Izzati Zainuddin, you will see five versions of her standing all around you, singing, dancing and playing the keyboard and cello.

Not all the musicians find themselves in such fantastical surroundings. Top singer Nathan Hartono, for example, was given a laid-back, stripped-down backdrop for his duet with Abby Simone. Artistic director Jeremiah Choy cast him and Simone in a sepia-tinged Casablanca-style setting, and had additional cameras zooming in on their gestures.

Mr Choy, who has directed six other ChildAid concerts, said: "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."

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 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 banks UOB, UBS and Citi and luxury watchmaker Richard Mille, among others. Other top musicians in the show include Kahchun Wong, Jeremy Monteiro and Benjamin Kheng.

Amol Gupte, Citi's Asean head and country officer for Singapore, said: "Citi has been supporting ChildAid since its inception in 2005 because it provides a meaningful platform to inspire and empower the 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 the opportunity to create greater awareness of STSPMF and BTBAF."

The free concert will be streamed online at 8pm on July 15 on BT's Facebook and YouTube pages.

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