Digital and Independent Media Revolution in Hawaii

By Todd J. Robertson Guest Columnist

Over the last several years, much of the expansion in entertainment media has been fueled by interactive and digital media.

In 2004, gaming was a $10.3-billion industry domestically. By 2011, the industry had grown to $65 billion worldwide and is poised to continue this pattern in the years ahead.

Director/producer Todd Robertson films "The Kiss."

The digital media industry has a huge potential to develop and thrive in Hawaii due to its ideal location and strategic global position, bridging Asia and the U.S. Digital media also provides growth opportunities for the film business through foundational support services in visual effects, animation, motion graphics and post-production.

Digital media projects are not variable-location-based; they require computer hardware and software infrastructure development that, once built, does not move away quickly.

For a state like Hawaii, this infrastructure is vitally important in attracting long-term projects that require highly-skilled/educated artists, technicians, programmers and engineers. Digital media companies need not focus solely on games. Facilities that produce assets for games may also work on visual effects, animation or post-production for films and television.

A digital media company’s workforce is well poised to serve both interactive and film producers. Over time, film and video producers working locally with digital media producers will become the base of a vibrant ecosystem that will bring in projects from abroad, and inspire local producers to stay. The rise of digital media will also help spur additional film work in Hawaii by adding a currently missing component of post-production and visual effects.

Our company, Hyperspective Studios, is a digital media company that straddles the line between film and interactive media. Producing media projects containing animation, visual effects, interactive programming and film, Hyperspective flourishes in an environment where both traditional and emerging media collaborate, each raising the other’s level of production quality. It is because Hyperspective participates in both film and interactive projects that we recognize opportunities and trends that will grow both industries in Hawaii.

An important trend that creates opportunity in digital media is gamification. By “gamification,” I mean the populating of traditional media with basic psychological motivators, called game dynamics, that are found in all games.

Whether it is the time-based pressures pushing players to an end goal or the social aspects of competition, game dynamics are making their way into corporate communication and advertising. The marketing departments of companies and organizations are finding that game dynamics increase awareness, engage the target audience, and ensure that the message is remembered long after the communication ends. Traditional advertising and communication methods will increasingly work in tandem with social and interactive media.

The engagement and knowledge retention that game dynamics produce in communication make them a perfect fit for education as well. Hyperspective Studios is tapping into that potential in developing REPower, an Immersive Discovery Learning tool based around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. In the game, students are given missions that simultaneously motivate them to gain knowledge of real-world technologies (currently geared toward topics of renewable energy), while learning about the science behind them. Students learn at their own pace with REPower and naturally gravitate towards the topics that will most interest them, leading to greater retention.

To help ensure Hawaii stays competitive in this new paradigm, a group of digital media and independent media developers from around the state have joined forces to support legislation that will assist emerging media development in Hawaii. State support will give digital media projects access to tax credits currently enjoyed by traditional film and video. This addition will help cultivate the industry locally, while still attracting outside spending from big studio projects.

In fact, I believe that the advancement of this new industry will also help grow the film business overall in Hawaii by providing additional local resources to producers.

If you’re interested and would like to know more, or would like to join our group to support the promotion of independent and digital media in Hawaii, please contact me at

Todd J. Robertson is president/CEO of Hyperspective Studios. Visit or call 808-741-1292.

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