Soon after graduating from Oxford University, Andrew Bonello began writing software at film effects and animation studios in Hollywood, CA. He specialised in computer vision and artificial intelligence, also working as an engineer at Google, Inc. Andrew is now independent and works in independent film production and post-production. He also performs as a stand-up comedian and improv actor. In addition, Andrew is a musician and a TEFL-qualified English teacher.
With regards to artificial intelligence, do you think Malta is investing enough in it or is Malta focusing too much on the Blockchain Island movement?
It is still early days, in Malta’s Blockchain story. The right noises are being made. But the true reckoning will be in how successful Malta is at enticing serious, sizable companies to set up long-term blockchain and crypto operations here. Regarding Artificial Intelligence, I believe many companies in Malta still have much to gain from implementing industry-standard AI, big-data and machine-learning frameworks in their day-to-day workflows. Increased outreach to – and collaboration with – academic and research bodies can obviously help, with this.
What is the most exciting project you have ever worked on?
During my time at Cinesite (Kodak’s digital studio in Hollywood), I worked with a talented team of visual artists. There, I built several digital post-production tools for restoring old movies from the vaults of some of Hollywood’s most famous film studios. These tools performed colour-correction, dust-busting, degraining and re-registration of damaged film prints. I also built software to parallelise the digital calculations performed by all these tools on a big render farm. It was exciting, highly collaborative, and very cutting-edge. In short – it was the best!
Are there any Gadgets you use for work that you can’t live without?
It’s far from original, but alas I have to say my smartphone, here. And yes – I’m an unashamed Android fanboy! That said, my phone has more uses than just keeping in touch with people, when I’m out and about. It’s equipped with a somewhat decent HD video camera. So my smartphone actually served as the main camera for one of the independent short films I am producing. So … erm … that’s my excuse! 😉
Do you think Malta is leading in Europe with regards to the startup sector? If so, how is it setting itself apart from the rest?
No. Malta has grown a lot in recent years, and I’m delighted to see the presence of tech operations here steadily increasing. But the country still needs a much more developed ecosystem for startups. This would be evidenced by regular meetups, widely known and available co-working spaces, and well-attended startup conferences and events, throughout the year. I know that these components are all already present here in Malta, to one extent or another. But I feel they need to be more integrated, better-promoted, and more ubiquitous. That’s how people working in the tech and startup space will really begin to benefit. Spend a few weeks in Silicon Valley, California. You’ll see what I mean. Ok, just to be clear: I’m not suggesting that Malta’s startup ecosystem needs to actually rival Silicon Valley. I’m just hinting at the direction it needs to look, for inspiration.
What piece of advice would you give to Maltese people in the tech and computer science space?
Try to maximise your opportunities to work with – and learn from – people and companies that have come here from beyond Malta’s shores. The island has come a long way. But there are much larger and more sophisticated tech companies operating in countries which are geographically very nearby. Some of those companies setup offices here in Malta. That’s an absolutely golden opportunity for young, local technology professionals who are seeking to grow. In order to compete, you really need to immerse yourself in that kind of environment. Preferably, go and work overseas for a year or more. You’ll come back with a much wider vocational foundation … and it will reap dividends. Even if it might cause some friction with your local, more inwardly-focused colleagues and competitors 😉
What inspires you to keep going and to keep working on bigger and better projects?
I’m an engineer, by training. But above all, I love to create. Whether it be computer algorithms, horror/fantasy stories for film, comedy routines, violin music – or even personal finance spreadsheets (!) … I’m at my happiest when I’m building. And that – in short – is my inspiration.
Which particular type of technology, such as Blockchain, VR and AI; interests you the most, and why?
I feel that both Virtual Reality and Blockchain have massive potential. That said: as yet, I think this potential has gone largely untapped. What’s the “killer app” for Blockchain? Same question for VR. What’s the use-case that will make EVERYONE sign on? I don’t think we’ve found that killer app for either technology, yet. I really hope – and expect – that we will, and quite soon. And I’d love to be a part of that!
Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is a very broad, multi-disciplinary field. I’d argue that we’ve seen successful deployments of (narrow) Artificial Intelligence systems in many spheres already. Consider driverless cars, facial & voice recognition, the recommendation systems deployed by Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, etc etc. And that’s to name but a few. The modern smartphone is basically packed full of production-scale Artificial Intelligence systems. And that is very cool.
(If you’re interested in working with Andrew on one of your projects, whether it be in film (post) production, artificial intelligence, software development, comedy, improv or English training, please get in touch with him at [email protected] You can learn more about Andrew’s work at his website – www.StasisFX.com.)