Skip to main content



How Night Owl Cinematics’ Ryan and Sylvia became Singapore's YouTube power couple

SINGAPORE — True to their company’s name, local YouTubers Ryan Tan and Sylvia Chan of Night Owl Cinematics, aren’t quite the morning people.

Local YouTube celebrities Ryan and Sylvia. Photo: Night Owl Cinematics

Local YouTube celebrities Ryan and Sylvia. Photo: Night Owl Cinematics

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — True to their company’s name, local YouTubers Ryan Tan and Sylvia Chan of Night Owl Cinematics, aren’t quite the morning people.

When TODAY met them at their home at about 9.45am today (Dec 15), the married couple looked incredibly tired, but understandably so. They had gone to bed at around 6am, having stayed up the whole night to shoot and edit their Christmas video, which is set to be uploaded this Sunday — “hopefully”, Tan said, stifling a yawn.

The last three years have been a whirlwind for the couple, both 27, who are arguably Singapore’s most popular YouTube personalities. This is the third year in a row they’ve made YouTube’s Singapore list of the top 10 most trending (non-music) videos of the year. Their most viewed video of the year, about the differences between dating and married life, has gotten more than 1.3 million views, while their YouTube channel RyanSylvia currently has more than 416,000 subscribers.

In Tan’s words, “it’s been three whole years of no holidays, no MC, no leave”, and the duo aren’t exactly looking to slow down. Tomorrow, the couple will fly off to Taiwan for another shoot. They have plans to expand the company, improve the production of their videos — currently about 10 per cent of their videos are scrapped beccause they aren’t up to the mark — and launch a clothing line.

Chan said the duo want to embark on a “new style of videos”. “There’ll be some changes (in our videos) that you’ll really notice because we have a lot of plans to do a lot of things,” she said, adding that she “really want(s) to start a clothing line, because I have passion for the arts”.

The couple’s busy work schedule is “quite bad” but “if we stop working then we stop making money”, Tan said pragmatically. “Taiwan will hopefully be a holiday for us, we always say that, but then we start checking emails and doing work.”

Still, it’s work they enjoy — mostly.

“I like to shoot and edit and my form of having fun is just shooting, taking photos, doing videos… I think she (Sylvia) needs a break cause she deals with clients and all that, so it’s a little bit more difficult and less fun,” quipped Tan, who has been banned by his counterpart from meeting clients because he argues with them.


The couple have known each other for about 10 years, having met at 16 while modelling. (“Back then, I didn’t look like this,” Tan said. “I was a lot slimmer.”) They started dating five years later, and married a year after that at the age of 22.

“I saw her on the streets and she was scolding some vulgarities to her ex-boyfriend, who seemed to have cheated her of some money,” recounted Tan. “After that I tried to help her get her money, but it didn’t succeed, so I had to marry her to pay her back,” he joked.

There are plans to start a family in future, but for now, their attention is focused on NightOwl Cinematics.

“This business really requires us to be very hands-on, the moments we ‘take off our hands’, the business cannot function,” Tan said. Other than the duo, there is one more full-time member on the team. They want to grow the company to six full-timers.

“Technically you see one video a week, but we’re actually shooting two to three videos a week, including offline videos not for YouTube but for clients and stuff, and these add even more strain,” shared Tan. The company has worked with organisations including ASUS, DBS, Singapore Zoo and Golden Village.

Most of the ideas for their videos come from daily conversations, which are then jotted down and stored for future use.

“We actually have an archive of scripts. Everytime we have a conversation, I would always tell Sylvia, ‘Write that down write that down’ ... maybe it’s just ideas here and there, sometimes it’s a bit of a script. And when the opportunity comes, be it a client, or our own shoots, then we have a library to tap on,” said Tan.


While the couple are now seen as the “unofficial benchmark” for the local YouTube industry, few expected them to succeed when they started out.“My friends told me I would not make it. My family asked “This one can make money meh?”, recounted Tan, who turned to YouTube after a failed restaurant venture.

Said Chan: “He thought that his future was in food. But making food and eating food are two very different things.”

Instead, Chan had noticed her husband’s passion for videography. “Even when Ryan was running the restaurant, he was making videos as a hobby and helping friends do freelance work,” she said. “I realised that he really had the passion and talent for doing videos, so I pushed him in this direction and it seems to be working out.”

But getting NightOwl Cinematics off the ground wasn’t easy either.

When they first started in 2013, YouTube personalities weren’t that big in Singapore. It was also difficult for Ryan to get more experience.

“When we first started, I messaged a lot of people and said I wanted to work for them, because my business failed already and I wanted to bounce back. I sent my resume to a few places, to wedding companies, and they all rejected me,” Tan said.

Then, he reached out to Malaysian YouTuber Dan Khoo, who took the duo under his wing, provided them with resources and taught them how to build and sustain a channel. “It was so nice because I couldn’t offer him anything,” said Tan.


Now, three years on, the couple are paying it forward. Affectionately known as the “mum and dad” of Singapore YouTubers, they make it a point to try to help aspiring YouTubers. In an interview with TODAY last year, YouTuber Tan Jian Hao credited Tan for his guidance, particularly in videography work. Other YouTubers often seen in videos with the pair include the Wah!Banana team and Dee Kosh.

Chan said she and Tan had decided early on that if they succeeded, they would not be like “those people” who didn’t help them when they were fresh on the scene. “We’re always going to try to help,” she said, adding that as one of the pioneers, they feel some responsibility to see the YouTube community here grow.

There are some YouTubers, however, who are more interested in the fame that comes with being an online personality, they say. And in such situations, the couple are frank about their views.

“A lot of people come in asking for help, they want the fame and glory, and those are the people that we’ll try not to waste our time (on),” said Tan. “Usually we help them out at first, but then later all the pattern start coming out. ... they’ll say: ‘Why my Instagram followers only like that only. Can you shoutout for me or not? I take a wefie with you can or not?’”

“Or like, ‘how much do you earn from your clients this month?’” Chan added. “And you know they’re coming from a different place, where fame and money is a little bit more important. And these people really ‘suck’ your energy, because that’s the part of the industry that we least like. The business part may be necessary, but we want to get it over and done with.”

Read more of TODAY’s interview with Ryan Tan and Sylvia Chan via this link.

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.