Studio Visit to Microsoft Vancouver

(guest post by Ege Kurt, DD39) 

My name is Ege and I’m part of the DD39 class – the lucky ones to be the first Digital Design class from Vancouver Film School that gets to visit the Microsoft offices in Vancouver, BC!

On September 29th, we visited Microsoft Studios, located in downtown Vancouver on Granville Street. All of us were so excited and curious. Upon our arrival, we were immediately captivated because the place was fascinating, spacious, and big. The Head of Human Resources met us and gave us our visitors’ cards and welcomed us in.

First, she showed us around and gave us a brief tour of the office. We saw the Garage and the Park Room studios–the Garage is an open studio for everyone in Microsoft, with lots of tools and machines that you can work with such as the CNC machines and 3D printers, and the Park Room is full of PCs and is for training interns.

Microsoft accepts interns for UX and UI design, as well as an array of different developers. Around fifty young creative people get together in teams and design an app within the space of four months. If you want to be involved in this creative process, you can submit your application at www.carees.microsoft.com.Towards the end of our tour of the Microsoft office, we had a pleasantly surprising “meet & greet” with Henry Chu, an alumnus of the VFS Digital Design program. He has been working for Big Park Studio as a User Experience Designer for the last two years since graduating from VFS. Big Park Studio is one of the creative studios of Microsoft and they are working on designing apps for Windows, Kinect Games, and Xbox.

Henry gave us an introduction to the project they’ve been working on over the last year. He showed us the prototype and let us test the app which is called 3D Paint. This app was designed for Gen-Z users and it empowers them to create 3D models. The app is an example of user-centered design which makes it easy to use and export your 3D models. When you are done with your 3D model, the app gives the ability to test and show your model in the real world. Your prototypes are able to respond to your environment and are diplayed in a realistic setting. It also has another functionality: you can use the app as a 3D viewer which is an innovative concept that has never been done before. 3D Viewer is a great app for sharing and showing your prototype to instructors or stakeholders. It is a fantastic concept that works with every Microsoft and Android operating system.

We had some time to ask questions during our visit and receive exclusive feedback. Here are some of the key points we discussed:

Do you think this app is beneficial to our VFS Digital Design Graduate Project?

“Absolutely, it’s helpful and saves a lot of time and gives you the opportunity to use your prototype for your motion design assets.”

Do you only work with UX/UI designers or do you hire motion graphic designers as well?

“We work with motion graphic designers at Microsoft, as well as UX and UI designers. We already have three motion graphic designers and they are working on pre-visualization of prototypes since 3D prototypes can sometimes be expensive.”

What is the working experience like in a big company like Microsoft?

“First of all, no-one has their own office – we all work in open studios and transparency isn’t creepy! This makes people feel connected and helps us to communicate more. Most of us are from Vancouver and cultural communication still exists as we are part of one big family. At the same time, we all have different backgrounds and we always inspire each other! This is our biggest strength and we are all having so much fun. We start the day at 10am and the working hours are very flexible.”

What was your career path in Microsoft?

“For myself, I started working directly as UX designer and I found myself immersed in the creative process at Big Park Microsoft; most of us are tech artists and problem-solvers.”

What were your strengths before you were hired by Microsoft and do you have any suggestions for VFS Digital Design students?

“It’s all about networking! Meet on Linkedin, get to know more about companies that you want to work in the future. During your Appetizers Industry Night, ask the same questions that you asked today. I have to say that VFS is great for networking and is one of the best institutions around the world.”

This studio visit was an amazing experience and seeing Henry was very inspiring. This experience helped us truly understand the values of being a part of the VFS family. We owe Louise Lee, Head of Digital Design at VFS, a great debt of gratitude for arranging this studio visit, and to Pam Saunders, PR & Social Media Manager, and Henry Chu, Interaction Design, at Microsoft for hosting us. Thank you!”

Hot For Teacher: Gagan Diesh at Creative Mornings

Our very own Gagan Diesh will be presenting at the next Creative Mornings Vancouver  the wildly popular and always anticipated monthly breakfast + lecture series. Gagan is a graduate of the Digital Design program who has been giving back to VFS as an instructor and mentor for over 10 years. He is now the imposingly titled External Examiner (reviews and evaluates the graduate projects in their final stages). He has made incredible contributions to the shaping of our  curriculum and been a remarkable advocate for our students and graduates helping them launch successful careers. As you can tell from his answers to the Q&A posted by Creative Mornings, Gagan maintains professionalism aura without masking his enthusiasm for the work that he does. Even first thing in the morning he is always and engaging and insightful instructor, so we are looking forward to his on Friday February 4th. A free cup of joe and a delicious W2 Media Cafe breakfast are just extra incentive to attend!

Read More

Steven Luscher Joins Our Team

We would like to welcome a new instructor to the team — Steven Luscher. Steven hails from agencies, such as Blast Radius and Future Brand, and brings a humanistic approach to all of his interface development work. He will be instructing a variety of Interface Development courses. Welcome aboard Steven!

Steven graduated from the joint York/Sheridan Bachelor of Design Honours program, with a specialization in interactive design and development. He comes to Vancouver Film School after 8 years of working for a range of clients, including Nintendo of America, Microsoft, Palm, Tiny Speck, Kiwi Collection, Electronic Arts, and Fido, independently, and in partnership with studios like Blast Radius and FutureBrand.

Though his specialty — the development of rich internet applications using HTML, CSS, and Javascript — smacks more of computer science than communication design, Steven has never lost touch with his design roots, or the design community. He served as Web Communications Chairperson on the council of the GDC/BC, and as organizer of the Vancouver Graphic Design Meetup for 5 years. He advocates for a holistic, pragmatic, user-centric approach to web development.

Iain Smith Joins Our Team

We would like to welcome a new instructor to the team — Iain Smith. Iain is a very accomplished art director with a plethora of agency experience. He will be instructing Communication Design 1 and Communication Design 3. Welcome aboard Iain!

Iain Smith is an independent graphic designer, art director and writer with over 25 years of experience. He studied fine art at Red Deer College and communication and design at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto.

He worked as a Senior Designer at Ogilvy & Mather West, BBDO Calgary and Karo Design directing teams of designers and production artists in developing creative solutions for a variety of clients.

As a contractor, Iain built client relationships that have lasted decades, producing advertising, corporate identities, illustration, web design and marketing for companies across Canada and the U.S.

 

Doug Wheeler: A Master of Light

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a fascinating article entitled, Into the Heart of Lightness, about the founder of the Light and Space Movement, Doug Wheeler. In this far-reaching article, Randy Kennedy talks about Wheeler’s career highlighting his ‘infinity environment’ exhibit that ran at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao several years ago which featured “a light-saturated, all-white, rounded room with no corners or sharp angles, rendering viewers unable to fix their eyes on any surface”. The exhibit is simultaneously like experiencing sensory deprivation and is also highly tactile. If you’re interested in learning more about Wheeler, he has a an exhibit currently at New York’s David Zwirner Gallery where at the age of 72 he will be exhibiting for the first time in many years, transforming the space into a sterile white vacuum. And you can read about his recent retrospective at MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary, Art Los Angeles).