After Appetizers: Recent Digital Design Grads Look Back

Appetizers! Food, drink, and delicious bites of design. Now, doesn’t that sounds like a good reason to ditch the office for a couple of hours? Especially if it means first dibs on some of the hottest young designers in the city.

Back in April, many of Vancouver’s top design creatives and recruiters gathered at VFS for the Digital Design program’s first “Appetizers” graduate showcase. These three-minute, rapid-fire presentations generated a talent feeding frenzy during the mingler that followed.

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Digital Kitchen Drops By

Digital Kitchen: Wired Science Digital Kitchen, one of the top production design firms in the world – with studios in Seattle, Chicago, New York, and L.A. – paid a visit to VFS last Friday to speak with Digital Design students, conduct interviews, and tour the school.

Naturally, when you have DK in the house, you want a little show-’n'-tell, and Creative Director Matt Mulder and Creative Lead Brad Abrahams didn’t disappoint. They presented three case studies out of the Seattle studio – the opening sequence for the TNT miniseries The Company, a promo for Wired Science on PBS, and the hilarious Microsoft Recruiting viral video MindQuest.

The pair talked at length about these projects, delving into the exhaustive and exhausting process on The Company (Matt: “You want a rocket? Here’s 8 rockets”) and the hectic Wired Science shoot (Brad: “You never want to find yourself in a position where you’re on a greenscreen stage, someone says, ‘What’s next?’ and you have no idea”).

Digital Kitchen: The Company The MindQuest project offered a couple of simple lessons to any designer. First, it was put together on a shoestring, and even for a company like DK – who have won Emmys, and got lots of acclaim for the title sequence for Dexter – those jobs are worthwhile. Brad: “We take on [low- or no-budget jobs] occasionally just to keep us sane.”

Digital Kitchen: MindQuest During the Q&A, Matt, who’s one of the professionals on the Digital Design Advisory Board at VFS, said that there’s no shortage of opportunities out there for designers – “Everybody’s always looking for somebody” – but stressed the importance of being well-rounded and knowing more than just software. “Did they set out to communicate something and communicate it, or did After Effects take over?”

Exploring Design

seb-mark-indy.jpg A little more than a week ago, Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre was packed with 5,000 high school students — all gathered for Explore Design, an expo to help young people explore the possibility of a career in the design world.

Digital Design Head of Department Sebastien de Castell and graduate Mark Miller gave the Keynote Address, speaking to a rapt audience of teens.

Mark, on thehappycorp blog, said: “We chose to use our combined experience to give the students five areas of focus, things they could do that day walking out of the presentation, to help them decide if they should continue pursuing design.”

mark-miller2.jpg Sebastien shared his thoughts on the approach: “What we wanted to bring to the audience were concepts and stories that could help them bridge the gap between people’s preconceptions of design and the strange and wonderful reality of being a designer.”

For more on what that means, here’s a video of Sebastien at the event, discussing good design.

If you’re wondering where you know Mark from, we wrote about him when he graduated from Digital Design, and when his blog won awards at South by Southwest and Flash in the Can. Yeah, he’s that Mark Miller.

Joshua Davis Visits VFS

Joshua Davis There’s never a boring day at VFS. Case in point: This week the school had one of the world’s most audacious and innovative web designers over for a visit. Ever since the launch of his seminal website Praystation and its even more experimental offshoot Once-Upon-A-Forest, Joshua Davis has been considered a true artist in the world of Flash-based graphic design. Joshua’s work incorporates chaos theory, interactivity, and randomized content to create stunning, organic imagery generated by Flash Actionscript at runtime. In other words, each time the code is executed in Flash, Joshua makes a totally unique image.

Buzzing on his own incredible creative energy (plus at least two cans of Red Bull in the space of an hour), Joshua took Digital Design students and guests through a step-by-step Flash presentation that laid out his entire creative process from early code experiments to final results for clients like BMW and Adobe, as well as contemporary art exhibitions across the globe. Many examples of his process can be found at his workshop page, and it’s all open source so you can figure out for yourself how he’s done it. Joshua’s unflinching honesty, unsoaped vocabulary, DIY ethic, and willingness to answer any and all questions made his visit to VFS a unique opportunity to look into the mind of a true master.