Q&A with Kelly Kurtz


Hello Kelly! First and foremost, congratulations on winning the Vega Digital Awards for your Grad Project “World Ski & Snowboard Festival Promo” and your title sequence project “188 Days”! Also, it is worth mentioning that your World Ski & Snowboard Festival Promo was recently published live and is actively promoting the event!

Q – Tell us, what was your first reaction after hearing you have won?
I was pretty shocked – I received an email informing me the winners had been announced and to check out the winners’ gallery, so naturally I assumed I hadn’t won anything. I was excited to see the amazing work that had been submitted and then found my graduate project on the winners page! And right beside it was another piece I had created, a motion title sequence, which put me into double shock!

Q – What do you think set your projects apart from the rest of the nominees?
I am not really sure!

Q – Can you briefly summarize what your grad project is about?
It is an animated promo for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival held annually in Whistler, BC.

Q – Why did you chose that as a topic?
I used to work in the ski industry full time for 12 years, so when it came to my graduate project I wanted to work on something that I am passionate about, something fun.

Q – How did you come up and define your story line?
I chose the approach of “what do I want my audience to feel” when they view the piece approach. The answer was that I wanted them to feel excited about all the festival has to offer – skiing, snowboarding, nightlife, concerts and events.

Q – When it came to choosing your art direction, what were the steps you took to define it?
Ski culture has always revered fluorescent colours, so when I mixed that idea with the après part of the festival a glow in the dark feel emerged. I defined the art direction in the previsualization stage of my project and refined it throughout production as each frame was drawn.

Q – What is the most important step that you think cannot be skipped when you are in the pre-production stage?
For me music was locked in early, I find it a back and forth process when trying to previsualize a project. The sound doesn’t get enough credit yet it is half the impact to the viewer. When I hear different music I see different animations, the music has a huge impact on what visual elements will work or not work. I had a very clear picture of what the piece was going to look like from the beginning, and when I am working on a piece that I can’t see that I need to spend more time seeing it, otherwise it is wasted time later.

Q – What were the challenges that you needed to overcome when creating your grad project?
My first logo animation that transitioned the rotating skier into the logo was very drippy looking, and didn’t fit the overall art direction. 3D rotating characters doing ski & snowboard tricks required a 3D rotating logo animation. I took the logo into Cinema 4D, twisted it up with deformers and created a small animation that was rendered out to use as a reference to then frame by frame over in Photoshop. The result was not only fitting the overall art direction of the piece but it ended up being a favourite scene for most viewers.

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On the Wall : September 2016

On the Wall - September 2016

In the early weeks of each new term, the students in Digital Design are encouraged to submit images from work that they did in the previous term. They are welcome to submit anything from character or logo designs, interface mockups, to even screen captures from their motion design work. The work is then posted online so that all of the Digital Design students can vote on the work, resulting in a “Of The Students, By The Students” selection of winners, who then see their work framed and mounted On The Wall around the campus.
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On the Wall : May 2016

On the Wall - May 2016

In the early weeks of each new term, the students in Digital Design are encouraged to submit images from work that they did in the previous term. They are welcome to submit anything from character or logo designs, interface mockups, to even screen captures from their motion design work. The work is then posted online so that all of the Digital Design students can vote on the work, resulting in a “Of The Students, By The Students” selection of winners, who then see their work framed and mounted On The Wall around the campus.
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Recap of DD Talks with Secret Location: Building Digital Experiences

On May 25th, Noora Abu Eitah, Executive Producer at Secret Location, flew in from Toronto to discuss “Building Digital Experiences” at a DD Talks event. Noora is an award-winning producer who oversees the overall management of operations and production at Secret Location. She has managed the production of several transmedia projects for broadcasters and entertainment producers and works with the rest of Secret Location’s leadership team on new business and original projects, with a focus on successful execution and deployment. Her presentation started out with describing the studio’s creative process and project team structure of 7-people pods. Secret Location employs an agile project management style which is also taught at the Digital Design program. They have daily standing-only scrum meetings to maintain communication between team members in a short and timely fashion. Secret Location makes use of greyboards to provide clients a visually more descriptive layout and look of a project compared to standard wireframes. This is part of a unique process that involves using grey boxes and shapes as an intermediate design step before creating final designs.

Secret Location is known for its work on emerging platforms such as virtual reality (VR) having won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media category for User Experience and Visual Design in 2015 for The Sleepy Hollow: VR Experience. Noora presented an overview of the process and challenges they faced in creating VR projects. She discussed the different types of available VR hardware and their latest mobile VR game, Blasters of the Universe. Noora ended her presentation by answering questions such as how motion designers play a role in prototyping projects and the importance of understanding compression and file formats for VR deployment.

Thanks, Noora!

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On the Wall : January 2016

On the Wall - January 2016

In the early weeks of each new term, the students in Digital Design are encouraged to submit images from work that they did in the previous term. They are welcome to submit anything from character or logo designs, interface mockups, to even screen captures from their motion design work. The work is then posted online so that all of the Digital Design students can vote on the work, resulting in a “Of The Students, By The Students” selection of winners, who then see their work framed and mounted On The Wall around the campus.
Read More