A tour of Giant Ant

(guest post by Kirstin Smith)

As part of our Industry IQ class in our third term here at VFS, Digital Design students get the opportunity to visit several different interactive and motion studios in Vancouver. DD30 students were lucky enough to kick off these visits by heading to Chinatown to take a tour of Giant Ant. Yes, I said Giant Ant. Now I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath. You good? Okay.

If you don’t know their work, do yourself a solid and check it out. Giant Ant is a small team of visual storytellers. They design, illustrate and animate. They direct, shoot and edit. Not to mention, they compose music and sound for their work in house.

It’s no secret that I am a really (really, really) big fan of their work. I may or may not have let out what can only be described as a squeal when I heard we were going to visit their studio. The excitement was shared by my fellow classmates. In the days leading up to the visit, we all felt the anticipation build; we were looking forward to seeing the workplace of individuals we admired.

Upon entering Giant Ant we were greeted by the company’s co-creator Jay Grandin. After greeting us, he joked that our tour was nearly finished, as the entire studio was visible from where we were gathered in the front entrance. The space is small but beautiful. All wood and concrete, the studio embodies the same homemade aesthetic and feel present in much of Giant Ant’s work.

Jay led us to a meeting room where we met another member of the Giant Ant team, Matt James. The two gave us insight into their creative process, showing detailed storyboards and style frames from past work.

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Projection Mapping Slam videos

Our recent Digital Design Slam produced some amazing work. Here is what Head of Department Louise Lee had to say about the results:

“Our Slam events are exciting because they allow students to go through a rapid project within a compressed timeline. At VFS, students are used to going through projects that last 7-8 weeks, so our Slams give them the opportunity to complete a project within 48 hours with the compressed learning outcomes that such a tight turnaround time can bring. We encourage our students to have fun with their Slam projects, and they delivered that with this round – particularly embracing and using new constraints around projection mapping that they’d worked with before. I’m constantly amazed and impressed with what our students can produce within 48 hours, and this round was no exception – check it out for yourself!”
 
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IDEO Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation

“The Design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps.”
Tim Brown & Jocelyn Watt, Design Thinking for Social Innovation

Recently, I completed the +Acumen and IDEO course Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation with three recent graduates from DD27, Sarah Gillis, Denise Villanueva and Daniel Quintero.

For the seven-week course, our team tackled the design brief “How might we enable more young people to become social entrepreneurs?” We felt this topic was hyper-relevant to Vancouver’s entrepreneurial and start-up culture. Our team went through a rigorous UCD process that moved through the three spaces of Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation outlined by the IDEO.

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Applied Arts Creative Excellence award winner: Kim Oxlund

DD alumnus Kim Oxlund’s work is featured in the April 2014 issue of Applied Arts. The article first outlines the process Kim went through to create his AACE (Applied Arts Creative Excellence) award-winning title sequence project, Paper War. This award is given to the top scorer in each of Applied Arts’ contest categories. Kim scored the highest in the student category. Some of Kim’s professional interactive design work is also showcased, and there is a discussion of his design inspiration.
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Rogers Arena visit

Throughout the year, Digital Design students are given opportunities to interact with industry through guest speaker events and studio tours. Students visit local agencies that specialize in motion and/or interactive design. We recently visited Rogers Arena, home rink of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League, to see how motion and interactive design were being used to enhance the fan experience.

The tour was led by Mark Raham, Creative Director at Canucks Sports & Entertainment. Mark, as mentioned on the Canucks’ website, “is responsible for the look and feel of the Canucks brand at all public touch points. He works closely with all customer-facing departments including brand and creative, web, broadcast and game presentation to develop and enhance the Canucks brand identity.”

We started the tour at the statue of Roger Neilson. For those familiar with the history of the team, Roger was the head coach who inspired the towel power phenomenon during a playoff run in the 1980s. Mark mentioned how well-received the statue has been for fans and it provided one of the many storytelling elements that are spread throughout the arena. The statue is a popular meeting place before games where fans can see lights of the team colours on the columns and hear ambient crowd sounds that help build anticipation for the game.  All of these elements serve to create the start of “layered experiences” for the fans.
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