Visit Tour: Microsoft Studios Vancouver

(Guest post by Tarunika Gaur, DD40)

As part of the industry IQ lesson in term three of the Digital Design course at Vancouver Film School, my class, DD40 got the most amazing opportunity to visit the office of one of the most distinguished multinational companies in the field of Information Technology, Microsoft. We were all so excited and curious to know what it had in store for us, as only a week before, we had visited the office of Electronic Arts, which had left us dumb-found and wanting for more! This experience too was impeccable and was everything we had imagined it to be!

Microsoft Studio is located in the heart of Downtown, on Granville street and the office speaks for itself! Upon arrival, we were given our visitor ID cards, which looked so professional and made us feel like we belonged there! We were then greeted by Henry Chu, an alumnus of the Digital Design program. He has been working for Big Park Studios as a User Experience Designer since he graduated from VFS. Big Park studios is one of the many creative studios of Microsoft and they are working on apps in order to lay the groundwork for their big futuristic project related to Mixer reality.

Henry took us to their conference room and gave us an introduction to the project that they’ve been working on lately. He showed us their latest app called Paint 3D and it’s applications in the real world. This app has been designed for Gen-Z users and it enables them to create 3D models without having to learn all the complicated software like Cinema 4D or Maya. After creating your 3D model, one can display the same in the real world using Mix Reality Viewer. The Mix Reality viewer is a great app for showcasing ones’ prototypes in realistic settings. He explained to us how this would affect all the aspects of ones’ life, be it social, student, or work life.

After this informative session about what the future entails, we had a question-answer session during which Henry and one of his colleagues answered all sorts of questions ranging from the importance of AR and VR in the future to life at Microsoft (which happens to be splendid, by the way).

We also got to know about the internship program at Microsoft. They accept UX and UI designers, as well as web developers twice a year for four months. Around fifty young people from colleges all around Vancouver get together in this creative process and design an app based on the pitch that they have been provided with. This project works like a start-up and the interns have to go through each phase from conceptualizing to creating an end product which fulfills the requirements of the pitch. Working like a start-up is an insightful experience for all interns as they get a glimpse of how the development of a new product actually works. Seems like a once in a lifetime experience!

After the Q-and-A session, we were taken to “the Garage” which is an open studio for everyone at Microsoft. It is a colorful studio which shouts innovation. With all kinds of tools and machines, big and small, sewing kits and even 3D printers, it’s a room where one can let their creative juices flow!

 

Whatever little time we got to spend at Microsoft was exceptional and we got an insight into how such a huge tech company works. The tour was inspiring and so informative, but most importantly, it fueled us with motivation and gave us a clearer vision of our future.

 

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!”

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