There is nothing more refreshing than checking out new technologies with young creatives. Kaleidoscope, the end of the year show from the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown Creative Digital Media (CDM) degree, definitely fits that bill. The CDM 2017 show took place last week showcasing the final projects of 2017’s graduates.
The idea of Kaleidoscope is simple yet complex at the same time. The name can be interpreted in a number of ways. On the one hand, it refers back to the variety of technologies that have been incorporated into the final year show. These include unique and inventive projects, ranging from AVR, film, animation, and design to gaming and online publishing. Kaleidoscope can also mean a group of butterflies (thank you Jaz Somun for explaining that to me). It’s a lovely idea, after all, these graduates are the next generation of creatives who will help drive the creative industry in the future.
Teaching digital natives
I met lecturer and coordinator Hugh McCabe, who coordinates the 3rd year students, and two of his colleagues, coordinator Daniel McSweeney and lecturer Sinéad Curran. Hugh highlighted how immersed his students are nowadays in the tech world, getting on board with new techniques and trends quickly. Sinead explained the importance of guiding students through bumps or challenges they face on their way. It is very much a process of pursuing their passions and figuring out their space.
The projects - from VR games to interactive magazines
I had a chance to check out some really cool projects at ITB. Here is a rundown of a couple of them.
There were a few cool game projects. Martins Strobinders talked about his Mer Maverick, an interactive game about a Mars Exploration Rover. Fernanda Faria was another gamer / creator, bringing 'Secrets of Scriptoria', a game design to edutain kids about the medieval times, to life. I had a go with the Pro-Drive, a VR game created in Unity by Daniel Phillips.
Students dived into a wide range of media. Sean Kennedy created a podcast story, which reminded me of Halo 5's 'Hunt the Truth' audio series. Lee Curtis, who completed his internship at Webfactory in 2016, presented the 3D Blender animation 'Realisation' about Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton. Jasmin Somun introduced his interactive 'Movement' magazine.
Continuous learning as an essential skill
My stroll among the project stands proved that ITB students are open to experimenting and playing with concepts as well as educating others. Students talked about product design, flat and minimal design, and how style-conscious we have really become. Digital design with the focus on motion graphics and usability is also a reoccurring topic. Testing is essential to ensure the final product represents you and the brand well and reinforces your relationship with customers. Plus, continuous learning is a must. The industry changes so fast that we have to be on the constant lookout for new and exciting things.
The challenge of breaking through the work experience wall
One of the key challenges mentioned was breaking through that 'work experience necessary' wall that many students face when applying for their first jobs. That's why the internship programme is so important. It is crucial to introduce students to the real working environment where their skills and knowledge are applicable in a non-college perspective. Adding 'real-life' projects to the portfolio via work placements and internship programmes helps validate their work and knowledge in the eyes of future employers. Handling criticism and dealing with tech limitations are also on students' lists of things to prepare for.
Internship programmes develop new talent
That’s where the relationship between the CDM degree and Webfactory is valuable. We have now welcomed five ITB interns through our doors for summer internships. Plus we currently employ two graduates, developers Ronan Lowry and Daniel Flynn. It’s a win-win situation for all.
Overall, the Kaleidoscope show was buzzing with great energy, full of creative ideas and a hands-on approach. I can't wait to see what these creatives will do next. I wish them good luck!