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Joint design programme opens new creative worlds

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Concept designers eager to advance their skills in the film, TV and game sector can now learn from industry leaders of the award-winning Wētā Workshop in a new venture with Massey University and its Master of Design programme.

The collaboration matches Wētā Workshop’s internationally renowned concept design artistry with Massey’s academic design expertise to offer what has been called a “unique educational experience” aimed at attracting both domestic and international postgraduate students.

Operating within the existing Master of Design framework, the course focuses on Entertainment Design for film, television, and game. Under the guidance of the Wētā Workshop artists who helped bring films like Avatar, Mad Max Fury Road and The Hobbit to life, students will develop their skills in idea creation, storytelling, and concept design.

The year-long Masters programme starts in September 2018 with a “grad camp” and culminates at the end of their project year with a written research submission presented alongside a body of concept design work. 

The course represents a unique opportunity for students to learn from some of the world’s finest concept designers. It features an introduction to Wētā Workshop’s design philosophy centred around story, character, and world development, with presentations by key studio and university staff. Students will develop the tools to create compelling characters and imaginary worlds for the entertainment industry, supported by critiques and mentorship opportunities provided by Wētā Workshop designers to review the students’ progress.

A week-long internship at Wētā Workshop’s Miramar facility will also take place within the first six months of students starting the programme. This intensive week will give students the rare opportunity to experience life in a working design studio, with exposure to complex design challenges for real life clients.

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The programme will be offered within Massey University’s existing Master of Design degree provided at the School of Design that is part of Massey’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington, New Zealand.

Applications open on February 1 and close on May 31, 2018.

In making the announcement, Wētā Workshop Art Director and programme supervisor, Paul Tobin, says the programme aims to provide a comprehensive grounding for graduates looking to progress in the concept design sector that includes the film, TV and rapidly growing game industry. Alongside Tanya Marriot (Massey University), Paul will work to help advance the students’ studies and experience of the industry.

Ms Marriot, a former Wētā Workshop artist, lectures in animation, illustration, play and experience design, while Mr Tobin is an Art Director in Wētā Workshop’s internationally recognised Design Studio, known for its recent work on science fiction blockbusters Blade Runner 2049 and Ghost in the Shell. Both designers are involved with the Art and Industry of Imagination, an annual event established to exhibit and celebrate the best of science fiction and fantasy art in New Zealand.

Wētā Workshop co-founder and multi-Academy Award-winner,  Richard Taylor, who is a member of the College of Creative Arts Hall of Fame, says:

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Here at Wētā Workshop we are tremendously fortunate to have the benefit of some of the finest creative minds working in film, television, and gaming today. It is with great pride that we now join forces with Massey University in this new venture to develop the world’s best budding concept designers into extraordinary storytellers for the world’s entertainment industries.

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The joint programme continues a longstanding relationship Massey has enjoyed with Wētā Workshop, dating back to  Richard’s time studying at forerunner institution Wellington Polytechnic. A number of other Wētā Workshop staff, including fellow Hall of Fame inductee Gus Hunter, are graduates of Massey’s School of Design.

In October, the School of Design was ranked the number one Design school in the Asia-Pacific by global design award agency Red Dot. It is also ranked in the top 100 for art and design in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

Head of the School of Design, Professor Brian Lucid, says the collaboration represents a unique opportunity for programme applicants.

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This collaborative partnership brings together the faculty and resources of one of the world’s top design schools with the staff of entertainment industry powerhouse, Wētā Workshop. The result is a unique educational experience that will transform each participant’s creative practice and prepare them to excel within the entertainment and creative industries.

To learn more about the Wētā Workshop School at Massey University, click here.

For information and imagery requests please contact Liana McPherson, Wētā Workshop Communications Manager, at [email protected]