April 2012 issue

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A world in digital

The dynamic field of digital media design is constantly expanding and is one of the most internationalised areas of vocational study. Matthew Knott logs on.

The interactive digital media industry offers graduates a chance to engage in creative work that is varied and evolving with new technology on an ongoing basis,” attests Roberta Mascitti at the College of Design and Social Context, RMIT University in Australia. “Areas such as smartphone or application development didn’t even exist a few years ago, and it is exciting for students to be at the forefront and contribute to defining this emergence of new technology,” enthuses Antonia Mocatta, at Australia-based SAE Institute and Qantm College.

SAE Institute and partner Qantm College offer a range of degrees and diplomas in animation, interactive media/web development, games design, and graphic design, as well as audio/sound production and film production. “All of our courses balance theoretical knowledge with a hands-on, industry-focused curriculum that has been designed to align with industry demands,” attests Mocatta, adding that strategic partnerships with key industry bodies enable unique work experience and internships. “While the courses teach technical proficiency, they also provide an outlet for students to express their artistic individualism and experiment with their own creativity and ingenuity – a combination that is quite unique to find in a degree or diploma,” Mocatta adds.

Media Design School (MDS) in New Zealand has more than 13 years’ experience with the global film, design, game development and digital industry, enthuses Jackie Young. MDS provides degrees, diplomas and certificates covering areas such as creative technologies, 3D computer animation, visual effects and motion graphics. “Students enjoy a supportive learning environment with relatively small class sizes,” advises Young. “International students studying at MDS can spend from one semester to three years immersed in a learning environment that combines theory with hands-on, production-based projects, so that students are prepared for rapidly evolving industries and dynamic careers.”

In Japan, the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design is committed to fostering “media innovators”, according to the university’s Juri Homma. With master’s and PhD courses in English and Japanese delivered with international partner institutions and research facilities, the ambitious programme “produces international professional leaders and scholars who can revolutionise industry and bureaucracy, create and innovate new generations of digital media, produce interactive content and experience, and create, edit, and distribute knowledge, which is the most valuable resource in our global society”, attests Homma.

Limkokwing University of Creative Technology has digital media courses across six faculties in Malaysia, and at several of its overseas campuses. “We work closely with industry giants such as Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung among other brands, as well as government ministries to ensure our students get good grounding into ‘real world’ expectations,” advises Senior Vice-President, Ambi Mathe. She cites the university’s website, which receives over 250 million hits a year, as a student success story. “The team that manage the website, comprising mostly alumni, are prolific global winners for web creativity,” she enthuses.

RMIT’s interactive digital media programmes consist of the Diploma of Interactive Digital Media and the Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media, and have a very good reputation among the digital media industry both locally and internationally, says Mascitti. The university is particularly supportive for those studying in a second language, so that students “become more confident to discuss and present their ideas in English, along with developing their creative and technical skills”.

All contributors underlined what a multicultural field digital media is, with source markets evenly spread across the continents. Mathe says the 145 nationalities at Limkokwing help to build networks and multicultural competencies. “These come in useful when the student starts his/her career, because companies are dealing with globalisation, and having friends across the world helps in obtaining market intelligence that is unparalleled.” At Keio, meanwhile, Homma advises that around 30 per cent of students are international.

“We endeavour to increase our international applications by liaising with local and international agents, attending education fairs, [and we] conduct presentations overseas and conduct a lot of online advertising,” informs Mascitti. Elsewhere, Mocatta cites expos, agents and online advertising as recruitment methods.

Digital careers

Graduates from SAE Institute and Qantm College in Australia, have, advises Antonia Mocatta, found jobs as web designers and developers; programmers; app developers; graphic designers; animators; visual effects editors and games designers, while some have established their own businesses. “Digital media is profoundly used in designing websites, creating advertisements and product packaging, so it also provides opportunities in marketing-related areas. The television and film industry also relies heavily on digital media, with postproduction in New Zealand almost doubling over the past two years,” informs Jackie Young at Media Design School, New Zealand. Roberta Mascitti at RMIT University in Australia, gives the example of a recent graduate from Singapore who is now a Production Assistant at Lucasfilm Animation and working on the ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ CG animated series.

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