Earlier this week, BA (Hons) Dance undergraduates had the opportunity to work collaboratively with students from the Armenian State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography during a Virtual Dance Master Class led by University of Salford alumni and accomplished choreographer, Teni Matian. Supported by the AYB Educational Foundation in Armenia, the Virtual Master Class allowed our first, second and third year Dance students to explore Teni’s unique style of Armenian and contemporary fusion from our very own state of the art Digital Performance Lab at MediaCityUK.
Commenting on the virtual collaboration, third year Dance student, Laura Thomas said: “The virtual master class was a great example of how technology can aid creative work with anyone, anywhere around the world. Having the live connection and ability to speak to each other and ask questions made it feel like you were interacting with a practitioner in the same space.”
Fellow final year student, Joe Mannion added: “Learning the small details involved in Armenian dance style was extremely interesting. It was a style I didn’t even know existed! As an aspiring Choreographer myself, learning the way in which this movement is done has helped me to develop my own style and, most importantly, has given me a more open mind about leaving no stone unturned in dance.”
BA (Hons) Dance Programme Leader, Lisa Cullen, was particularly excited about working with Teni on the Master Class as it allowed her to reconnect with a former student as well as get a flavour of Teni’s recent work. Since graduating in 2007, Teni has opened her own dance company and wrote the first ever contemporary choreography course in Armenia.
Reflecting on the success of the master class, Lisa Cullen said: “It was hard to believe that we were working together yet divided by many miles and hours. I found it incredible to see both sets of students sitting together in this virtual setting, sharing their work. I’m really hoping we can develop this further in future. It was a very rewarding experience for all involved.”
Course representative and final year student, Cherie Bellingham, stopped in for a short Q&A last week to provide us with her views on the gaming industry and a bit of insight into the perks of studying BSc (Hons) Computer and Video Gamesat Salford. An aspiring art director herself, aiming to enhance the visual effects of future digital games, Cherie chose to study Computer and Video Games so she could carry on painting dragons, inventing new species and creating gruesome horror scenes, whilst getting paid to do so. Cherie was originally headed down a fine art route before deciding that the gaming industry would offer her more freedom to express herself. Three years and nearly a degree later, Cherie has not only found the creative freedom she was looking for, but she’s also acquired a broad range of skills and immersed herself within a rich community full of talented individuals from programmers to concept artists.
What do you feel you’ve gained from studying Computer and Video Games at the University of Salford?
The course has certainly exposed me to a number of indie developers and industry veterans, which has enabled me to gain a good amount of professional contacts over the duration of my three years here. Keeping in touch with former students has also helped me to increase my contacts because many of them have since graduated and secured jobs within industry.
This course has also pushed me to work very closely with people who have completely different skill sets, attitudes, personalities and work ethics to myself, which has been a huge challenge, but a very worthwhile learning experience. I have had a taste of the pressures that I will most likely encounter in industry such as having to hit deadlines and not only organising myself, but also relying on others. In addition to learning the ins and outs of working within a diverse team, I’ve also developed key technical skills in HTML/CSS and C+ languages.
What is your favourite aspect of the BSc (Hons) Computer and Video Games course?
Both the students and the tutors on the course are absolutely amazing. They are a very warm and comforting bunch of people, jam-packed with an impressive range of talent. Everyone is always more than willing to help one another learn and become better because, at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to be the best at what we do.
How do you think the gaming and creative media industries will change over the next few years?
With the previous gen and current gen, it’s clear to see we’re looking at a future where the console is no longer purely a gaming device but more of a home entertainment platform that effortlessly streams TV, film, music and games. The increase in ‘casual games’ on android and iOS has also led gaming companies to look towards second screening and game play that fluently crosses multiple devices, such as Cut the Rope, which can be played on PC, tablet and smartphone. There will be even more of this in future purely because of the indie boom.
The fact that third party API’s and game engines have become more user friendly has also made it extremely easy for ‘bedroom developers’ to flourish. Also, there are a lot more experimental games out there due to contributions from organisations such as Kickstarter who explore different ways to play games using motion, voice, virtual reality, augmented reality etc.
Because of the new evolving technology, the creative industry is quickly evolving too with new mechanics, amazing artistic talent and intriguing new gameplay right across the board. I am especially excited to see the results of all the effort that has gone into developing virtual reality which I’m sure we’ll begin to see over the next few years.
As an experienced soon-to-be graduate, have you got any tips for our up and coming Computer and Video and Games students?
It may seem like common sense but the most important tip I have for up and coming students is to research different companies you would like to work for once you graduate. After you identify several companies you’re interested in, find out what skills you would need to join their team and utilise your time at university to develop those specific skills. Also, put effort into developing a strong portfolio because you never know who you’re going to bump into.
Our MediaCityUK project room was brimming with over sixty first year students last Thursday at the launch of the long awaited Typographic Haiku exhibition. Best described as a ‘collaborative experiment’, the exhibition showcases some of the more unexpected and extraordinary results of fusing poetic elegance with typographical genius.
Led by lecturers Tim Isherwood and Judy Kendall, the Typographic Haiku project involved a collective effort from our BA (Hons) Graphic Design as well as our BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing students. The project began at the start of last semester when a number of first year English and Creative Writing students were tasked with crafting a series of haikus and short poems. The pithy compositions were then handed over to first year Graphic Design students who were charged with transforming the elegantly written words into bold typographical illustrations. Fashioning meaning into typefaces, the Graphic Design students were asked to embody the feeling and subject matter of a particular haiku using purely typeface, colour and shading, and creative positioning on the page.
The outstanding turnout and the synergistic conversations that took place during the launch evidenced the creative and poetic potential that this interdisciplinary project has provoked. Creative writing students were particularly impressed by the dedication and care with which the Graphic Design students took in reinterpreting the written pieces, especially in cases where the same haiku had been worked on by different design students to extraordinary and contrasting effect.
Reflecting upon the outcome of the collaboration, English and Creative Writing senior lecturer, Judy Kendall said: “I was really blown away by the results of this experimental collaboration – it was delightful to have been involved and really lovely, and inspiring, to see the writing made visible in this way, with creative talents at work across modules and disciplines. I look forward to many more such projects in the future.”
The exhibition will remain on show in Project Room 3.33 of our MediaCityUK Campus until Friday 28th February.
Our second year BA (Hons) Performance: Contemporary Practices students have received some outstanding feedback from our friends at the Imperial War Museum as a result of their interactive performance, Metes and Bounds.
The Metes and Bounds project was a collective response to IWM North’s exhibition Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War, the museum’s first major exhibition of its national collection of contemporary art produced since the First Gulf War.
Prior to the exhibition, our second year Performance students worked closely with professional artist Sheila Ghelani coming up with innovative methods to bring the audience closer to the works on display. While most performances are commonly prepared within the security of private rehearsals, the Metes and Bounds project was produced and rehearsed in the pubic surroundings of the IWM North exhibition space. This only further added to the originality and the creativity of the project.
Following on from the four performances which took place over last Thursday and Friday, the IWM North’s Visitor Programmes Manager, Camilla Thomas said: “The Metes and Bounds performances were diverse, interesting and showed a level of sensitivity to our subject matter, and to our varied public audience, that exceeded my highest expectations. The depth of the students’ preparations and considerations while shaping the performances was highly evident; from thoughtfully meeting and guiding the audience in the introduction talk to the individual repeated gestures in the Catalyst exhibition itself.”
Another staff member from IWM North added: “The Salford student’s performances added another layer to the visitor experience. The group clearly dedicated a lot of consideration towards the building, the collection and the overall ethos of IWM.”
Breathing life into more than 20 years of work by over 40 different artists, Metes and Bounds is yet another vivid example of the many ways in which are performance students continue to raise the bar.
A CBBC comedy series that involved input from our Animation and Digital Production for TV and Film graduates was named Best Animated Series at the Kidscreen Awards last week.
Co-produced by Factory Transmedia in Altrincham alongside CBBC and Fremantle Kids and Family Entertainment, Strange Hill High is 13×22-minute children’s animated series about an inner city school filled with “fantastical secrets and outlandish mysteries.” It follows 3 intrepid Year 7 pupils on a number of strange and random adventures.
The production has been deemed ‘ground-breaking’ due to its use of a new animation technique called “hypervynorama” which combines Japanese vinyl toy design and puppetry with stop-motion animation and CGI.
Fraser Durie, Lecturer in New Media Technologies, played a key role in the opportunities for our graduates to get involved with Strange Hill High.
A graduate from the BA Animation programme last year has now been with Factory TM since August and has been mentoring some of the University’s current placement students too. The second series of the show is already in production.
Kate Corbin, Lecturer and Programme Leader in Animation, said, “Josh Weinstein was one of our main guests at the recent Salford Media Festival and Next Generation. Across the MA programmes, we work a lot with Phil Chalk, Chief Executive for Factory Transmedia and CBBC. It is great to see our relationships are working so well and resulting in opportunities and successes such as this one.”
With the venue booked, flyers printed, and the complimentary wine fully accounted for, third year BA (Hons) Visual Arts student, Sarah Coggrave, has not left a stone unturned in the run up to her public exhibition, ‘A House in Didsbury’. Previewing Friday 28th February at the Didsbury Parsonage, this imaginative exhibition promises to present a series of visual clues that follows the adventures of a fictional Edwardian character who travels through time and explores the artist’s basement home. The adventures are documented via photographs, artifacts and on certain days, even live performances by Sarah herself. An inquisitive investigator and habitual creator of fictional characters, Sarah invites local audiences to consider this mysterious Edwardian lady and to ask what she is doing in the twenty first century. Who is she? Where does she come from? Does she really exist? And what might she tell us about a house in Didsbury?
In the wake of her exhibition debut, we popped in for a chat with Sarah to catch up with her about her inspiration, her ambitions and experience studying Visual Arts.
Where did you draw your inspiration for this exhibition?
After researching the history of my home in Didsbury, I was inspired by one the first occupants who ever lived there which was a young Armenian lady named Astra Funduklian. She never married or had children and she lived a rather adventurous life. She was well-travelled, was once caught smuggling silk and died very wealthy. Based on my interpretation of Astra, I created this independent, adventurous and mysterious character, pitting her fictional adventures in the house at the centre of my exhibition.
What media do you most enjoy working with?
I create characters, performances and stories, which I record mainly through photography, drawings and sometimes film. However, as I take on new projects in the future, I am hoping to adopt new methods and ways of working. I often use archives and historical materials as starting points for my existing work.
What do you feel you’ve gained from studying Visual Arts at the University of Salford?
I always wanted to study art, but prior to pursuing my original ambition, I ended up doing a BA in Social and Political Sciences followed by an MA in International Criminology. It took a number of years before I decided to return to university but when I finally did, I knew I wanted to study on an arts course that wasn’t too prescriptive. While many universities require you to specialise in a certain medium such as sculpture or painting etc., the Visual Arts course at the University of Salford offers much more freedom in terms of experimenting with different ways of working. In addition to the flexibility of the course, I also gained the skills and confidence necessary to start creating my own opportunities. Plus, the assistance I’ve received from some of the tutors has really helped in terms of preparing proposals, learning specific techniques and pushing the boundaries of art.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m moving to Scarborough in North Yorkshire to create an archive, exhibition and a series of performances inspired by closed or demolished seaside attractions. I used to holiday there as a child and want to transform memories (both mine and other people’s) into colourful and unusual performances. The exhibition will take place in either 2015 or 2016 in Scarborough, and will bring together records of the performances, and the places that inspired them.
For more on Sarah and her previous work, you can check out her blog and her website. If you’re unable to attend the opening preview, ‘A House In Didsbury’ will be on show from Saturday 1st to Sunday 16th March between 10-5pm.
TV and Radio graduate turned Children’s Digital Media Production student, Dan Kenyon, is now more confident than ever about choosing to further his education in pursuit of his passion for Children’s TV. Since landing a job on the set of CBBC’s Newsround and Match of the Day Kickabout, Dan has been working on both live and pre-recorded shows, getting involved in everything from operating Autocue on live bulletins, monitoring and maintaining camera equipment to ingesting and backing-up footage and programmes. In addition to all this, Dan has also undertaken a number of regular researcher responsibilities, such as sourcing footage, writing script links, camera work and editing for broadcast. Dan’s first-hand experience as an undergraduate and postgraduate student provides a great example of the wealth of opportunities that is available within the School of Arts and Media.
How did you land your job with CBBC?
I had previously undertaken a work placement on the CBBC show DNN which came about as a result of a collaboration between the University and the DNN show’s producers. Then, several months after the placement finished, I heard about a position opening up at CBBC. I was working on Hollyoaks at the time, but CBBC was where I ultimately wanted to start my career so it was an easy decision to make. The production manager from my work placement gave me a strong reference and I was offered the job, as simple as that!
How do you feel about landing the job?
I’m so thankful that I’ve finally got my foot in the door in an industry that I’m really passionate about. Before I’d landed this job at CBBC, I felt like I was on the outskirts of a seemingly impenetrable industry, and now I’m here, actually creating content for broadcast. It’s unreal to think about.
How do you feel your experience at the University of Salford helped you secure this position?
It’s simple really - without the university, I wouldn’t have gotten this job. I’ve been at the University of Salford for five years now and with each year I’ve been offered more and more opportunities and experiences, enabling me to meet the right people and increase my chances of getting work. The whole point of me doing my MA was to stick around for another year and see who I may meet and what opportunities may arise.
What made you decide to progress on from the BA (Hons) TV and Radio course to the MA Children’s Media Production programme?
Throughout my initial BA (Hons) TV and Radio course, several of my assignments were based around children’s television so I quickly began to develop a strong interest in the area. When I made the decision to stay on for another year it made sense to focus my study around a specific genre that I was really interested in. Also, as the University had recently moved to MediaCity UK, literally on the doorstep of CBBC, I felt that it only made sense to take a chance and continue studying for an additional year. I would be foolish not to take a risk and leave it all behind. Then, fortunately, in the first couple of months of my MA the CBBC work placement arose. It was the right decision to make.
What are your long term aspirations?
I don’t really set myself long term aspirations, I prefer to just go along with what I’m doing at present and see what happens. In the near future, however, I’m aiming to move up to researcher level as quickly as possible, and then eventually up to Assistant Producer. This would be a couple of years down the line though, so as I say, I’ll just have to see what happens. My ultimate aim at this point is just to have more of an input and influence on what’s being produced, whether that be planning, developing, shooting, or editing. It’s nice to look at something and think ‘I made that’.
Second year BA (Hons) Visual Arts students were tasked with curating and organising an exhibition as part of their Professional Practice module and they’ve gone about it in a big way. Over the past few weeks, the group of practicing artists have been getting their hands dirty in none other than Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Space in preparation for this Friday night’s opening of Serendipity. Defined as a ‘happy accident’ or ‘pleasant surprise’, Serendipity explores the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. Each artist has produced an individual response to the notion of Serendipity whether they have experimented with new media or explored psychology, politics, or history. Each of them has responded in a unique way to this theme. The ideas led exhibition will present a wide variety of different mediums, giving an insight into the variety of practices undertaken on our Visual Arts course. This group of artists explore difference, yet still remain in context within the meaning and direction of Serendipity.
Start your weekend on the right foot this Friday night between 6-9pm at the private viewing or you can make your way down to the 4th floor of Federation House for a quick look anytime between 11-5pm until next Friday 14th February.
BA (Hons) Popular Music and Recording student, Alice Gasson, ended last year on a high note with the release of her first ever EP Rain Gold. Expanding on her classic soul and R’n’B roots, the 4 track EP showcases Alice’s rich vocals against a backdrop of music genres including disco, neo-soul and gospel. With it being just over a month since Rain Gold’s official launch, we wanted to catch up with the Cardiff born soultress to find out a little bit more about her inspiration, her sound and her work.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Music?
I have always loved to sing as far back as I can remember. When I was growing up, my Dad was a music teacher so he taught me to play the piano from the early age of 4. Most of the music I write today is inspired by my family, friends and music tutors who have all provided me with a tremendous amount of support throughout my career.
Are there any particular artists that you draw inspiration from?
I draw a lot of my ideas from other soul musicians like John Legend, Mary J Blige, Angie Stone, Alicia Keys and many more. In addition to soul music, my music is also influenced by a wide variety of genres across jazz, disco, funk, electronic, classical and rock, which I quite like because I don’t necessarily have to adhere to a set genre.
Tell us a little bit about your latest Rain Gold EP.
This time last year, I decided that I wanted to release an EP that expressed my own love for music, people and life. I had already written a couple songs that I wanted to use but I still needed one or two more strong tracks to complete the overarching theme of the EP. Then last April, I had the privilege of going to Dubai with my housemate for three weeks to stay with her family and it was while I was there, that I was inspired to write the title track Rain Gold. The concept came from experiencing just how bright, golden and exciting life was over in Dubai and contrasting that against the negative reputation that Salford often gets in the press. I wanted to write something that brought that same feeling of ‘gold’ back into the city of Salford. The entire process of producing Rain Gold, from writing the music and working with the musicians to recording and releasing the final EP, has been one of the best experiences of my life. It gave me the opportunity to put my whole heart into something that people could keep and listen to over and over again.
Have you got any other new releases due out soon?
At the moment, I am planning on releasing a new single in the summer, which I have just started recording. This single, entitled ‘We Won’t Let Go’, is going to be slightly different to the very ‘live’ feel of my previous EP but I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be another great project and something that I can use to hopefully produce a full album next year.
What do you feel you’ve gained from studying Music at the University of Salford?
My three years at the University of Salford have been the best three years of my life, and I don’t say that lightly. I could have gone to any university and studied any other subject whilst maintaining my love for music on the side, but if I was going to pursue a career in music, I was going to be fully committed and get a degree in it too. Choosing to study Music at University of Salford has been the best choice I’ve ever made. The flexibility of the BA (Hons) Popular Music and Recording course has allowed me to not only develop the skills I need, but more importantly, to pursue different areas of music that really interests me. Also, the fact that the teaching staff all work within the music industry is amazing and a huge asset to anyone on the course.
The University’s proximity to Manchester City centre has also enabled me to attend and perform a number of music gigs as well as build up a great deal of industry contacts throughout my studies. One major thing that I feel I’ve gained over the last two and half years at University of Salford is the close friendships that I have made with international students. The University has a quite a high population of overseas students and it has been amazing to become friends with a lot of them and keep connections growing all over the world…definitely one of the top reasons to go there!
As a final year music student, have you got any tips or suggestions for prospective or first year Salford students?
The one thing I would say to prospective students is that if you’re passionate about pursuing a career in the degree you are studying then don’t leave it until after you graduate to try your hand at the job market. Build up your work experience during your studies so that you’re in good standing in your field by the time you finish University. Love what you do and if you find that you aren’t enjoying it anymore, then take a break! It can be so easy to keep pushing your work and forget why you’re doing it!
BSc (Hons) Media Technology graduate, Bryan Davies, has just short of two weeks before he becomes Bloomberg TV’s newest Broadcast Engineer. The 23 year old jack of all trades still cannot believe that he has managed to secure the job of his dreams at one of the world’s largest television networks for global business and markets news. Between packing his things and finding a place to rent in London, Bryan has quite a lot on his plate these days but he’s still managed to get in touch and fill us in on his new killer job.
What will you be doing in your new role at Bloomberg TV?
Working alongside the rest of the Bloomberg news team, I will be involved in all areas of the news channel from operating studio equipment, cameras, sound desks, and vision mixers to editing pre-recorded programmes that have been sent from all around the world. Finally, and probably most importantly, I will be responsible for ensuring that the Bloomberg TV channel is actually transmitting pictures out for the viewers to see!
What do you hope to gain from this outstanding opportunity?
New experiences, more contacts…all of the above really! Landing a job at a company like Bloomberg is a massive achievement and a fantastic opportunity so I’m dead excited about furthering my development at one of the biggest news companies in the world. I’m also looking forward to meeting a lot of different and inspiring people who share my passion for media and technology. I firmly believe that one can never have too many professional contacts and especially not in an industry like media where word of mouth plays such a vital role to your employment and overall success.
So how did you land this wicked job?
I got the job with a lot of help from a consultant named Barrie of Venator Recruitment, which is a broadcast recruitment agency. Barrie had gotten in touch with me a few times about roles down south but I was always a bit apprehensive. I’ve lived in Manchester my whole life so moving all the way down to London is a massive thing for me. I told him I would consider making the big move if it was for the right company and the right position. Then lo and behold, Bloomberg showed an interest in me and from there it was a no brainer! Over the next six weeks, I managed to get through a phone interview, four separate interviews with Bloomberg engineers, a 50 question exam and an interview with the HR department. It was pretty intense but well worth it in the end.
How did your experience on the BSc (Hons) Media Technology course help you get to where you are now?
Well first off, I wouldn’t have stood a chance at passing Bloomberg’s interview exam if it weren’t for the solid foundation of subject knowledge that I gained from my course. It’s impossible to be an expert on everything there is to know about media, but you can know a little about a lot. What the BSc (Hons) Media Technology course provided me with was a broad range of skills and knowledge so I was well prepared for entering industry. To be very honest, it wasn’t only the course content that was fantastic. If it weren’t for the lecturers like Laurence Murphy, Fiona Broadbent and Ash Tidball, I would have really struggled to make it through the course. They all dedicated tons of time into our development and especially now that I’ve secured this position, I’m eternally grateful for all their help and support. On top of all that, it also helps when you get to learn the trade using the industry’s very best equipment at MediaCity.
What are your long term aspirations?
Who knows?! With a company like Bloomberg, the world really is my oyster! I am quite excited at the prospects of possibly being transferred to one of Bloomberg’s head offices in New York or Singapore in future, but for now I just want to crack on and learn as much as I can in my new role!
Any tips for our current students?
Just that all students at Salford, especially media students, should make the most of the facilities while they can because it’s a huge advantage to be working in and around that equipment before stepping foot into industry! Oh and I guess my final ‘words of wisdom’ would have to be that if I can make it through university and land a killer job, then anyone can!