Master of Design Technology

Overview

Want to tell interesting stories using time-based digital media? The Master of Design Technology (MDT) is designed to build upon the existing digital media skills you’ve acquired in an undergraduate degree.

Learn industry leading software, techniques and professional practices from our experienced lecturers in visual effects (VFX), game design, animation, extended reality (XR), exhibition design and multimedia design.

It’s taught at the Miramar Creative Centre (a partnership with Miramar Creative) among the Weta group buildings on Park Road and offers unrivalled access to work experience and professional connections. We’re proudly supported by Weta Digital with guest lectures and mentoring. We’re, also, a certified SideFX Houdini Certified Partner.

This programme is unique to New Zealand in providing students with the best expertise in both university research and industry practice with which to gain the skills they need for a future in the broad based and rapidly growing technology sector.

You can find further information about the MDT, including detailed course lists, on the Wellington ICT Graduate School website.

Programme structure

MDT is a one-year (full-time) 180-point programme that starts in March each year. Students will produce a professional portfolio based around their chosen focus of study. The practicum that concludes the programme will involve creating a time-based short narrative work produced in teams with the guidance of faculty and industry mentors.

Courses:

  • MDDN 451 - Creative Coding for Digital Content: This course will teach students computer graphics techniques that are used as current practice in the film industry through a range of projects ranging from generating special effects to the algorithmic treatment of media. Using Houdini and the Vex programming language students will build procedural models and parametric tools, generate environments, grow complex systems and more.
  • MDDN 421 - Compositing and Motion Graphics (elective): This course will teach students professional approaches to previsualisation, production planning and coordination including workflows for post-production and compositing. Students will progress to asset creation, which may include live action plates, set extensions, visual effects elements, matte painting, and modelling. The primary software for this course will be Nuke from The Foundry
  • MDDN 432 - Character Animation (elective): This course will teach students how to analyse and create digital animated sequences with a strong focus on using character-based animation to convey compelling and emotive narratives. It’ll focus on technical workflows, skills, and good practices for animating complex characters and will culminate in a final animated short. Students will primarily be using the industry standard 3D platform Maya from Autodesk.
  • CCDN 412 - Mātauranga Design:This course will teach students how to engage with toi (Māori creativity) and mātauranga (Māori understanding) in the production of both visual and material cultural design that honours our place and past in Aotearoa New Zealand. Guided by traditional Māori protocols and knowledge, students will learn how to understand and interact with Māori symbols and visual spatial strategies in ways that are culturally sound and appropriate.
  • CCDN422 - Design Ideation: This course is an advanced investigation of a range of topics relevant to professional practice in design practice today including branding, marketing, networking, presentation, and portfolio. Students will consider both traditional and emergent approaches to these topics while demonstrating an autonomous design style and content.
  • MDDN431 - Lighting and Rendering (elective): This course will teach students about traditional applications of lighting such as portraiture, practical studio lighting, and cinematography. You’ll develop a mastery of digital lighting and rendering software in creative focus in areas such as CG animation, games, VR, and motion capture. Working primarily in the 3D software packages Houdini and Unreal, this course will focus on the fundamentals of telling a story through scene construction.
  • MDDN422 - Effects and Simulation (elective): This course will teach students the skills relating to the creation of creature, human, and mechanical puppet rigs for digital characters, as well as creating digital simulations of physical phenomena. The principle software for this course is Houdini.
  • MDDN541 – Visual Effects Practicum: This course consists of a supervised practicum, working on design studio-based research and production. Students will work in teams to produce a complete time-based short narrative work with the guidance of faculty and industry mentors.

Who should apply

People who hold a passion for creative technologies, and are committed to learning the deep levels of skills and knowledge required of the industry, are ideal candidates for this programme. Applicants for the Master of Design Technology should already have some understanding of digital design technologies, while looking to develop their skills appropriate for the Visual Effects, Game Design, Exhibition Design and Multimedia Design Industries.

All applicants for the Master of Design Technology should have:

  • completed a Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with good grades
  • been accepted by the Head of School of Design
  • a proven aptitude with a 3D computer graphics application (such as but not limited to Maya, Houdini, or ZBrush).

Who will be teaching you

Raqi Syed
Raqi Syed.

Raqi Syed

Raqi Syed began her career in feature animation as an Assistant Technical Director for Disney Feature Animation on films such as Meet the Robinsons and later as a Lighting Artist on Tangled. She then went on to work as a Senior Technical Director with Weta Digital on films like Avatar, The Planet of the Apes films, and The Hobbit Trilogy. A full list of her film credits can be found over at IMDB.

As a film student at the University of Southern California, Raqi was a Mary Pickford Scholar. While completing her MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute for Modern Letters, she was awarded the Dominion Post Fellowship for her thesis. More recently, The Los Angeles Times pegged Raqi for its list of 100 Industry professionals who can help fix Hollywood’s Diversity Problem. She is a member of Women in VR and is actively involved in the Wellington VR community.

Mark Stanger
Mark Stanger.

Mark Stanger

Mark Stanger is an award-winning character and creature animator with 20 years industry experience.

Mark has worked at Weta Digital since 2009 as an animator on ground-breaking productions like Avatar, Tintin, The Avengers, The Hobbit Trilogy, The Planet of Apes films and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Prior to that Mark had extensive experience as an animator and animation supervisor on Emmy, VES and Annie award winning animated television programs.

After completing a degree in Visual Arts with honours in drawing and painting at the University of Victoria in Canada, Mark went on to earn diplomas in both classical and computer animation from Sheridan College.

While working on cutting edge visual effects films Mark continues to ground his practice in drawing and performance recently studying for a summer at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and also running the figure drawing sessions at the Wellington Art Club in Miramar.

Check out his IMDb

Mark is teaching MDDN 432 Character Animation

Arieto Echevarria
Arieto Echevarria.

Areito Echevarria

Areito Echevarria is an Academy Award winning visual effects artist with over 20 years of film industry experience, specializing in Compositing and Effects Animation. Most recently Areito was the Head of the FX Department at Weta Digital where he supervised a team of over 50 FX artists, animators and developers. Prior to that he held roles as a Compositing Supervisor at Weta Digital, Framestore and The Mill in London and Iloura in Melbourne.

Areito's feature film experience includes work on films such as War for the Planet of the Apes, Godzilla, The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar and Black Hawk Down. In 2014 Areito was Awarded the Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his work developing Deep Compositing, a technology that fundamentally changed the nature of compositing workflows in the feature film industry.

Areito also has three Visual Effects Society Awards nominations for outstanding FX animation and compositing. He is currently pursuing research in game design and artificial intelligence for virtual reality.

Check out his IMBD

Areito delivered MDDN 421 Compositing and Motion Graphics as part of the Master of Design Technology programme in trimester 1 2017.

How to apply

You can enrol Enrol via our online enrolment system

Applicants will need to submit a portfolio that exhibits creativity and digital proficiency. We are most interested in time-based media that demonstrates capability in a 3-D software package and an interest in storytelling. Examples of the kinds of work we'd like to see: short narrative films, play-throughs of games or mixed reality experiences,  and turntables and animation tests for digital characters and assets.

We are also happy to evaluate drawings such as concept art, storyboards, and character development, though these should be supported by time-based media work. Please submit 2-D work as a pdf and 3-D work as a link to a Youtube, Vimeo, or movie file hosted on a server that can easily be accessed by our faculty.

All applications must include a breakdown of videos and images. A breakdown is a shot by shot explanation of the software and techniques used to construct the image. If any marketplace elements have been used, please indicate that here. Otherwise, explain very briefly how all assets were created and rendered (if appropriate).

Submit your portfolio via our online enrolment system (.doc .rtf .pdf .docx). Or in one of the following formats (web, paper, PDF, USB), by email to design@vuw.ac.nz or drop it into the Faculty of Architecture and Design reception.

How to apply as an international student

To apply, simply download and complete the International Application Form. You will need to apply in writing and courier your application to Victoria International—the University’s international office. You cannot apply by email or fax.

Courier your completed application to:

Victoria International, Victoria University of Wellington, Level 2, Easterfield Building, Kelburn Campus, Kelburn Parade, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

Find out more about how to apply or contact Victoria International for more information about fees, entry requirements and applying for a student visa.

Find out more

Check out the Wellington ICT Graduate School website or contact Lauren Locke on lauren.locke@wellingtonict.ac.nz or +64 22 563 8595 for more information about the Master of Design Technology.

If you need help deciding what degree might be right for you, or what courses to take, talk with a liaison officer or book a course planning session with us, call 0800 VICTORIA (842 867) or email course-advice@vuw.ac.nz.

If you are a returning or transferring student, contact the faculty student and academic services office, for help with degree planning and for information on admission requirements and transfer credit from other institutions.