Academic and Industry Heavy Hitters Join Forces for Master of Design

Concept art by Weta Workshop Design Studio

Internships. Industry experience. Inside knowledge. Concept artists eager to advance their skills in the entertainment industry can now learn from the award-winning Weta Workshop in a new venture with Massey University and its Master of Design programme. Focusing on Entertainment Design for film, television, and gaming, the collaboration presents a unique educational experience aimed at attracting both domestic and international postgraduate students alongside those already in the industry.  The partnership matches world-leading concept design artistry with internationally recognized academic design expertise. Find out more on the website.

Where Academic Meets Industry

Bringing the cutting-edge expertise of a full-service design studio, creative heavyweight Weta Workshop counts films like Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner 2049, District 9, Avatar, and The Hobbit among its recent work. Providing the academic pedigree of a world-leading design institution is Massey University, whose School of Design was recently ranked number one 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.

Concept art from Ghost in the Shell by Weta Workshop concept artist Adam Middleton

At the helm of the programme are supervisors Tanya Marriott – a multidisciplinary designer and former Weta Workshop artist who is now a senior lecturer with expertise in animation, illustration, and play and experience design – and Weta Workshop art director and senior concept designer, Paul Tobin who has over 15 years experience in the entertainment industry specializing in world building, creative development and concept design.

Course co-supervisors Paul Tobin and Tanya Marriott

What to Expect

The Masters begins with an intensive learning week. There, students will be introduced to the fundamental concepts and processes of concept design for the entertainment industry. Dubbed ‘Grad Camp,’ the week-long primer is the opportunity to collaborate on a world-building project and features an introduction to Weta Workshop’s design philosophy centred around story, character, and world development. The week will also include presentations by key studio and university creatives.

Paul Tobin and Logan Preshaw in the design studio at Weta Workshop  

In keeping with the ethos of a traditional Masters, self-driven learning is fundamental. As they progress, students will explore and develop their chosen project under the supervision of Paul and Tanya. “There is a huge self-driven learning component to this course,” explains Tanya, “but on top of that, there’s the studio-based learning environment where students will have access to the full range of facilities on the Massey campus. They’ll be spending a lot of time developing their project themselves, but also developing with their peers – critiquing and supporting each other through the learning process.”

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Massey University College of Creative Arts, Wellington, New Zealand

Peppered throughout the course, structured contact time will ‘supercharge’ each project as it takes shape. It’s a valuable opportunity for students to get their project under the microscope of industry, with access to a wider pool of experts who can lend specific assistance. “On these engagement days,” says Paul, “our students will come to Weta Workshop to work with us. We’ll pull in specific crew to help problem-solve their project. It’s a chance for the student to ask questions like, ‘Is what I’m pitching relevant?’ ‘Is this part of the project making sense from an industry standpoint?’”

Adds Tanya: “One side of this process is the student presenting their work to their peers; and the other side is that two-way discourse with industry experts around how they can push their work even further. It’s not until you have that critique that you really have to think about what you’ve created and why, and then actually develop the language to be able to argue it.”

Concept art from GKR by Weta Workshop senior concept designer Christian Pearce

Weta Workshop Internship

Nothing beats hands-on experience in a real-world environment, which is why students will undertake a two-week internship at Weta Workshop as part of their course requirements. Embedded within the Weta Workshop Design Studio alongside the facility’s own team of full-time concept designers, students will be faced with complex design challenges for real clients. It’s a unique opportunity to gain industry experience in the context of an advanced academic enquiry. According to Paul, students will encounter “direct exposure to the realities of working in an industry design studio, and what it’s like to experience a live job situation.” The Masters programme culminates with a written research submission presented alongside a significant body of concept design work.

The cohort will be small; the expectations high. Each successful student will emerge with a Masters in Design from Massey University, ready to make their mark on entertainment industries the world over.

How to Apply

The year-long Masters programme at the Weta Workshop School starts in September 2018 on-site at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington, New Zealand. For a full list of entry criteria, including portfolio requirements and application information for international students, click here.

Apply Now

Applications close on May 31. 


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