‘Sound The Ocean’ to play Hamilton

Wintec Master of Arts student Nick Kraenzlin will be playing in Hamilton this Saturday night, as part of the new band Sound The Ocean. Nick is also the recipient of a Wintec Postgraduate Research Award.

Sound the Ocean comprises seven Hamilton music teachers by day – who become seven musicians by night. Initially performing as the Nick Kraenzlin Band in 2010, a rebrand led to the name change and a line-up comprised of Nick Kraenzlin (vocals/acoustic guitar), former flatmates Brendon Rickard (drums, vocals) and Jason Henderson (electric guitar), Jon Clarke (bass guitar/vocals) and Brett Wilson (electric guitar, vocals). Rounding out the group is Nick’s wife Amanda (vocals/percussion) and Jesse Te Weehi (keyboards).

The group’s debut album, Wait for the Morning (slated for release in 2013), was penned by Nick as a suite of thematically-linked songs as part of his portfolio for his Master of Arts degree. After recording demos at The Porch (nestled in rural Waikato), the band set off for Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios to track the album. 

Sound the Ocean play in Hamilton on Saturday, Dec 1st at Eastside Youth Hall (corner of East St and Tramway Rd) along with November Zulu, Fly By Wire and Aaron Boyens. 8pm. $10 at the door. In their live shows the band reportedly deliver ‘stadium-ready, anthemic pop/rock songs equally as wide as the horizon and deep as the ocean’.

Connect with Sound The Ocean on Twitter and Facebook, and have a look at the teaser clip below.

The Trons go to Malaysia

It’s not every day you get a surprise call from the New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia, let alone an invitation to visit. Recent graduate Greg Locke had just completed his final Bachelor of Media Arts (Honours) presentation and was having a celebratory drink when the phone rang, inviting his robot band the Trons to perform in Kuala Lumpur during New Zealand Week 2012. “The idea was that the band would demonstrate how arts and technology can be combined, thus showcasing the use of science in a fun and innovative way,” says Greg. “It was also a way to promote Wintec and New Zealand tertiary institutions to Malaysian students.”

The Trons performed at the gala launch of the week, billed as ‘New Zealand’s premiere robotic band’. There were five shows in all, one as part of the opening, performing to alumni, diplomats, and media, with the other performances for students at the Science Institute. “All the shows were excellent – the students were really into it, not holding back to be involved with the band, and ask questions. They even started a Mexican wave at one point.”

The New Zealand Week event is organised by the NZ Government as an opportunity for companies, business groups and academic institutions to come together and associate their brands with New Zealand’s reputation for innovation and creativity.

Greg is a musician, artist and electronic engineer and began developing the Trons in 2008. The band has no human members – all instruments are played by robots built from junk and salvaged electronics. Since their Fringe Festival debut in 2008, the Trons have toured twice through Europe, playing at music festivals, art galleries and technology expos.

The practical part of Greg’s year of Honours study involved a full strip down and rebuild of the band, developing the sounds and playing abilities of the machines, and writing and recording a new album of songs. There was also a lot of research into related genres, such as other machine music, garage rock, and generative music, he says. “The latter is an area explored by artists such as Brian Eno and John Cage, and applying these ideas resulted in the Trons now being able to improvise on top of their programmed songs. I was very happy with the overall outcome.”

Greg found the focused and structured process required for the degree kept him on track, developing aspects he hadn’t even envisaged at the beginning of the year. “Doubling the band’s ability seems to have given twenty times the song writing potential so I have plenty to work away on for a few years. The support of the music department was vital, and along with the theory part of the program it all came together as a fantastic experience.”

Greg will be doing a release of the work created last year, and is looking at a couple of tours. He has also had more gig requests from overseas, is interested in developing some of the visual aspects of the band too, and would like to get funding for some music videos. “Really, it is just how much time-wise I can do!”

Greg was awarded a development grant from the Wintec Foundation to assist with costs for the trip. Established as an independent charitable trust in 2008, the Foundation offers all Wintec alumni the opportunity to apply for grants and will help fund innovative projects that can make a difference to individual students and staff, to Wintec as a whole, and to the wider Waikato community. The next round closes in July.

Graduate film debuted at Seattle Film Festival

Wintec Media Arts graduate Lisa Brown’s short thriller ‘Zach’s Plan’ has gained international recognition.

The film, which addresses central character Tom’s suspicions of brother Zach, is set to showcase at the world’s largest youth film festival – the National Film Festival for Talented Youth – in Seattle later this month.

What was at first a written script for a third-year assignment quickly became real when Miss Brown decided to bring her words to life, in her second semester.

Her crew of set designer/makeup artist/editor Deborah Fitz-Herbert, boom operator Amanda McCloughen, lighting director Simon Cramer, music mixer Joel Comer and camera operators Andrew Wells and Elizabeth Campbell helped the writer, producer and director bring her film about questionable motive and sanity to life.

The suspenseful scenes of Tom (central character) and brother Zach were shot over four days at Manawaru, Te Aroha with her crew of fellow moving image classmates.

Never thinking her psychological storyline would lead her to join 699 other short film submissions on a global stage at Seattle, current honours student Brown discovered the competition by clicking on a Google website advertisement.

“I saw it there [NFFTY advertisement] and thought, oh yip… that could be interesting. I texted Deb (film editor) and she said ‘yeah, do it’.”

Once she had sent the screener (teaser of the film) and US$30 entry fee to the festival organisers it felt like an age before the post-graduate student received a reply.

Miss Brown was interning at Godzone Pictures as production assistant, following work as stage manager for comedy production The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, when she received the good news.

Brown and Fitz-Herbert could only just afford the $1600 flight to LA and $400 train tickets to San Francisco and then Seattle.  The School of Media Arts put forward $1000 to help them with this amzing opportunity.

Her film screened at the 11pm screening at the Seattle International Film Festival Cinema on April 30 2011.

The four day festival hosted 25 countries, 40 US States and kicked off with an Opening Night Gala at the Space Needle (600 feet tall).

The two film buffs flew out on April 11 and walked the red carpet on April 28 before mingling with fellow filmmakers at the opening party.

2010 Honours graduate wins worldwide guitar scholarship

screenshotGabe Dovaston has recently been announced as the runner-up for internationally-acclaimed scholarship, “The Steve Vai Scholarship”.

 After entering the world-wide guitar competition earlier this year for a chance at winning a fully paid one-year scholarship, Gabe recently received news of his place as runner-up.

The partial scholarship covers half of the 5000 pounds that it costs to study the one year Higher Diploma Guitar Course at ‘The Institute‘ in London, England.

Gabe first graduated from Wintec with a Bachelor of Media Arts (Commercial Music) in March 2009, and later graduated with a BMA Honours (first class) in April 2010.

It looks as though all of that study and dedication has paid off, with a new endeavour ahead of him for the coming year, starting studies in October 2011.

” I didn’t win…but out of the whole world I came second (Steve Vai chose me as runner up) winning the partial scholarship which is half the course paid”, says Gabe.

Japan cultural exchange: Emily Russell

Media Arts (Visual Arts) Honours Graduate Emily Russell got the opportunity to travel to Japan earlier this year as part of a cultural exchange, and to participate in a student conference.

The conference was a chance for students from China, Phillipenes, Australia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand to talk about projects they have been working on during their tertiary studies.

Emily’s Honours year (2010) was spent working on an online-based magazine, “Riff-Raff”, which is dedicated to uncovering and celebrating the arts and creative talent within Hamilton and its’ community.

I got the chance to talk to Emily about her experience in Japan, and where her project is taking her this year!

How did you get involved in this trip?

I first heard about this opportunity from the Head of Media Arts Margi Moore. While working on my honours project downstairs I received a Facebook message to come up and see her in her office. I wasn’t sure what she wanted to see me for, so when she suggested there could be a chance to send me to Japan to represent Wintec and talk about my honours project I was most excited and thrilled about this possibility.

 What did you expect from this trip? 

I expected there would obviously be a language barrier but luckily because it was an English speaking conference, I was relieved that I didn’t have to learn the language before going!  I envisaged there would be lots of different cultures that I could get to know and interact with during my visit.

 Explain what you did throughout your time in Japan.

Over the 9 days we experienced warm welcomes everywhere we went and were looked after extremely well. After arriving in Osaka, then traveling on two trains; we arrived in Okayama where the student conference was held. Students from China, Philippines, Australia and the Czech Republic had all been invited to attend the conference. We started the day by introducing the schools we were from then spoke about our research projects. The next day everyone from the conference visited the Mitsubishi Motors factory then to Kurashiki for some history research. After the student conference we took a train to Matsue where we arrived to it snowing. Matsue is where our host school was located; we presented our research projects to the school and shared our schooling lives with the students. The students of Matsue School of Technology took us to the Shimane Art Museum, where we saw some original photographs from Ansell Adams, Man Ray, and Cecil Beaton. After visiting many shrines, castles, and a few snowball fights later we took a train to Izumo and flew to Tokyo then back to NZ.

What was your most memorable part of the trip?

The Japanese food was definately a big highlight. I have always loved Japanese food and appreciate their immaculate attention to detail. I was lucky enough to go to a cooking lesson where we made okashi- which is a Japanese sweet. One of my favourite places we went to eat was a place called Cherry Blossom, which was a traditional establishment where we sat on the floor to eat lunch. All aspects of the trip were memorable; from meeting people from different cultures at the student conference to eating at sushi trains. Having heated toilet seats and hot towels everywhere we went were also a bit of a treat. I have learnt a lot about the Japanese culture; they are hardworking and dedicated to gift giving, they bike everywhere even in the snow and with high heel shoes on! I enjoyed getting to know such a caring and humble culture throughout my trip.


What are you working on at the moment and how is your involvement with Media Arts benefiting you as a designer?

With the support from Media Arts and with the use of Wintec’s facilities; my project is able to be continued and developed further this year.

What started as an Honours project last year is an internet-based publication ‘Riff Raff’, named after the cast bronze sculpture of Richard O’Brian’s ‘Rocky Horror’ character on Victoria Street. The idea about sharing provoked and inspired me to start this project to share with you and the Hamilton community.  The aim is to expose local Hamilton talent around the arts and share it with the community.

This year I am working closely with Rochelle Jones and Sophie Boladeras and the Hamilton community to launch Riff Raff issues three and four.  I have high expectations for the year ahead and look forward to sharing future issues with you.

Keep an eye out on the development of Emily’s project by following ‘Riff Raff’s’  Facebook Page.



Postgraduate profile: Emily Russell and ‘Riff Raff’

 Bachelor of Media Arts (Honours) student Emily Russell has had a busy year to date, alternating between stimulating collaborative interaction and many lone hours at the computer.

Emily’s Honours project includes completing two issues of internet-based publication ‘Riff Raff’, named after the cast bronze sculpture of Richard O’Brian’s ‘Rocky Horror’ character on Victoria Street. The aim is to expose local Hamilton talent and share it with the community. The launch of ‘Riff Raff’ Issue Two is happening at 6pm 26th November 2010, at Ramp Gallery, Collingwood St, Hamilton.

We asked Emily some questions about her project and the inspiration behind it.

Emily: Deciding on what to do for my Honours project wasn’t a hard one as this type of magazine was something that I had felt for a while that Wintec and the Hamilton community was lacking. I am big on sharing so that’s what provoked and inspired me to get started on this project. Having always worked with a hands-on approach I wanted to challenge myself and go where technology is taking us, which is to produce a purely digital online publication. ‘Riff Raff’ e-mag is one that enables Wintec students and the wider community to contribute to it.

The project started by putting up flyers seeking writers and photographers to be a part of the project. Once I had interest I then met up and discussed the project with keen contributors, asking what they enjoyed writing about. Topics were discussed and deadlines were set in place.

After many late nights of designing and gathering content from enthusiastic contributors, the first ever ‘Riff Raff’ issue was launched at W Block gallery, on the 22nd of July, where we shared home-made lemonade and mini lemon cupcakes (all 200 made by my sister and I). The event ran for two hours with the e-publication projected onto the wall of the gallery. The night also showcased artists’ work from the publication, and there were computers set up for closer interaction with the e-mag.

It was important that the night reflected the publication as much as possible. To ensure this, I collected vintage plates and jugs from op shops for the lemonade and cupcakes to go on, which had a nice link to Kerrie Felton’s op shopping story and the recipe section published in the issue. Invite cards were made to advertise the evening event. An event page on Facebook was also set up and sent round, which was a great indicator to how many people would attend and how many cupcakes we needed to make! The night was used for networking and making connections with artists, writers and photographers and the Hamilton community – generally acknowledging the people involved and sharing their work with the public.

DT: What have been the main things you’ve learned during the process?

 E: I set a challenge to learn and take on an editing role that I wasn’t familiar with to ensure that my project would work to my expectations. I have learnt how to coordinate and collaborate with Wintec students and Hamilton creatives to produce a visually provoking e-magazine, which I hope is inspiring and appealing to a diverse readership. I’ve been truly impressed with the amount of amazing things that are happening in Hamilton and have enjoyed the process of producing the e-mag to illustrate this.

 DT: How did the theoretical aspects of your postgraduate study support the creation of the magazine?

E: The theories studied alongside my practical project have helped me to develop the ability to think critically and apply skills and knowledge to my practical project. This knowledge has provided me with a greater understanding of the way we discuss things beyond my own experience.

DT: What has been the best part so far?

E: I’ve had a lot of fun while making this project, and collaborating with others to put together an e-mag that I can then share with the community has been rewarding. Collaboration plays a big part in making this project possible; without contributors this project wouldn’t be as strong as it is. The e-publication is a team effort and one that gives me extreme pleasure to be a part of.

 This project makes me feel satisfied, and makes me feel like I am making a contribution to something that’s bigger than just me. It’s been an exciting project and I am so grateful to the abundance of talented people who have contributed to both Issue One and Two.

DT: What can people expect at the launch?

 E: Issue One featured the work of Media Arts students at Wintec; their poems and photography, articles about ‘where and why to op shop’, popular local band Knights of The Dub Table, recipes to share, guides to making cool projects as well as a review on popular Hamilton eateryRiver Kitchen.

‘Riff Raff’ Issue two will be equally full of exciting content as the first and will be launched at Ramp Gallery on the 26th of November with an engaging and interactive experience set up on computers where people will be able to view the e-mag. I am also sharing the space with two other Honours students.

DT: Were you satisfied with the final product being an e-mag rather than hard-copy?

 E: I was satisfied with the final product being an e-mag. Having it online meant that people all over the world could interact with it, getting more out of it than if it were to be a hard copy. Having ‘Riff Raff’ based online achieves a higher readership due to the availability, and is nice connection for those who have left Hamilton.

 DT: What’s next for you? Do you think you’ll continue the mag beyond Honours?

E: Next year I hope to continue to collaborate with Wintec students and the people of Hamilton to produce the e-mags. This is currently being considered.

Masters student wins V48 Hours regional final

An interview with MA student Micah Puklowski, who won the 2010 Hamilton V48 Hour Regional Finals with team ‘Reel Good People’ and Gone.

Can you describe the process of making Gone?
Friday night we got the elements and the ‘time travel’ genre. We discussed ideas over Hell Pizza for about 2 hours and then decided on our storyline. Lead actress Ezra O’Connell (a Media Arts Certificate student) was going to be stuck in a time loop trying to save her younger sister Sydney Manson (her real sister, Janet O’Connell).

I knew I wanted to include some form of a car crash and have a complete circular narrative and so the twist would be her attempt to save her sister’s life would be the reason she dies…we were aiming for drama and a big climax with the crash, to wow audiences.

We drove to Raglan, slept and got up bright and early to start shooting with the sun at 5.30am. Unfortunately for us we had to wait an hour for the sun to rise, sitting in the dark eating chips and drinking V, trying to stay motivated. We shot for 12 hours in five locations around Raglan with breaks in between each scene for food, costume and make-up changes and were done by 6pm Saturday.

Tara Proctor (my producer and a Wintec Interior Design student) and I drove back to Hamilton, where I spent the rest of my time editing, sound mixing, scoring and completing our film. After 45 hours it was finished and after making a few last-minute changes, stressing when my final cut wouldn’t print to tape, I grabbed the back-up dvd and headed for the finish line, sick and tired but happy.

How did you feel to hear you’d won?
We were so excited to be nominated for 6 awards and hoped to win at least one, like Best All Girls Group, so to win four was totally amazing. It wasn’t until later Friday night after the awards when it really hit me and I was like, wow, high five, we just won best picture!

How many times have you entered V48 Hours?
This year is my fourth competition, but third leading my own team of Reel Good People. It was the second time Ezra and I have been in a team together and Tara and Janet’s first year. Last year my team also made it into the Hamilton finals so this year I was really determined to learn from that experience and try to make a film that was a complete story and didn’t just end (which can easily happen with the time factor).

What will your next project be? Are you able to use the prizes you’ve won?
Currently we are hoping to buy a new hi-def camera to use on our future projects, which we have begun brainstorming for. We’ve already decided on making another few short films during our Wintec holidays to help lead up to hopefully making something to enter in some international short film festivals.

You’re currently a Master of Arts student at Media Arts – what is your study focussing on?
For my Master of Arts project this year I am adapting a New York Times best-selling novel ‘Impulse’ by Ellen Hopkins into a feature length script.

Any links to websites/showreels?
My You Tube page has a reel from last year and a few projects including an edited down version of my 2009 48hr film: http://www.youtube.com/user/reelgoodpictures

Anything else you’d like to add?
We were sponsored by United Video Frankton. And final words would be “good luck to all the teams in the Finals next week!”