From the Edges with . . . Renee Henry, Honours in Motion Graphics at Wintec
In our ‘From The Edges’ series we feature Aotearoa NZ Academic Design Projects. Our practice as designers can be seen to be explored, pushed and perhaps become something entirely new where it exists at the edges of our practice in the world of academia. Free from the constraints of commercial outcomes and clients, designers explore and challenge existing paradigms.
In this article, we talk with Renee Henry about her Honours project and postgraduate study in Motion Graphics at Wintec.
What is your background and how did you get to where you are now?
I commenced my graphic design journey in the late 2000’s, but after a couple of years of fulltime study I had to return to my previous occupation. However my love of good design and ingrained pursuit to have a creative career never left me. So, incrementally, I embarked on advancing my qualifications over the years culminating in my Bachelor of Honours in Media Arts at WINTEC.
Can you give us some background on your current project?
My current project is a two minute, illustrated, 2D animated music video. The animation is adapted to Duo De Twangs cover of an instrumental piece called Pipeline. My research and subsequent animation focused on the cinematic codes and conventions of Spaghetti Westerns, specifically Sergio Leone’s Westerns, and how they could be used to create a visual narrative in an animated music video.
Apart from my manual illustrations, I created the animation in Adobe Animate, with assistance from Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects.
What were the catalysts or inspirations for your Honours project in Motion Graphics?
In my final undergraduate year I decided to create album art and associated new release collateral for a fictious alternative rock band called Cold Green Lizard Sweats. I thoroughly enjoyed all practical and research aspects of the process and the project left me wanting to further develop into visual design for music. After a bit of thought and a few wines, I came to the conclusion that an animated music video would be the next logical step.
What was the most challenging part of your research thus far, and how did you overcome this?
The first challenge I encountered was the realisation that Spaghetti Westerns are very slow. Sergio Leone’s build-up of tension and drama was considerably longer than typical action and climax scenes. This discovery presented a problem as the music and the planned animation was two minutes long. Unfortunately, I had to cut parts of the animation but thankfully the edits did not forsake the Spaghetti Western’s codes and conventions.
The second challenge was the technical skills required to build the animation to an expected level. My limited technical experience affected the intricacies of the animation’s narrative and progression. I was constantly troubleshooting my process and the animation program during the project. Staying committed to the project, good communication with my supervisors and persistence helped me overcome this challenge.
Why did you choose this particular program/Wintec to complete your Honours?
The WINTEC Program was recommended to me by a previous student. She had a positive experience, so I decided to go to WINTEC’s Open Day. After speaking to some of the lecturers and comparing costs and content with other educational providers, I decided to give WINTEC a shot.
As I lived in Tauranga and COVID was still looming, my communication with my supervisors was prominently remote via emails and Zoom. However, I felt supported throughout my studies and never thought I was not getting value from the program.
How has your Honours Degree impacted upon your own design practice?
The honours year took my creativity and discipline to a whole new level. It was incredibility challenging at times and I feel that it shifted my design practice closer to a professional state. The process also reinforced to me that research and testing are vital to producing good design.
What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
My immediate goal is to work with industry professionals to increase my experience, outside of an academic setting. I feel that this is a necessary step to grow into a well-rounded graphic and motion designer. In the future, I hope to merge my new love of motion design with visual arts to produce animated body of works to my favourite pieces of music.
How can people follow you or where can we see more of your own work?
You can see more of my work at https://www.behance.net/reneehenrydesign