2020 Christie® Design Award recipients show creativity as well as resiliency

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Digital Arts Communication students Alexis Condotta, Jean Do, Carly McLeod, and Evelyn Vo received the top Christie Design Award for their projection mapping composition “BRB (Be Right Back)”. The team will share a $2500 prize for their winning work.

Not familiar with projection mapping? Most of the time, we see digital content projected on a flat screen. Projection mapping technology lets creators turn any object into a canvas – such as a building or outdoor space. This year, Christie challenged students to create short video compositions with audio to be projected on a 3D model of Kitchener City Hall.

BRB made full use of the space with four video clips coordinated to play on different areas of the building. The main video features the central narrative of a young woman’s increasing frustration with personal grooming and society’s expectations of beauty, while three supporting videos show the woman brushing her hair, applying mascara and looking at herself in the mirror – all running on a loop to emphasize the endless repetition of the character’s morning routine.

To get the full effect, trying playing all four videos at once and turn on the sound for one video:

Remote video URL
Remote video URL
Remote video URL
Remote video URL

“This was a great opportunity to work with a team of creative minds to bring our story to life,” says Carly McLeod. “This project was neat since there were very few restrictions, we had a lot of freedom to explore just about any subject.”

“The winning team’s piece was beautiful, and it had an aesthetic quality that impacted me as an audience member,” said Rob Danisch, chair of the Department of Communication Arts and competition judge alongside staff from Christie and alumnus Heather Haavaldsrud (BA ’94, English). “As a story it was also really well structured and engaging and relevant to the student experience.”

3D model of Kitchener City hall showing where the videos would be projected

A 3D model of Kitchener City Hall serves showing where the videos would be displayed. The #1 area is where the video featuring the main narrative is displayed, while the other three areas show looping clips.

Second place ($1000) was awarded to “In the Name of Progress” by Josée-Claire Malenfant. Combining footage of Kitchener-Waterloo locations with hand-drawn animations, the projection superimposes the natural habitat with the built environment.

Third place ($500) was a tie between “Routine Movement” by Nancy Le and “Pasta La Vista” by Michaela Waugh. “Routine Movement” juxtaposes familiar Waterloo campus locations with the main character’s internal thoughts.

“Pasta La Vista” shares the journey of a dropped meat ball in its quest to reunite with spaghetti – including an adorable, near-fatal dog incident.

“The quality of the work despite the really short timeline was impressive,” said Danisch. “I also really liked how thoughtful each of the pieces were. It was clear that the students thought conceptually in interesting ways and then displayed remarkable technical skills in making those conceptual ideas real in such a short timeline.”

A new approach for 2020

Christie Digital’s interest in storytelling and narrative made it a natural fit to offer the award to students in DAC 302: Digital Storytelling, taught by Shana MacDonald, professor of Communication Arts and expert in digital media and performance art.

When classes went remote due to COVID-19, the competition likewise went through a few changes. Unable to test their designs on the 3D model, competitors instead submitted plans on how the videos would be projected. This year’s unusual circumstances highlight not only the creativity of the winners, but also their perseverance and resilience.

“The students did an incredible job of keeping their focus and committing to completing their projects despite the challenges they faced in the last three weeks of term,” says MacDonald. “They were generous and supportive of each other, sharing productive suggestions during online feedback sessions, and creating a really strong collaborative environment where their different ideas and skill sets could emerge.”

“Although this project was challenging, our team is extremely pleased with the results,” says Evelyn Vo. “Thank you Christie for giving us an amazing opportunity to bring our idea to life.”

A special thank you to Christie, one of the most innovative visual technology companies in the world. Since 2013, Christie has partnered with the Faculty of Arts to provide students with opportunities to explore and learn the capabilities of interactive display. The Christie Design Awards provide Waterloo Arts students with an amazing opportunity to tell stories through leading edge technologies.