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Welcome to the HSAD New Media blog, where we hope to look at some of the dynamic and exciting projects created by the students/student researchers working with us. These may take the form of individual student projects, client related practice and/or client-led projects, works-in-progress, technology development or investigations, student interviews, client feedback as well as other collaborations and studio events.

We hope that the blog will act as a showcase in order for new/prospective students and their current teachers to gain an insight into the range of projects undertaken by HSAD’s New Media students (Web and Games Design), and perhaps even attract projects and industry clients and collaborators from beyond the institutions walls.

If you would like to work with us on future projects as either a venue, a client, research partner or in some other capacity please contact us via the Hull School of Art & Design, we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

P. Starkey and G. Sleightholme, Lecturers in Games Design, HSAD.

HSAD is the Hull School of Art & Design, Kingston Upon Hull, You can contact us via the college, or our respective emails and or twitter accounts.

Gareth Sleightholme, gsleightholme@artdesignhull.ac.uk – @hesir

Paul Starkey, pstarkey@artdesignhull.ac.uk – @PaulStarkey

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1930’s Albion Street, Hull – A Games Design Heritage Project.

Our annual Games Design Yr2 Heritage Project last year took us to the old Georgian quarter of Hull, in and around Albion Street.

Today there is still a few examples that hint at the architectural splendour and social and educational concerns of the original city planners and architects, but the sprawling car park and the replacement buildings that arrived to fill the gaps left by WWII bombing and city rebuilding between the late 1940’s and the 1980’s is a meagre shadow of what the area was, and would have been today had it not been for those terrifying days and nights during the second world war.

Our students have attempted to develop a project that shows some of that splendour. Reimagined here in a games engine (and with the potential as a Film Noir detective game environment), using 3D digital software.

All the assets and items from the textures of the floors and walls, every lamp-post and railing, as well as all the buildings were created from scratch by the students. The final version you see below was shown first at the Central Library (thanks to Matt) and is currently on display in the extended Gallery space here at HSAD.

If you have any questions about the project above, or wish to discuss a project of your own with the team, please contact: Gareth.Sleightholme@hotmail.ac.uk or Paul.Starkey@hotmail.ac.uk.

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Year 2 Games Design – Heritage Showreel 2010-2016

During their Year 2 studies, Games Design students at The Hull School of Art & Design are asked to exhibit work based on their research towards a Local Heritage project. For the last six years these students have produced a set of historic flythroughs and interactive environments that have focused on lost or dramatically altered parts of the city of Hull.

The video above is a compilation of various elements of those projects.

The works have been exhibited at a number of venues around the city and further afield, including: Hull Central Library, local shopping centre pop-up stores and stands, The Hull Heritage Centre, Hull Museums and the Ferens Art Gallery, whilst some of the work was shown as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad at Westminster, London.

Projects have included: The Hull Docks – c 1900; A Roman Oil Lamp’s Journey; The Grimston Sword; Paragon Station – 1914; Whitefriargate – c 1960; Albion Street – c 1930.

These projects which have been running for six years now regularly showcase Games student’s work , and have seen two new works commissioned from the department, the first by Burstall’s solicitors of Lowgate, who have asked for a digital 3D fly-through of their building as it would have looked when built to use as part of their public facing heritage days, and the second a project that sees a Year two Student working towards an animated showcase that will be a collaboration with the Hull University Music Composition students and the Maritime Museum for one of 2017, City of Culture’s first major exhibitions.

If you wish to know more, or are interested in collaborating with us on a local heritage project please contact Gareth Sleightholme: Gareth.Sleightholme@artdesignhull.ac.uk



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The Journey of a Roman Oil Lamp

Submitted as part of the Precious Cargoes Ehibition in Hull, and later exhibited as part of the Cultural Olympiad at Westminster London, the video below was created by Year 2 Games Design Students in 2012 as part of their Interactive Environments module…

The Flythrough below shows the majority of the expansive environment, which is able to be played as a game level.

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Games Design Showreel to view at the Creative & Cultural space, Princess Quay Hull.

Work by Games Design students across the three years of the BA is currently on show at the Creative and Cultural Company‘s gallery and culture space on the bottom deck of the Princes Quay mall, Hull.

A variety of digital environments and experimental projects, as well as several examples of the heritage projects our year two students take part in as part of an ongoing staff and student research project; an outline of which you can find below.

Engaging digital media students in deeper research through social and industrial heritage interpretation.

We have observed a perceptible cultural shift away from library research and deeper reading from print-based media, particularly with students on courses serving technology oriented industries (web, games, graphics and 3D design etc) who can rely heavily on search engine results.

With the aim of engaging students in a full range of deep and more speculative research methods, staff have employed the use of live heritage oriented projects at level 5 (year 2) as a means of extending and enriching research skills, resulting in historical reconstructions of local city spaces and connected historical environments.

The students were encouraged to use more traditional investigative processes (on which most information technology is modelled) as source for their interpretations, in combination with Games development technology.

Having utilised the resources within Hull’s library and museums service, undertaking field trips and observational recording, the students have gained a deeper understanding of how an holistic approach to research and development activity can be applied across their studio practice.

Our projects to date have included:

  • Re-creations of the City’s docks, including Queens Gardens at the start of the 20th Century

(Hull Museum’s Connect/Create exhibition, Ferens Art Gallery)

  • Iron Age sword The journey of an from a Celtic Forge, via a Victorian antiquities collector’s study, to the “stacks” behind the East Riding museum

(Hull Museum’s Connect/Create exhibition, Ferens Art Gallery)

  • Roman oil lamp The journey of a from the potter’s wheel to the ship that brought it to Britain

(Precious Cargo, Westminster, London – selected as part of the national exhibition, and the Cultural Olympiad)

  • Holy Trinity Church – A virtual model of as it might have looked during its expansion in the medieval period (shown inside Trinity as a digital altar piece during their celebrated beer festival)
  • Hull’s Paragon Station, interpretation – summer 1914. In response to the national commemoration of the outbreak of WWI, and City of Culture engagement currently highlighted in the city.

The outward facing nature of the work (online and ‘pop up’ exhibitions at the sites) have brought additional value to the experience, allowing students to witnessing first-hand how audiences engage and respond. Their reflections have led them to propose future developments, such as the use of ‘Oculus Rift’ virtual experience software to allow the pubic to fully immerse themselves in a heritage oriented digital environment.

The students have developed an awareness of the transferable skills they are learning, which can prepare them for a wealth of possible future paths.

Gareth Sleightholme & Paul Starkey (Lecturers in Games Design)




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Web Design – The Civil War Hull Project – Creating added footfall for Hull Museums via an App’ & Website

Spring 2012 saw the culmination of the excellent work done by the 3rd Year Web Students for their Client Brief for the Civil War in Hull Project.

Year 3 Web Design students early visuals for the Civil War Hull website.

…the website, the mobile app’ and print materials along with the work of the Games Design students on a new touch screen installation would all connect to create a “multi-platform” marketing opportunity.

An app’ that encouraged interaction with the city itself and key points on a virtual “Civil War, Hull trail”… all of which would lead back to the museum itself where a touchscreen installation with a series of simple Games to encourage learning about the plight of the people and the city’s defenses during the early part of this national conflict.

Year 3 Students for Web Design and one of the Games Design students look through the research materials in the archives at the Hull History Centre

…looking at actual period materials with help in interpretation supplied by a historian from the archive team.

Year 3 Web Design students even invited a local re-enactment group into the New Media Studios to discuss the Civil War period, in particular the struggle as centred on Hull.

Explaining the dress and equipment of the typical period infantryman.

A screen-capture of the interaction and flow of the Civil War Hull site can be found below.

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Table Top Tetris (Games Design Related Video)

We’ve been meaning to post this little bit of Games Design related video fun from one of our games students for a while now.

Matt Lane now in his second year here at HSAD, created this in his first year Video sessions, looking at tracking, editing and a little bit of 3DSMax magic.

A great little portfolio piece for Matt, that shows the value of these broader  transferable skill development briefs in Year 1.

You can find more work from Matt >HERE<.

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Project Paragon – A Yr3/Yr2 Games Design, Heritage Project for HSAD, Hull (update Sept/Oct 2014).

2014 saw the UK, amongst many other nationalities, in contemplation of the anniversary of the outbreak of WWI in Europe. Our Games Design students at the Hull School of Art & Design have, as part of the discussions and remembrances taking place locally, attempted to recreate the City’s Paragon Station and the immediate surrounding spaces and architecture as it might have appeared in that year.

The heritage reconstruction above was developed for exhibition as an immersive 3D environment through which the public could manoeuvre (using the Oculus Rift VR/Virtual Reality head set) by our Final Year Games Design students as part of their Client Related Practice module.

royal station hotelThe project was an extension of their Year 2 Interactive Environments & Level Design project which seeks to show how the technology used for games can be transferred into other markets such as heritage.

This valuable second year group project provides the students with opportunities, not only for further development of transferable 3D design skills, but extends and develops their research and communication skills and their ability to develop projects for real world spaces.

Reference Previous projects have seen students work showcased as part of the Cultural Olympiad in Westminster, in Ferens Art Gallery, and last year’s recreation of Holy Trinity Church showcased in Trinity Church itself in the form of a “digital altar piece” during the city’s popular beer festival held within this great venue. … This years students are currently in discussion over a venue, the images and video in this post showing the project at the half way point in its development. Wireframes 2 Students build all the visible assets within the interactive environment from scratch, creating models in 3D digital software, and enhancing these creations with custom textures and lighting. Textures and Lighting By the end of the first semester the students had produced this video of the work so far… All techniques and processes as used in the Games industry toward which our students are aimed. Other elements explored include the creation of believable props and objects to populate the spaces… bicycle render …and animated assets and interactive opportunities within the environments, Trains …such as the train (above) that arrives at the platform in the video. interactivity Train Or the ability to climb on top of, push and pull elements of the environment (here allowing players to climb up scaffolding, collect tickets from a ticket machine – above – or shin up a drain pipe – below), ladder up The building By the time the students had done their first install of the project it looked like this: Students also showed the project later in the year (Sept/Oct 2014) at a heritage venue and introduced the project to the public in a more “immersive” format using their Oculus Rift technology… Also >HERE<

The reasons for running “live” heritage based projects with technology-oriented arts students.

The difficulty with engaging students in deeper research in an age of ease-of-access information, fingertip technology and the acceptance of new practices and new phrasing such as “Google-imaging” is less to do with any actual availability of information, and more to do with a simple will-to-engage beyond the third or forth page of a digital search engine’s results. Plus, the increasingly perceptible cultural shift away from library research and deeper reading, even away from print-based media, particularly with students who are often mislabeled as “digital natives” (i.e. those on courses serving technology oriented industries (web, games, graphics and 3D design etc).

The addition over the last few years of a heritage-oriented project into the year two curriculum of our Games Design course, one which sees the students creating reconstructions of local city spaces and connected historical environments using Games development technology, has begun to facilitate an attempt to counter this problem. 

Paragon Hotel B - Promo Material

The non-digital research necessary for the development of a historical reconstruction of this type forces students to engage with the more traditional investigative processes (on which most information technology is modelled) such as library and museum archives, field trips and observational recording.

This marriage of traditional and technology based research activity mirrors the balance we try to achieve in the students studio practice.

These labour intensive heritage projects are run across two modules, with the first module looking at the students ability to juggle their understanding of what make an interesting digital environment (with regard to their own subject specialism), the second looking at the preparation for installation of the work (and subsequent “soft skills” acquisition) in a public space. All hopefully allowing the students to develop an awareness of the transferable skills they are developing as part of what they might see as a very focused specialism.

To date the projects have included recreations of:

  • the city’s docks, including the area around Queens Gardens as it would have looked when still used as a dock at the birth of the 20th Century (shown as part of Hull Museum’s Connect/Create exhibition at the Ferens Gallery);
  • the journey of an Iron Age sword from a Celtic Forge, via a Victorian antiquities collector’s study, to the “stacks” behind the East Riding museum (also shown as part of the following years Connect/Create exhibition);
  • the journey of a Roman oil lamp from Mediterranean potter’s wheel to the ship that brought it to Britain (and selected to be shown in Westminster as part of the national Precious Cargo exhibition, and the Cultural Olympiad);
  • Holy Trinity Church as it might have looked during its expansion in the medieval period (shown inside Trinity as a digital altar piece during their celebrated beer festival);
  • an interpretation of the area surrounding Hull’s Paragon Station as it might have looked in the summer of 1914. This project brief has been chosen not only to reflect the national commemoration of the outbreak of WWI, but as part of the wider City of Culture engagement currently highlighted in the city. The students have shown their work in progress work to the public in a shopping centre in the city and developed it further throughout the summer ready to use the Oculus Rift virtual experience software to allow the public to fully immerse themselves in this heritage oriented digital environment.
  • this years Year 2 project has seen our students develop a walk-through environment looking at Whitefriargate, Hull as it appeared in the 1960’s, this has been showcased to the public in St. Stephens shopping centre with a final version hopefully being exhibited during the Heritage open days at the beginning of their third and final year of study.

See also: The Trinity Project / Previous Heritage Projects

For more information, or if you have a venue that might wish to showcase our students projects, or a project in which you might wish us to collaborate, contact the New Media Dept at the Hull School of Art & Design, Hull. …