For the third year, the University has partnered with the Edinburgh International Festival for its spectacular curtain-raiser. On the nights of 4 and 5 August, the city’s St Andrew Square will be transformed into a giant canvas, emblazoned with large-scale light installations that celebrate the Festival’s 70th anniversary.
A team of researchers and students in Sound Design and Digital Media at Edin
burgh College of Art have been working with the Festival and Tony Award-winning 59 Productions to create a lasting legacy for the epic outdoor artwork. They will capture content from the event and develop innovative ways for people to interact with it.
We caught up with PhD Student Hantian Zhang (HZ) and recent graduate George Mikrogiannakis (GM) – part of the team working with the festival – to find out how they are involved with this year’s event.
Can you tell us a little about your studies and area of interest?
GM: I completed a Master's Degree on Sound Design, under Dr Martin Parker (Lecturer in Sound Design at Edinburgh College of Art). I've been working as a film sound professional for over twenty years, but three years ago I felt the urge to look at sound design through an academic point of view. I remain in Edinburgh working as a freelancer and occasionally giving lectures on film sound at the University of Edinburgh.
HZ: I am a PhD student at Edinburgh College of Art. My study looks at content, context and presence in video blogs (vlogs). Overall, my research explores the correlations between these three elements for the sake of improving vlog audience’s viewing experience.
Can you explain what you and your fellow students will be capturing on the night of Bloom, and what it might be used for?
GM: The idea is that we record different perspectives of the event, in other words how things sound at different locations. We tend to choose "areas" beforehand but we also move around the crowd to capture as many different perspectives as possible. Our recordings can be used on mobile applications or virtual reality applications where the listener can move around in a "virtual" world and experience how the event actually sounded like, depending on where you were standing.
What are you hoping to get out of taking part in the International Festival's opening event?
HZ: I am expecting to strengthen my teamwork skills via participating in the event, as well as gain more valuable and practical lessons from it. It is crucial to learn how to work perfectly with a team when taking part in such a great annual event. It improves both quality of the production and the efficiency of the working process.
Moreover, since it is my first time participating in the event, I am also hoping to learn and experience new things during the event, especially broadening my vision on the field of digital art and creativity.
GM: This would be my third International festival opening and I'm really looking forward to it. It is a challenge as it is a one-off event, so there's no room for mistakes. Apart from it being a very exciting experience by itself, I think it's an important asset to have on your CV as the Edinburgh International Festival is such a high-profile event. Also the technology behind this is rather new, so it's very important to know that you've contributed to something that could change the way we experience audio visual material.
Why do you think it is important for students to take part in Edinburgh’s festivals?
GM: I think it's very important for students to participate in a "real world" situation, having to deal with circumstances that very often are far from ideal. There's no room for mistakes as this is a one-off event, so it teaches students to be well prepared and responsible.
HZ: I think taking part in the festivals is a priceless opportunity for students to gain experience of working with each other and develop the feeling of responsibility.
Also, the International Festival features events hosted by people from all over the world. Students can broaden their horizons and gain unique experience by participating, which is helpful not only for entertaining but also to inspire in their own work in the future.