When Kai was in high school researching university programs, he was surprised to find a new program being offered that embodied everything he wanted only 15 minutes away from his high school. The Bachelor of Media Studies at UBC Okanagan was the interdisciplinary program that he was looking for. The program included film, photography, design, sound, programming, and game design, as well as plenty of opportunities for creative, self-directed studies.
Kai especially appreciates how the program allows you to gain skills in multiple different areas of media and arts and then, in your later years, you can narrow down and specialize in a certain digital media area.
Throughout his degree, Kai has been able to work on many different projects. He has produced a short documentary for a local initiative building community resilience to prevent youth suicide. He participated in a UBCO STEM Day field trip for students from local elementary schools where he taught elementary school kids about the field of digital arts. Kai also created a VR sound experience and had it publicly displayed as part of an exhibition at UBC Okanagan.
1. UBC is full of opportunities to connect and engage, both in and out of the classroom. What opportunities have you seized, and how have they enriched your experiences here?
My first and second years were difficult because they were online, so it was hard to make connections at first. But once classes came back in person, I was so happy to participate in group projects again. I took group projects for granted, and didn’t enjoy them that much in high school. But being in a program where sharing feedback, spit balling ideas and collaborating is so important, I was excited to be able to work together in group settings again. I know it isn’t a rare opportunity or one that is particularly special, but just being able to work together and get to know my classmates better is something that I truly value. Especially in a smaller program like BMS, where we all have the same classes and are collectively only about 18 students, it is so nice to be able to get together and figure out how to work together and push each other to grow.
More specifically, in my FILM 271 class, one of my first classes back in person, we were put into smaller “crews” to create short films. Being able to work together in person and collaborate, share ideas, figure things out, and just learn how things work with people who I had grown familiar with through the years was really fun.
I think that it is so amazing that the BMS program is smaller, because it creates a more intimate group that you really get to know and you start to push each other to get better.
This semester I’ve been given the opportunity, along with 3 other classmates in my FILM 371 class, to produce a short documentary for the CLARITY project, which is a local initiative building community resilience to prevent youth suicide. The CLARITY project is a research project started by researchers from the UBCO School of Nursing. The film will receive funding from SSHRC and will involve multiple community partners. This is the first film project that I will be working on that will have some funding, and be possibly entered into a film festival, so I am extremely excited and motivated to work with my classmates as a group to create something awesome that can hopefully bring some awareness to what the CLARITY project and its partners are doing within our community.
2. UBC is a mosaic of people, experiences and locations that come together to make it unlike anywhere else. What are some of your favorite places, communities and experiences to explore at UBC?
One of my favourite things to do during the school year is to support the UBCO Heat athletics teams. The atmosphere at games is always so wild, especially because a lot of the time you’re not just cheering for your school, but your friends. I also enjoy coming to the school to study. I live off campus but I really enjoy the spaces created for studying at the school, there’s a new place that I discover every week. My favourite study spot is the Media Maker Space. It is a space dedicated for Visual Arts and Media Studies students, and has a large table for collaborating and a couple computers for working at. It’s nice to have a space on campus dedicated for creatives to meet, collaborate and work.
3. Why did you choose the Bachelor of Media Studies program? What attracted you to the program and what has been your experience so far?
I was raised in Kelowna and went to Rutland Senior Secondary, which is about 15 minutes away from the university. When I was searching for programs in fields that I was interested in, I was pleased to find a new program being offered at UBCO which incorporated everything that I was interested in. I was looking at other programs in different places that were related to the subject, many of them being more specific, or more communications based. I ended up choosing the BMS program at UBCO for its proximity to my home, and also because it offered interdisciplinary studies in various different subjects.
I was interested in film, photography, design, sound, programming, and game design and Media Studies at UBCO offered all those things, which I was super excited about. The BMS program has allowed me to gain skills in multiple different practices. The upper-level courses allow lots of room for creativity in the projects, and self-directed projects are encouraged in many classes. You can tailor your projects to make them something that you’re actually passionate about. It’s a very interesting degree because it takes a lot of practices from visual arts and computer science and blends them together. Since the program is so broad, it is a good degree for people who enjoy computer art stuff but don’t know exactly what specific area they want to specialize in yet, because it exposes you to so many different things and later it allows you to narrow things down and specialize in a certain digital field.
4. How will your studies in the Bachelor of Media Studies at UBC Okanagan help you achieve your career goals?
I went into the program not really knowing what specific career path I wanted to take, and I honestly still don’t exactly know what I want to do, but I know that I want to do something in the field of creative digital work. I am leaning towards some sort of sound design career in either the marketing, film or gaming industries because I have found that sound is my passion/obsession.
Although I haven’t taken any sound specific courses at UBCO, I’ve had the opportunity to work with sound in many different classes and continue to work with sound in my own projects outside of school. This program has helped broaden my understanding of different creative computer-based disciplines and has allowed me to gain experience doing many different things. Throughout this degree, I’ve worked with many different mediums and have produced many different types of projects in a range of disciplines which I think will give me a step up when starting my career. I have experience in film, programming, photography, graphic design, sound design, game design, 3d modeling, animation, and VR development. This program has broadened my knowledge of the digital world and how technology is constantly shaping our lives.
5. Have you had the opportunity to connect with people of different identities/experiences from you? How have these diverse connections impacted your experience?
UBCO is filled with many different identities and cultures, and I find it very valuable to interact with people with different perspectives and experiences from my own. Being in such a diverse place has helped me inform my own perspective of the world and I am grateful for all the connections I have made with different types of people to increase my understanding of this ever-changing world. It is very interesting and inspiring to see how different interests, inspirations, identities, cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives influence people’s art styles.
Having a diverse array of people also makes getting feedback especially helpful because you get to listen to multiple different perspectives of your work, and something is always brought up that you might not think of yourself from your own perspective. I believe that having an openness to different ideas and perspectives is a major tool for success, especially in the creative world.
6. Share a memory or a moment in time when you remember feeling validated that you chose to attend UBC. Could be a favourite event, a successful project in the classroom, or something you did with a club or community organization. What about that memory affirmed your choice to come to UBC?
Two memories come to mind. The first is when me and two other Media Studies students helped my Media Studies professor, Annie Wan, organize and participate in the UBCO STEM Day field trip for students from local elementary schools. Our task was to come up with a “class” where we taught a couple groups of elementary school kids about our program and the field of digital art and development.
We had a motion capture demonstration where we let the kids do dance moves in front of a camera, and then converted their movements into animations that we could use to animate video game characters on a projector. The kids were pretty excited about the stuff that we showed them and finding the few that were super into media arts and talking to them about making video games and movies and hearing them say they want to grow up and do stuff like that felt really rewarding. To think that I was once an elementary school student in Kelowna visiting UBCO and having my eyes filled with wonder, and then to be able to give that experience back to the same system that raised me was super fulfilling.
The second memory is of a class project from VISA 382, which was a self-directed digital media class. In this class we were able to propose any project that we wanted. I wanted to create a sound experience in VR, where, based on your position, you could change the way that the experience sounded. Through the BMS program, I was taking a class on VR development and thankfully had access to VR headsets and other resources to help this project be possible.
Our final projects were displayed in an exhibition in the Sawchuk Family Theatre and in the Visual and Emerging Media Studio. I was able to finish the project and display a headset on a plinth in the VEMS space and let people experience my project. I thought that not many people would show up to try it out, but I was super excited to hear that people had actually checked it out and I even got texts from friends saying they went to the exhibition to see my project. On the final day of the exhibition, I went to take the exhibit down and met some cool people who wanted to check it out, and I got to see their reactions to something that I created. To be able to see something that I made be viewed by people in an exhibition was a new experience to me, and a very cool one. This was a super fulfilling feeling and I am glad that UBCO had the resources and the opportunity of an exhibition to make it all possible.