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Remote Team Solutions with Real-World Impact: MDM Teams Achieve Success Delivering Digital Solutions for IRL Experiences

Nov 04, 2020 By Elyse Economides

Our MDM students and faculty love a good challenge! During these unprecedented times, what sets our Master of Digital Media (MDM) program apart is the dynamic framework that allows our faculty and students to innovate and respond to the needs of the industry in the face of a global pandemic. Backed by a proven track record of delivering in-person solutions to research and development challenges, the program was poised to evolve.

When presented with the challenge of moving to online collaboration and work during the middle of their program, our cohort 14 students responded quickly and successfully pivoted to operating 100% remotely. In the past year, our MDM students have worked with a number of museum, gallery and public installation industry projects to take proof of concept documents and design briefs and deliver creative solutions. Here are some of the projects our students tackled and the feedback from our industry partners on their experiences working with our student teams.

A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia

Client: Museum of Vancouver

Have You Eaten Yet?

A Seat at the Table with Team Hotpot

Note: This photo was taken pre-COVID 19, when classes were still taking place in person.

Request: Create an interactive and educational experience for museum visitors to sample the dialects spoken in China today.

Result: An app that features over 30 different Chinese dialects saying the phrase “Have You Eaten Yet?”, a common Chinese phrase that is used as a greeting similar to “How are you?” in English.

AR Storytelling in Six Chapters

Team AR Storytelling

Note: This photo was taken pre-COVID 19, when classes were still taking place in person.

Request: Create an immersive, interactive experience to help audiences learn about the jagged history of Chinese-Canadian immigration.

Result: A virtual pop-up book accompanied by a custom score to tell the story of one of 300 Canadian-born Chinese soliders who volunteered to fight in the First World War.

Accessing Private Collections Through 3D Scans

Request: Create an opportunity for visitors to access key artifacts connected to the history of early Chinese immigrants to British Columbia that can’t be displayed in the exhibition due to size, location or condition.

Result: An app that houses high-quality 3D scans of the artifacts where users would be able to pivot and observe the objects from a 360-degree and zoom in on the artifacts.

Chinese Migration Storytelling with Historical Data

Request: Create an animated visualization to act as an introduction to the exhibition and to familiarize visitors with the geographical and population distribution of overseas Chinese around the world with a focus on British Columbia.

Result: An animated visualization encompassed 7 eras of Chinese migration to British Columbia and a global overview of migration from China.

Opening to the public on November 19th, the Museum of Vancouver’s exhibition A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia “explores historical and contemporary stories of Chinese Canadians in BC and their struggles for belonging. It looks to food and restaurant culture as an entry point to feature stories that reveal the great diversity of immigrant experience and of the communities immigrants develop.”

Feedback from our Industry Partners:

"We have been SO impressed by the assiduity, flexibility, and high caliber of the MDM student cohort that collaborated with us on developing a series of digital products for the exhibition A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia. Their animated maps, augmented reality storytelling and 360-scans of our artefacts help us address the key themes of belongings, racism, and resilience in novel and meaningful ways. Their work is contributing significantly to the interpretive program, and as a result it will help visitors gain a greater appreciation of the contributions that Chinese migrants and their descendants have made to the province."

Viviane Gosselin

Director of Collections and Exhibitions

Museum of Vancouver

"This is the second time UBC INSTRCC has partnered with the CDM team to produce immersive new media installations on Chinese Canadian history. The added challenge to this year's projects was the requirement to include trilingual content. We were very impressed by the ingenuity and passion the student teams demonstrated through their work -- we were especially impressed by their ability to bring history alive through the many creative solutions (and language skills) they brought to the table."

Denise Fong

Co-Curator, A Seat at the Table exhibition

Research Director, UBC INSTRCC (Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies)

Vancouver Art Gallery Installation with Team AI

Teams pivoted to working 100% remotely to collaborate and deliver projects to clients.

Forthcoming Gallery Exhibition

Client: Vancouver Art Gallery

Request: Create an engaging and meaningful interactive installation which complies with the new set of rules for a post-COVID world.

Result: A flexible and contactless framework with defined user zones for the gallery to add content to as they continue to develop the exhibition.

The interactive History of Artificial Intelligence project is a collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery and its curators to create an interactive installation with an online component. It aims to build knowledge and inspire conversations around the history of AI and visual culture.

Feedback from our Industry Partner:

“Glenn and I just finished our debrief with both of our MDM project teams and I want to take a moment to acknowledge the larger institutional context that made that possible. We are both delighted with the quality of the work produced by each of the teams. Their projects will have key positions in our exhibition and we will be proud to present them.

This was an entirely new experience for me (and for the Gallery as a whole) and despite the many real and challenging constraints that have engulfed us all in the past months the teams achieved remarkable results. I know your leadership within the program gave them the tools and confidence to pull that off and it is a real tribute to the program and the people that run it.

Thanks for the opportunity to work with CDM and your teams. It was a terrific experience and one that I hope we can repeat in new and exciting ways.

One more note of acknowledgement based on this morning’s work — I was just reviewing the many files I got from the AI History team. It is the most thorough and helpful handoff I have received in many years of work — impressive documentation, rigorous manuals and user guides, and excellent videos that demonstrate the many qualities of the final MVP.”

Bruce Grenville

Senior Curator

Vancouver Art Gallery


We’re appreciative of the ongoing opportunities to work with established and respected institutions, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in the industry. Learn more about the many other projects our students have delivered, and how you can work with our students on future projects.