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From the house you live in to the ergonomic chair in your office or the public park down the street, students of the Built Environment learn that a lot of good design starts with people.

For UNSW Built Environment.
Filmed through Zoom recordings & studio space.

The modern world is filled with objects; surrounding us, housing us, holding us, and being held. It's easy to forget that the story of nearly every man-made thing started inside of someone's mind.

Luminocity is an annual exhibition of works from all the high-fliers graduating or having graduated from the University of New South Wales' Built Environment faculty. It showcases futuristic works from all architectural disciplines, and is itself housed in a combined reality/virtual reality space; both a physical exhibition inside UNSW and also a fully realised 3D virtual exhibition rendered by designer James Hargraves of Abstract8.

The university approached us with the task of creating seven distinct films, looking at the individual disciplines of Architecture, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Industrial Design, Computational Design, City Planning, and Construction Management.

What began as a production to be completed in person very suddenly became a large-scale project to be created entirely remotely, due to the strict COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney at the time. Rather than in-person interviews, we recorded over 50 hours of Zoom meetings, talking to people from rural New South Wales all the way through to Singapore and downtown New York, delving deep into all the intricacies of their field.

Using these recordings, we put together an immersive hybrid video component that provides an insightful view into the academic and professional world of the built environment as it stands in Australia today.

The project proved challenging from an organisational perspective as well as a production perspective. It turns out wrangling two dozen academics and students into providing not only a good and comfortable interview, but also giving up any additional self-filmed footage, required us to level-up our people-management skills, and warm up our vocal chords for a lot of talking.

Our shooting parameters were now also more limited than we'd ever been used to; suddenly, we were unable to use our own camera abilities to capture the interviews or additional footage and had to be creative in our thinking and our ways of elevating the final product.

Many people associate Zoom footage with work meetings or student tutorials, and so one of the most prominent challenges we encountered was how to differentiate our video of online interviews from those that we're used to tuning out of. We loved the answers that our interviewees provided and so wanted the words to have weight.

Inspired by the aesthetic of the virtual space, we took on the technical challenge of filming our stars within the context of a "viewing room," expressing that their words were insightful enough to be played within an exhibition.

It's reassuring to know that when we watch these videos back, the most striking feature is how engaging we find the actual content; it encourages us to continue to be bold and that, as long as we focus on telling the most interesting story possible, the quality will always be able to shine. Even in the most limiting of circumstances, it's not the camera or microphone that creates the best work; it's the concept and message behind it.

WORDS:  Tom Gilligan
PRODUCTION:  Jungle House Creative
DOP:  Tom Gilligan
EDITOR:  Wendy Lee

8 X 2min-3min videos 


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