Gaming students dive into theBlu

May 4, 2012

Games art and design students at Murdoch University are collaborating with some of the best animators and developers in the world to help create a pioneering digital experience which allows users to explore the world’s oceans from their desktops.

The students have spent the last four months designing and building 3D digital versions of species like the bottlenose dolphin as well as ocean habitats for the app, called theBlu, which will launch in Times Square, New York City on Friday, May 4, at 5pm local time (5am, Saturday, May 5, Perth time).

TheBlu is a free downloadable app in which users can explore, interact with and purchase aquatic habitats and animated species with a portion of proceeds going to support charities and organisations dedicated to protecting the oceans. There is also a social media element to theBlu with users able to share pictures from their dives, and each of their interactions and connections impacting the flow of life in theBlu.

Lecturer Josh Whitkin from the School of Media Communication and Culture said the opportunity to get involved was invaluable for the students.

“They have gained unparalleled experience working on a remote, large-scale team,” said Mr Whitkin.

“At the end of the project they can correctly claim they have built art of a quality level that was accepted by professional game developers.

“The students are going to keep on designing for theBlu and I hope to see this relationship evolve considerably in the years to come, primarily through continued student work experience.”

Games art and design student Stuey Gant, 23, who is designing a habitat for theBlu, said he had learnt a lot from working with its professional creators.

“I think theBlu is a great opportunity for students to work and collaborate with some of the best industry professionals,” he said.

“I am gaining valuable feedback from them and it’s great to build up my experience as a concept artist for the gaming industry, which is what I’d like to do when I finish my degree. Overall the whole experience has been great and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The students’ work, which is currently in development, will be seen alongside the creations of Academy Award-winning animators like Andy Jones who was the animation director on Avatar and digital effects wizards like John McLaughlin who worked on Apollo 13 and Spiderman.

Murdoch is one of only four universities globally who have been working on theBlu, which has been created by California-based company Wemo Media.

John Bates from Wemo Media said he had been impressed with the work presented by the Murdoch students.

“It’s wonderful to have them involved,” he said.

“They are the world’s future storytellers and Wemo Media is committed to empowering students of the digital arts to become Wemo Media ‘makers’. They are joining with contributors from 40 different countries in a truly global studio and should be proud of the quality they have produced. We hope to keep seeing their work in the months and years ahead.”

Special five minute experiences of theBlu will be displayed on the NASDAQ and Thomson Reuters video screens in Times Square every 30 minutes between 5pm and 11pm local time on May 4 2012. New York is 12 hours behind Perth, Western Australia.

Currently a downloadable app for PC and Mac, theBlu will soon be available on smart phones, tablets and smart TVs. More information is available at theBlu website.

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