The message is about multimedia


JOB PROSPECTS for students taking Colaiste Dhulaigh's new two-year certificate course in multimedia are extremely promising, according to Jim Martin, head of the Dublin college's school of communication and multimedia.

Multimedia is the future, he says - you only have to look at the way that the print, electronics, TV and film industries are merging.

Newspapers are already available via our computer screens; soon we will be watching films and TV on those same screens. "Traditionally produced sound, TV, photography and print are all converging in the computer. Increasingly there will be more jobs in multimedia," Martin predicts.

Students on the programme will be equipped to move into a wide range of areas, he says, including graphic design, computer-aided design (CAD), publishing, advertising, digital sound or TV editing and the development of multimedia software packages (which include text, pictures, moving images and sound).

The course admits 25 students, with a minimum of five Leaving Cert passes at ordinary level. Entrance is by interview.

"We are looking for people who are interested in the media and in working with the new technological tools," Martin says. At interview, students will be required to demonstrate some creative ability - writing, photography, drawing, design or video production, for example - and to indicate that they have an interest in computer work.

Traditional drawing skills are an advantage, he says, but students who lack these will be able to attend drawing classes in the college.

The programme, Martin explains, "is structured to develop the student's ability in the use of computers and to encourage the student to exercise his or her individual talents and skills of creativity, imagination and visual presentation".

Students learn the basic skills of the most popular and productive computer packages. During the course, students study computer drawing and "rendering" - i.e., the means by which two-dimensional drawings are made three-dimensional.

"If you're drawing a building for example, you can also clad it with different surfaces - brick or wood - and you can light it. You can put in furniture and move it around on the computer," Martin explains. The 3D Studio software package enables students to build three-dimensional images of buildings or pieces of text, move them around and examine them from different angles.

BUT THE COURSE, which includes three weeks' work experience, is about more than product design. "It's not just about creating drawings," Martin says.

"Students learn to put together and present a professional package to a client." The programme also includes portfolio preparation, communication skills, media studies and media production practices.

A student's portfolio contains a comprehensive selection of hard-copy material and electronic media presentations, including sound and video productions.

"Students examine traditional practices in TV and sound production and photography in order to gain an insight into how good TV and photographs are made and how to gather good sound," Martin explains.

A module in the history and theory of design helps students to place their work in context and gives them the opportunity to expand their design horizons. "There's plenty of traditional design which can be studied and incorporated into their work," Martin notes.

Multimedia "authoring" is an important element of the programme. "All the software packages that we use on the course have to be brought together by another piece of software. Multimedia authoring is a subject that we study so that students are then able to author - that is create - their own multimedia products."

Multimedia is an extensive course, Martin admits, and the college is considering developing it into a three-year programme. "Multimedia is the future," he says. "The people making headway in this industry will be those who are skilled in a range of software packages.

"Even if our students don't go into careers in multimedia, there's plenty of careers spinning off any one of the software packages they will study."