Musos rule at Dunedin multimedia production house

As New Zealand's multimedia sector grows, more than one company has found that if skills can be bought or trained in, actual talent is a little harder to find.

As New Zealand’s multimedia sector grows, more than one company has found that if skills can be bought or trained in, actual talent is a little harder to find.

When Dunedin’s Vidmark productions needed to add new staff after winning a contract to turn Wendy Pye educational books into CD-Rom titles, managing director Steve Young did what he has always done--hired musicians.

“Musicians are creative people by definition, I suppose,” says Young, who spent a previous life in the semi-legendary Mother Goose, “but it’s never been deliberate policy to hire them--it just ends up that way. Almost all our staff seem to be musicians.”

The musical way seems to be working. Wendy Pye spokesman Brian Cutting predicts “world fame” for Vidmark, whose first three titles for the publisher will be released internationally early next year.

The Dunedin company got a look in on the contract “because they came to us, which was a good start”.

“They showed us some work that wasn’t quite there but was enough to go on, and since then all their work for us has been first-class.

“Everything is written and developed at publisher Wendy Pye in Auckland and then it goes down for Vidmark to work its magic on it. I think both companies have developed over this--they’ve learned from us and we’ve learned from them. I’m delighted that two New Zealand companies can have this kind of synergistic relationship on an international project.”

Vidmark, which began as a video production company in 1984, now offers multimedia authoring, Internet, graphics and animation services.

Apart from permanent staff, Young employs as many as 16 contract workers, almost all of them sourced from Dunedin’s music scene. The authoring package used is Macromedia Director, and Young agrees that musicians seem to take to Director particularly readily.

“There are a lot of parallels between music and what goes on in Director,” he says. “Director uses terms, like ‘score’, which are familiar to musicians and it seems to demand some of the same skills. It’s a strange combination, but it works.”

Expertise built up at Vidmark is even beginning to spill back into the city’s music scene, with staffer Matt Dillon taking co-production on New Zealand’s first rock CD-Rom, Mink’s enhanced CD format For My Mink. Two members of Flying Nun star on the CDs. Contract workers for Vidmark have also applied their skills to digital video editing and record for the band.

“On the other hand my technical director is actually proud of the fact that he’s not a musician,” concedes Young. “I suppose there has to be some use for the tone-deaf."

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