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Hagley Student Receives Outstanding NCEA Scholarship

March 1, 2016
By Charlotte Sowman

It’s a bold move going directly from high school to chase a position in Wellington’s internationally known Weta Workshop, the leading design and effects facility servicing the world’s creative industries with credits from a huge number of projects from the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings. However, it’s a step Hagley Design student McGregor Allen is about to take.

McGregor was not impressed by his tertiary study options when considering how he could take his passion for animation further. Inspired by Weta boss Richard Taylor’s advice to build your career by building your own experience, he’s been hard at work learning for himself and developing his animation skills further. He’s also moving to Wellington with a position at Weta as his goal. McGregor is looking to follow former Hagley student Johnny Fraser-Allen who went to Weta a decade ago to forge a successful career, starting by crafting items for movies such as King Kong then moving to design and sculpting.

For McGregor, animation is about creating an imaginary world then populating it with characters. Sculpture is his passion and it’s incredibly demanding, first involving several sketches then making three-dimensional clay models. What the characters look like is just the start– they then need to move and respond convincingly to the environment around them.

It’s not as though Weta aren’t interested in McGregor. After making an initial approach last year, he’s just been asked to send his portfolio and CV.

There’s good reason for Weta to take a close look at McGregor. He’s just been awarded an Outstanding Scholarship in Design for his animation portfolio. His Outstanding Scholarship award is a rare accolade. 3% of students studying each subject get Scholarships and only about 0.3% receive Outstanding Scholarships, so McGregor is in a very select group nationally. His work will feature in the top art display available to schools later this year.

There are some other firsts here too. McGregor was part of the first year of the full-time Animation and Design programme at Hagley in 2015. For programme leader Gavin Hewitt, McGregor’s portfolio was the first time the College has submitted a design portfolio in digital form rather than the traditional three panels.

You can watch McGregor’s Animation digital submission here.

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