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Lab to create magic with renowned NZ author

Lab to create magic with renowned NZ author

Internationally recognised New Zealand children’s writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop will team up with the University of Canterbury’s HIT (Human Interface Technology) Lab NZ to bring one of his stories to life, thanks to a new Government grant.

Mr Bishop, who is one of two writers-in-residence this year, and the HIT Lab NZ have received a grant of more than $20,000 from the Smash Palace Collaborations Fund to transform Mr Bishop’s picture book, Giant Jimmy Jones, into a three-dimensional animation using the Lab’s MagicBook technology. The MagicBook software enables the characters in a story to leap from each of the pages when they are viewed through a hand-held display.

The fund was set up by Creative New Zealand and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

Creative New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Kerr says the aim of the Smash Palace fund is to help foster an environment where the arts and sciences can “connect, collide and collaborate”.

The idea for the fund resulted from a one-day Smash Palace forum last year that brought together 80 artists, scientists, technologists, designers and policymakers. Of the 21 projects that applied for funding only three were successful in obtaining a grant.

HIT Lab NZ director Dr Mark Billinghurst says the Smash Palace funding has provided the Lab with an outstanding opportunity to collaborate with a world renowned author such as Mr Bishop, and introduce him to some of the lab’s interface technology.

Dr Billinghurst and Mr Bishop will run a one-week workshop in conjunction with the Christchurch City Library to teach high school students how to develop content for the Giant Jimmy Jones MagicBook. This will be followed by an exhibition of the children’s work.

The completed project will be installed in the Canterbury Public Library later this year for the people to experience.

Gavin Bishop and fiction-writer Catherine Chidgey share the 2003 University of Canterbury Ursula Bethell Residency in Creative Writing.

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