Bright Awards 2021 Results

The Bright Awards recognise young New Zealand high-school talent within the creative arts and technology fields. Since 2016, Media Design School has committed to helping lift these creators and give back to their community.

The 2021 awards sought out digital design submissions from Year 11–13 students to showcase and celebrate their creative nous in digital design and technology. Winners were handpicked from five categories on offer, including Animation, Graphic Design, Games, Web and Interactive, and Photography.

Winning students came from: Auckland’s Pakuranga College, Christchurch’s Burnside High School, and Whangārei’s Kamo High School and Dunedin’s Columba High School which also took out top honours this year as “Bright School of the Year”.

This year, we have again been impressed by the quality of work coming through, and we are excited for the talent in the year ahead, especially those that choose to study with Media Design School.


Read more on our winners below!


Photography category winner

Olivia Charles (Columba College, Dunedin) Project Name: Venice - Canal View

These photographs are imbued with the mysteriousness that is characteristic of the sea-clinging city’s nature. Venice’s watery climate had a significant role in shaping the artistic direction of the city – the city’s Renaissance painters were influenced by the atmosphere of the sunlight reflected off the water and the subtle movements of the light and shadow dancing in the canals.

I have tried to capture this unique Venetian atmosphere in the photographs, and additionally the renowned splendour of its architectural beauty. The Campanile (bell-tower) of San Giorgio appeared in numerous Venetian artworks throughout the city’s Renaissance life. I have taken this sentiment and applied it to the modern world of photography, capturing the bell-tower as seen from various significant Venice viewpoints - through a gap in the Bridge of Sighs, which allowed Venice’s prisoners to see the outside world for a final time before they were confined to prison cells for an eternity.

The judges said: "This photo demonstrates that Olivia has a clear eye for photography. A lot has been taken in consideration here. The tower is the first thing that we look at when we see this photo, but the photos is not about the tower... the photo is about how it feels to walk around this city. Beyond good lighting, composition and depth, the photo has meaning. The haze gives a great sense of depth, the light and perspective show us where to look, the architecture and bridges give us a hint of where this is located and the people walking gives life to the photo. Very rich and meaningful photograph. It definitely shows a lot of talent. This is the winner."



Animation category winner


Sean Pivac (Year 12, Kamo High School, Whangārei) Project Name: Kiwi Island

I have created a trailer proposing an idea for a New Zealand children's show.

Kiwi Island tells the story of Iwi the Kiwi and his whanau on a fictitious island. I wanted to take a flightless (vulnerable) bird and turn it into someone who presents more of a challenge to predators. Some important themes were: 'bravery', 'having a voice' and 'being the change you wish to see in the world'. If this were a successful television show I would like to motivate young children to make meaningful and positive changes to society, whilst educating them on New Zealand culture. 

I have created everything in the animation myself and have tried to keep it as authentic to NZ as possible. I want the show to educate the young on New Zealand culture and so I have included Matariki as a natural event that the entire forest is aware of. This work has been inspired by: Kiwi! - Doni Permedi, which shows a Kiwi flying despite having tiny wings; and from Roger Deakins - a famous cinematographer from the UK, and Dreamworks' Dragons franchise.

The judges said: "Beautiful lighting and environment shown in the opening of the teaser video. Cleverly applied effects on transitions and shot to shot cut scene."


Graphic Design category winner

Aiden Forbes (Columba College, Dunedin).  Project name: Stairs

The backgrounds and buildings were inspired by 70s style architecture particularly in the style of Art Deco, Bauhaus, and contemporary architecture, and the figures were inspired by vintage swimsuits and fashion models, such as Marylin Monroe, Suzy Parker, and Beverly Johnson.

I wanted to create surreal dream environments as I like to create places and show concepts that wouldn’t exist in real life. A perfect blue sky and a clean environment with beautiful figures without faces create a strange feeling offering an escape for just a moment to the viewer and transport them into a strange world with no limits. All of my art is digitally created.

The judges said: "The aesthetic of the illustration pieces are well thought through and shows considerable restraint. The surrealistic and minimalist approach speaks volumes to a design that is well composed and balanced. Good effort."


Games category winner

Simon Li (Year 13, Burnside High School, Christchurch). Project name: Archer's Creed

In this game, the player will play the role of an archer, hunting a phoenix that is going to eat the sun to gain it that will end the world. I want people to feel the charm of holding a bow and shooting arrows. I also love ancient legends, with the boss "Phoenix" coming from Chinese Legend. 

The judges said: "Archer's Creed presents strong artwork that captures attention. Has solid UI entry screen and level artwork, and an awesome Phoenix boss in the demo. Great job!"


Web + Interactive category winner

Lucy Thwaites (Pakuranga College, Auckland). Project name: Serene

I have decided to make a website for a fabricated therapy company called 'Serene' due to our concern for mental health. With this project, I am considering creating websites for real therapy clinics, using this to showcase my abilities.

The judges said: "Thoughtful and appropriately designed visual identity, and a thorough journey through the website makes this project stand out. Lucy has used delightful and relevant animation to create a beautiful user experience. Well done."


Congratulations to all our Winners of the 2021 Bright Awards and a huge thanks to the schools behind them that have cultivated their talent and set them on to a path of creative success! 

Also, thank you to all other contestants that put in the time, hard work and effort to create beautiful pieces. The judging process was not easy and there were many close seconds and thirds. Keep pursuing your creative dreams, we can't wait to see more of all the inspiring creations you're chasing!

Bell tower behind the Bridge of Sighs between two apartments in late-afternoon Venice.
Venice - Canal View

by Olivia Charles, winner of the Photography category

Kiwi Island Trailer

by Sean Pivac, winner of the Animation category

Woman walking down stairs under a blue sky and crescent moon

by Aidan Forbes, winner of the Graphic Design category

Archer's Creed

by Simon Li, winner of the Games category


by Lucy Thwaites, winner of the Interactive category