Bright Awards Winners 2023 Announcement

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 help lift these creators and give back to their community.

The 2023 Bright Awards invited Year 11–13 students to showcase and celebrate their creativity in digital design and technology. Winners were handpicked from each of the four categories from Animation, Digital Design, Games Development and Photography.

Winning students came from: Rangitoto College, Liston College and Burnside High.

We have seen a lot of determination and confidence in this year's submissions, 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 Bright Award winners below!


This Year's Winners

Photography category winner

Levi Vaituliao (Year 13, Liston College, Auckland)

Addiction, Obesity, Gambling, and Religion have always been harmful in the Pacific communities. My work takes found objects and materials where I turn them into Samoan and Cook-island costumes; costumes either used in dance, to represent status, used to celebrate success, or just show appreciation for different people. By taking these non traditional materials and turning them into Samoan artefacts I am trying to show that these harmful things are being glorified by Pacific communities. The idea of my art work came
from the realisation that a lot of my friends, family, and myself were addicted to these harmful
things, since we all came from pacific heritage it hurt to see and I wanted to show some awareness
of what we were spending our money on and what we were putting into our bodies.

The judges said: "The concept is strong and well supported by the images. Levi's work is reminiscent of the work from Pati Solomona Tyrell (FAFSWAG) but in a more documentary, frontal, style. The message is clear and direct. Very efficient. The setup is keeping the viewer outside of the image, as you would do if you were a tourist. Clever work and a strong message."

Levi Vaituliao earned a Bright Award for photography from Media Design School in 2023

Animation category winner

Dhon Lao (Year 13, Liston College, Auckland)

Project Name: Enmity

"The animation depicts a brief yet intense combat sequence from an animated series I'm developing as part of my NCEA Level 3 Design Portfolio. Drawing inspiration from the grandeur of Roman gladiatorial contests, the series unfolds in a fantastical medieval realm where colosseum sword battles reign as society's predominant source of entertainment. Within this world, we follow the harrowing journey of Killian and his elder brother Kaiser, both orphaned and residing in the squalid slums. Faced with the grim reality of their circumstances, they reluctantly enter the brutal arena as gladiators, initially fighting as a team but eventually becoming embroiled in a bitter feud that culminates in a climactic showdown.

"This animated scene captures the poignant essence of their ultimate confrontation. At the heart of this series lies a profound exploration of the complexities of brotherhood, delving into the intricacies of sibling bonds, from the heartfelt camaraderie to the tumultuous conflicts that can arise. Beyond the theme of brotherhood, the narrative also delves into profound issues of morality and revenge, providing viewers with a rich tapestry of themes to ponder."

The judges said: "Enmity shows a high level of technique, displaying solid animation fundamentals, camera work, choreography, and pacing. Each scene feels deliberate and shows work in making sure compositions are effective, while strong key poses and awareness of 3D space make the action sequences incredibly engaging and replay worthy. The pacing delivers a dramatic, suspenseful story, leaving the viewers wondering the fate of the characters beyond what is shown in the animation. Dhon Lao shows a lot of potential for a future in the animation industry."

Digital Design category winner

Ruijia Dong (Y13, Rangitoto College, Auckland)

Project: Delivery Assist

"Delivery Assist is a delivery app for visually disabled people. All the interface designs were created through Figma and illustrations of the storyboard were drawn in Procreate.

"This app aims to solve the problems with delivery through utilising robot delivery, detailed tracking for all deliveries across all shopping platforms, smooth user flow and customised features for visually disabled people. Delivery has always been a crucial step in the e-commerce shopping experience. New Zealand’s e-commerce market has a predicted annual compound growth rate of 16% for the next four years. Furthermore, research has shown that 85% of customers are unlikely to place a repeat order after an unsatisfactory delivery experience. With the advance of technology and e-commerce, a convenient, efficient system for last-mile delivery is required in everyday life."

The judges said: "Your thorough UX investigation is commendable, leading to a refined and well-thought-out final outcome. Great work!"

Delivery Assist is an app idea to help those with visual impairment access delivery services. This project was created by Ruijia Dong from Rangitoto College, and won the 2023 Media Design School Bright Awards for Digital Media Design

Games category winner

Ethan Davidson and Ashton Brevoort (Y12, Burnside High School, Christchurch) 

Project: Nexus

"The Nexus is a top-down 2d rogue-like game with a pixel art aesthetic and dystopian setting. We had a fairly broad target audience, which was all of the game design students at Burnside High School, as well as friends and family who wanted to try it out. Our goal was to create a fun and replayable user experience, with clean visuals, smooth combat and procedurally generated levels to create variety in gameplay. I (Ethan Davidson) worked to create all of the art assets for this project fully custom, as well as level design and audio design.

"My partner, Ashton Brevoort, did all of the coding for our game, and also helped with level design, project management and made a unique procedural level arrangement system for our game. We are both extremely proud of this passion project."

The judges said: "Rogue-like top-down shooter with an in-depth story of a clone with gun defeating robots created by a supercomputer. Simple yet polished game mechanics with some fun beats."

Nexus, a game created by Ethan Davidson and Ashton, was the winner of the 2024 Media Design School Bright Awards in the Games category

Congratulations to all our Winners of the 2023 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!

If you are a representative of one of the winning High Schools, please get in touch as soon as you can!