Design alumni win honors in Adobe's global digital media contest

Sep 06, 2017

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Poster for Equipoise, courtesy of Gung-Kai Koo.
Thumbnail for Design alumni win honors in Adobe's global digital media contest
Poster for Equipoise, courtesy of Gung-Kai Koo.

by Aaron Garland

The winners and finalists of the 2017 Adobe Design Achievement Awards have been announced, and two recent College of Imaging Arts and Sciences graduates were recognized in the global student competition for their outstanding thesis work.

Gung-Kai Koo won the fine art – animation/motion graphics category of Adobe’s digital media contest while Chao Luo was a finalist in commercial – web/app/game design. Both Koo (January 2017) and Luo (May 2017) are RIT visual communication design (MFA) program alumni.

Koo’s winning entry was his thesis project, Equipoise. It’s described on the ADAA website as an animated short about positivity and negativity, and the opposite, but complementary relationship between the two. The spirit of the film, according to the overview on the website, is how the positive and negative work together to reach the harmony and balance to react to stimulation, instead of judging the dominance or tendency of the two forces.

Koo said he sincerely appreciates all of the help from his professors and friends during the development of Equipoise. He was especially grateful for the guidance provided by his thesis advisors — School of Design associate professor Dan DeLunaChris Jackson, CIAS’ associate dean, graduate studies, and School of Design associate professor Shaun Foster. Koo also thanked new media design program chair and visual communication design graduate director Adam Smith.

"I am truly grateful to be a winner of ADAA 2017,” Koo said. “I am really happy to have been a student around wonderful teachers who really try to push you to the furthest."

Luo created ALPHABOT, an interactive game for dyslexic children that was one of three finalists in its category. The game’s targeted user is children aged 6-8, and Luo designed it to help those with dyslexia by taking a multisensory approach.

A level of the ALPHABOT game.

ALPHABOT provides reading practice, with it focusing on alphabet order, matching uppercase/lowercase letters, letter shapes, spelling and phonics. The overall experience engages visual design, interaction design and motion graphics.

Play the game and/or see the detailed design process here.

“It's such an honor to be a finalist of ADAA 2017 with my thesis project,” Luo said. “I submitted the project in June — I just wanted to see how far it could go. Now I'm so excited and proud to see this happened.”

Luo also had the three-member thesis committee of Jackson, Foster and DeLuna, and she expressed gratitude for their assistance and support.

“Graduating from RIT has been a major milestone in my life,” said Luo, a UI/UX designer. “What I've learned in the VCD program not only improved my design skills, but definitely changed my thinking, my career path and my life. The education I received at RIT has prepared me for a smooth transition from school to work and helped me to get ready to face challenges.”