Coming to a screen near you

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Published by The Gisborne Herald

‘Part community facility, part television studio and entirely futuristic,’ is how Rangai founder Shannon Dowsing describes the commercial studio space and education facility he has created, with partners, to deliver a Diploma in Screen Production — as he explains to the Business Quarterly . . .

Enter Rangai's studio from Gladstone Road and the impact is striking — a vibrant green screen that fills the space, a control room full of screens . . . and those are just the obvious elements of the state-of-the-art virtual studio that has opened in the centre of Gisborne.

Founder Shannon Dowsing says he has partnered carefully to create a commercial studio space and education facility like no other. International production company Target3D and EIT, along with Trust Tairawhiti, are supporting the aspirational concept while preparing to deliver a Diploma in Screen Production and begin production of original television content, with Tairawhiti rangatahi as the stars of the shows and working behind the lens.

It began with a strategic expansion of Target3D, negotiated by Mr Dowsing, from the UK to New Zealand — driven by commercial need and the opportunity of working 24 hours with staff on opposite sides of the Earth.

The approach changed, however, after an assessment of how to introduce the business and make it best-for-region. The expansion went into a holding pattern while developing what they believe is the future of work and education, says Mr Dowsing.

“Creating Rangai Limited allowed us to connect education and the commercial sector, providing students unparalleled opportunities, the ability to earn while they learn, excellent pastoral care and pathways to high-paid, exciting jobs.”

Target3D recognised the need to grow talent in Tairawhiti, or risk importing staff to a region already under capacity pressure. The partners adopted a Maori proverb to guide their decision-making and it is reflected throughout the business — He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.)

For the first time EIT will offer its Diploma in Screen Production in Gisborne. As part of its commitment, Rangai has provided the cutting-edge facility.

“It was important that our students work with the same tools we use internationally,” said Mr Dowsing. “We want our students to be the most employable in the industry, as they will be truly work-ready.”

To support this, Rangai has also negotiated paid learning opportunities for students, at living wage, aimed to offset the cost of education and give them real experience that is invaluable. Upon graduation, Rangai then offers recruitment opportunities via its national and international networks, but plans to retain as much production expertise as it can locally and grow the industry here.

Mr Dowsing founded Target3D NZ and Rangai, which is part-owned by Target3D UK. In the group they also own two studios in London and one in Spain.

Target3D specialises in motion and performance capture, known as mocap.

“We're experts with hardware, the tools that make up this industry's technology. We are a centre of knowledge and advise studios, universities and others on its technical limitations and ability to integrate with their workflow.”

The cutting-edge technology Target3D is involved with is utilised in applications ranging from robotics, biometrics, simulators, animation, virtual production, high-performance sport and virtual reality to medical and military training.

Creating an innovation ecosystem

Mr Dowsing returned to New Zealand in 2014 after the sale of London-based technology innovation agency Inition Ltd, where he had the role of business development manager.

The rising technology of 3D printing had caught his attention in 2009. He applied for, and landed, a sales director role at Inition Ltd, a growing startup that specialised in the development of immersive, installation-based experiences and included VR, AR, mixed realities, and holograms among its technology platforms.

Mr Dowsing helped the company grow rapidly and by 2012 his role changed to business development manager.

He had a dream list of clients and cutting-edge technology at his disposal, he says in a page on his website.

“In my time there I created holograms for Shell, virtual and augmented reality experiences for BP and Vodafone, 3D films with Manchester United.

“We went on to complete the successful sale of the company after having tripled in size and reached our targets in a post-global financial crisis market.”

Mr Dowsing returned to New Zealand and enjoyed a couple of years surfing before running for the council in 2016.

“I ran because of my desire to see more digital industry in the