12 November 2010
Turning sunshine into song
Euan Williamson from Creative Environment and RMIT lecturer Dr Barry Hill explain the finer points of the Germinate project as part of the inaugural Melbourne Music Festival.
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Students in RMIT University's Music Industry program have discovered the secret of turning sunshine into rock 'n' roll.
In collaboration with industry partner Creative Environment Enterprises and students from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, the team researched, designed and built Australia's first mobile solar-powered AV production system.
The Germinate Project was launched on a rainy day in Melbourne as part of the inaugural City of Melbourne Music Festival.
The system powered the entire sound and lighting for the stage in the City Square, where emerging Melbourne muso's strutted their stuff.
Dr Barry Hill, a lecturer in the Music Industry - Bachelor of Arts program, secured the funding and initiated the project.
"I wanted to engage students in a real-world project where they were forced to think outside the box and create a project that was innovative, sustainable and appealed to industry partners," he said.
The music industry is one where many innovations are taking place that have applications to other research areas.
"It was really exciting to collaborate with Creative Environment Enterprises and realise that we could work together on a shared goal," Dr Hill said.
"It's important to demonstrate that within the music industry, creative innovations in sustainable energy use and consumption, town planning and technology development are taking place.
"The solutions that are being put in place by music festival organisers in particular have much wider implications for our society than just for rock 'n' roll."
The work-integrated learning project has been of particular benefit to the students, who have seen their ideas turn into a marketable, viable and in-demand industry resource (Mushroom has already expressed an interest in hiring the unit for festivals) as well as learning the skills required to work effectively as a production company.
"Seeing the rig running a functional stage with lighting and sound was a bit surreal," Music Industry student, Claire Lothian, said.
"To watch the project go from a concept through to an operational real-world product has been an extraordinary experience."
Project Manager, Mary Mathews, agreed. "We've built something that that will make people sit up and listen … sustainably," she said.
"The project has taught me more about the real-world issues facing the music industry and the opportunities these present. The blinkers are off."
The Germinate system set up and ready to go in City Square.
Photos by Justin Vague. Copyright City of Melbourne 2010.
Lights and music, courtesy of the Melbourne Music Festival and Germinate.