Heading for Vancouver
10/31/2023 - 14:29
Roi Tal. Born and raised in Israel. I spoke to him a few days after Hamas’ unexpected attack on Israel.
‘We’ll just let the interview go ahead,’ Roi says firmly. ‘No matter how difficult the situation is. I need a distraction and besides, I really like talking about my experience with the Master Media Innovation.’
At the time of the interview, Roi is busy writing motivational letters.
‘I’m preparing for living in Vancouver,’ Roi explains, ‘but it’s quite a challenge to find a job there, because I’m doing it remotely. I met some Canadian colleagues here at BUas who were kind enough to help me with recommendations and such.’
‘Actually, I want to live in an English-speaking country. I didn’t want to go to America, the UK is nice, but I wanted it to be a bit more special. Canada has beautiful nature and marvellous views, I love that. I already got my visa, now all I need is a job!’
What would your ideal job look like?
‘The type of work I did for BUas. That would be great for a start. During my master’s I worked as a Radio Studio & Brand Manager at the BUas HUB. I am engaged in the fields of media and marketing, and I think a communication role would fit me perfectly.’
What was your most important drive for choosing the Master Media Innovation?
‘To be honest, I found my feet at BUas. I had my job on campus and my girlfriend was doing her master’s in Rotterdam. So, we would stay for another year anyway. Why not seize the opportunity to develop myself academically, I thought. I felt like the bachelor’s programme (Creative Business, eds.) had given me a good basis, but I did need something to bring it to the next level.’
And that’s what the Master Media Innovation did?
‘It is exactly what the master’s did! I can’t say I’ve learnt really new specific things, but what you do in the master’s is on a larger and more serious scale. It is about in-depth research and developing your academic skills.’
What did this master’s year bring you?
‘A lot! In the first place, I think of the people I met and the connections I made. In the bachelor’s I made two or three good friends, in the master’s it was more like a community, with some 30 really passionate and professional people. They all came to learn and debate, whereas in the bachelor’s you are all just young people finding out who you really are.’
Struggles? They’re always there in any good story.
‘Yep. The business model for sure. I’m not really a strategic guy. I’m more practical and content-minded, so it was a bit of a struggle to read through all those business articles. And I remember one group assignment – out of six – that was to me kind of a struggle as well. In a way, dynamics and communications didn’t work, but we tried to make things work. It was definitely a tough learning experience, but you know, these things happen in real life.’
So, a lot of group work it was. What was the best experience?
‘Making an app for Warner Music Benelux. No doubt. We got a brief, the challenges and goals, and we started to make a concept. It was so exciting, I even wished it was a bigger part of my master’s. And not only because of my personal connection with music, which has always been a common thread throughout my life so far. I used to play the guitar in a band, I went to a music & arts secondary school, and I was a musician in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. So yeah, it was the main thing I did in my life those days. Albeit it was not the career I wanted to pursue. But I definitely chose to be a manager at the BUas Radio Station because of my background.’
And the topic of your thesis? Was that also because of your background?
‘Not necessarily. In the first or second month of my master’s, I attended a lecture by Fraser Robinson on the topic of archives. And he did speak a lot about Holocaust projects that – of course – have everything to do with archives. It was so interesting, it triggered me to find out whether this could be my topic - researching the potentials of utilising VR for Holocaust education. I spoke to some colleagues of the BUas Experience Lab, it took me a few weeks to further fine-tune the idea. I was drawn to it because it touched me personally. Both my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. So, for me, it was a very meaningful project.’
Was it the most valuable part of the master’s?
‘The thesis, after all, was definitely my favourite part of the master’s. The subject – of course – is close to my heart, I was very eager to learn, and it was lovely to create something myself. I got a 10 for my defence. And that was it. That may sound a bit crude, but I actually think it's a pity that it ended there and then. My tip for graduating students would be, if you feel like you have a good idea, just double-check if you can take it further. In my opinion, product-based graduation projects are better suited for this than pure research projects like mine.’
Nevertheless, I am curious about the outcome. You don't get a 10 for nothing!
‘In my research project, I showed about 40 people a VR and a non-VR version of the same Holocaust film. My research also included a questionnaire using a seven-point Likert scale. How engaged did you feel? How distracted were you? How emotional, et cetera. The outcome, in a nutshell, was that VR is much more beneficial to engagement and empathy. The effects of the experience itself were higher when watching the VR version of the film. My interest in VR and AI certainly grew during my master's. I want to constantly push myself to experiment, learn and do better.’
Update December 2023: Due to the tragic events back home, Roi's plans have been affected, and as a result, he won't be making the move to Vancouver.