Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Juxt The Facts

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
I’m Devin Silberfein; a Senior Project Manager at Juxt Interactive in Newport Beach, California. We’re an interactive boutique that has been turning out cutting edge, exciting and fun work for all types of brands over past ten years. After recently being acquired by Event Marketing specialists George P. Johnson, we’re looking forward to growing our expertise beyond interactive advertising and marketing to event-based experiences as well.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
Like many of my colleagues, it happened by accident. I’m embarrassed to admit I made my first website using Adobe Photoshop 3.0 and a text editor when I was in high school, but I never considered it as a career. I went to school for Film & Television and took my first job encoding and editing videos for TWIinteractive, the interactive media arm of IMG, the sports marketing company. I was responsible for videos on websites for Tiger Woods, the Williams’ Sisters, US Soccer and more. Eventually, my personality and communications background steered me towards project management. Despite my mother’s belief that I’ll someday return to television production, I have no regrets about the transition.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
I’d like to say that the 100+ feeds in my reader keep me on top of new technologies and creative breakthroughs but unfortunately (fortunately?) I’ve been too busy to catch up on everything. I think word-of-mouth is actually more effective for me these days. Everyone has a link to the latest, greatest thing. We all help share what’s interesting on the web whether that’s through technological means, such as social bookmarking, emails and IMs, or through the more traditional watercooler conversation method (“Hey, did you see that new site that Skittles did?”).

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
This is my personal checklist. The more items I can check off, the better it’ll likely go:
1. Client’s expectations are in line with the budget and schedule
2. There is enough budget and time in the schedule to do the project the RIGHT way (you said “ideal”, right?)
3. We are doing something just far enough outside of our box that it’s challenging and exciting, but not so far that it’s terrifying – well, maybe a little terrifying
4. Client is accessible and understands what’s involved in the production process
5. No need for legal review (again, “ideal”)
6. Everyone on both the agency side and the Client side believes in the idea and are eager to see it done well

Q: How do you educate your Clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Like any relationship, I think this comes down to trust and honesty. I don’t like dancing around issues out of fear of tarnishing the relationship. When challenges arise on a project, I prefer to address them with the Client on the belief that they’ll respect me for being straight with them. Ultimately, my job is to get projects done well, on time, and on budget and I think most of my Clients recognize that some occasional bluntness is really in the best interest of the project, which is to say, in their best interest.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
I think my favorite project is a DVD-ROM I worked on for USA Hockey several years ago that helped teach coaches and parents around the country the proper way to teach ice hockey skills. It may not sound like the most exciting project, but I am a die-hard hockey fan and it was a blast working with the governing hockey organization in the US. They were a great Client who was extremely excited about the project and I got to hang out in an ice rink for two weeks as we shot over 400 drills. It ended up being a commercial success and I even learned a few things to improve my own game along the way.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?

I definitely prefer to have a few things on my plate at once since I get bored easily if I’m working on just one large project. It’s hard to say an exact number since projects come in all sizes and get busy at different times in the production cycle. Currently I’m working on 3 large projects and 2 smaller ones but they are all at different points in their project plans. I think I’d be crazy if they were all kicking off at the same time, or worse, launching together.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?

Charlie’s Angels with a lot of AS3 experience.

Q: How do you ensure that your Client's best interests are met?

This relates to the question about managing Client’s expectations. Dialogs with the Client at the beginning of a project to help establish those interests and align expectations will definitely help you pave the way. Once you understand that, it’s a matter of making sure your team understands it as well. I try to make sure any directive, request, feedback or revision expresses not only what needs to be done, but why. Ultimately, this helps keep everyone involved in the project and also contextualize Client feedback, which otherwise might seem unfounded or even counterintuitive.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
From a trend standpoint, it sounds cliché to say but mobile is the next big thing - but I don’t think it’s arrived just yet. Much like the dot-com era, I think we still need to discover how to use mobile platforms for practical applications instead of little “isn’t that cool?” type apps. It won’t be enough to create a iPhone or Blackberry app that is downloaded by x amount of people; successful applications will be tracked like mainstream web properties (e.g. how long people use them, what they click on, etc). Proven ROI will be increasingly important especially as brands search for cost effective ways interact with consumers.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Always double check who’s CC’d when you hit “reply all”. It happens to the best of us.

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