Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Advance Jordan

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Eric Jordan. I am the Chief Creative Officer for 2Advanced Studios, an interactive design studio based out of Southern California. 2Advanced Studios was born in 1999 and since its inception has completed well over 600 projects for various clients including AOL, Ford, Activision, EA Games, Google, and many more.

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?
I originally wanted to be a comic book artist. I used to scan my ink illustrations into the computer for the purpose of coloring them in Photoshop. Eventually I found myself designing fliers for electronic dance music parties and dabbling with HTML. At some point, I found myself creating these screen-by-screen animations in PowerPoint where I would line up various designs, attempting to string it all together into a kind of story-driven animatic. Suddenly, Flash came along and it changed everything. I was right in the middle of the revolution when it hit. That was the start of it all.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
I have a lot of close relationships with the right people in the right places. This helps me stay on top of new products and technology coming out. Our relationship with Adobe is great. We often get to meet with the Flash team to provide insight into how our studio operates, how we use Flash in production, and how we think the technology could be improved. Everyone stays motivated on their own, so I do not typically have to get them hyped up on raising the bar. We only hire designers and developers that are highly self-motivated and WANT to take things to the next level on every project.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
The ideal client/project is one where the focus is a product or service that we can get excited about and where the client will allow us as much creative freedom as we need to properly do our job. Sometimes a project can lose momentum if the client tries to reign in our creativity and doesn't let us find the sweet spot. Projects typically go smooth and successfully when we are given room to explore and break new ground.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Having successfully delivered 600+ projects, we try to help our clients understand where we are coming from when we try to steer them in a particular direction. It might be surprising to many that, although we are considered a "Flash" studio first and foremost, we often do not push Flash as a solution. Most clients would not benefit from a Flash solution and so we try to educate them why their project would best be married to a different technology. Sometimes this proves to be an uphill battle, but we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't at least try to help the client understand our position and our recommendations. Simply going along with what the client tells you they want would be irresponsible and could ultimately end up causing a project to fail miserably. We've seen it happen on more than one occasion.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
The best projects are always our internal ones, mainly the 2Advanced website. The whole team gets together and brainstorms like crazy, living on Redbull and loud techno for weeks at a time, often sleeping under desks or not even sleeping at all. It's always an intensely creative time where everyone is working in both synchronistic harmony and utter chaos at the same time. It's always a surreal and rewarding experience.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
The team can typically handle around 5-6 projects at any given time without blowing a head-gasket. We've done away with the typical red-tape and bureaucratic processes that typically weigh companies down, so we're pretty streamlined and we are able to work rapidly while maintaining quality. We try to limit the amount of projects we are working on because quality is a big factor for us, and we never want to see that fall by the wayside.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?

A team of multi-talented people is ideal. It's great having people who specialize, however there are times when their skills might not be in high demand because the types of projects we are working on may be skewed in another direction. It's not very beneficial to the company to have people twiddling their thumbs in a corner. To have people who can morph and transform based on the types of projects we have going helps keep everyone productive and engaged in what is going on. It is not out of the ordinary for us to have a programmer working on 3D animations, for example.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
First, we make sure that our side understands what the client wants to achieve and that everyone on our team has a clear understanding of how we are going to get there. Projects can often miss the mark if there is miscommunication or if someone doesn't understand the big picture. Even if someone is just doing a button design in Photoshop, they have to know all about the project, the client, and their ultimate goals. Making sure that everyone involved, from point A to point Z, understands this is key.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
I think we will see the Flash platform being extended to other devices and other industries, particularly set-top boxes, airline seat screens, and mobile devices (such as Flash for iPhone). Skilled designers and developers will have a whole new market open to them, without being cornered into the niche of web development. They will be able to apply their talents to a whole new range of mediums.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.

If it's a "job", you aren't doing what you love.

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