Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Wunderman

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.

My name is Daniel Farinella and I’m the director of Flash animation and multimedia development at Wunderman New York. Wunderman is a global relationship marketing agency focused on creating and maintaining impactful conversations between our clients and their customers. Surrounding myself with a truly passionate group of professional developers and animators, my team and I are constantly pushing the limits of digital development through new and different types of digital media and programming. I appreciate the skill and dedication of my team, and marvel at what they accomplish daily.

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?

Majoring in 3D modeling and animation at the New York Institute of Technology, I learned the theories of good design, motion, and typography early on. After graduation, I was faced with the harsh reality that jobs in the 3D space were indeed scarce in New York City. I wasn’t willing to move to the west coast at that time in my life, so I began to accept positions in other areas of the computer graphics field. Throughout the next few years, I worked in a variety of disciplines such as package design, magazine layout, photo retouching, video editing, motion graphics, and interactive art direction. All along, I became quite proficient in the required applications for each of these disciplines.

I was introduced to a new application called Flash and was instantly impressed with its capabilities and how it could create animation at such a small file size. I devoted the next few weeks learning the ins and outs of this new application. Once I became proficient in the tools available, I began to apply my knowledge and training in 3D modeling / animation to my projects in Flash. I was hooked. This short learning period was enough for me to decide that a career in Flash was right for me. From that point on, I was a Flash animator / developer and nothing else. I spent the next few years freelancing for an array of different advertising agencies. I paid close attention to how each agency organized their projects and talent. Being exposed to so many different organizations, I was able to form an educated opinion of how I feel a Flash development team should be run.

After jumping around the New York agency circuit, I finally found my way to Wunderman and I really enjoyed it. Today, I still like working at Wunderman for the same reasons that I liked it when I joined: the projects are good, the work is consistent, and I really like the people. In 2006, Nick Moore took the creative reigns here and expanded the New York office’s digital offering. Nick offered me the opportunity to build and direct a team of Flash animators. This was a great opportunity, but just having a group of Flash animators churning out banners wasn’t what I felt the agency needed. In order for Wunderman to stay competitive and in line with the evolution of interactive / digital media production, I needed to do better. I searched out and hired a small group of passionate multitalented animators and developers who are truly passionate about their art. I provided them with quality equipment, a healthy dose of motivation and as a team, we achieved my vision of a fully functioning multimedia studio. Now we provide Wunderman with a vast array of services that include Flash animation / programming, custom application development, motion graphics, video editing, sound / music production, and enhanced presentation services.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
My team and I are all multi-talented animators, developers, and overall digital artists. We all have a passion for technology and can’t keep our fingers off every new piece of software to hit the market. In my own case, just having the right team is the key to keeping them informed. On many occasions, they are teaching me new things they have learned.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
It’s hard for me to pick out which project was my favorite, but I’m sure every director interviewed on this site can tell you which project was their worst.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
My ideal client is one that is willing to push the boundaries of digital media. A project from this client would include every different discipline my team is capable of, but used in a well thoughout and cohesive manner. Just because we can do it doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?

Clients are sometimes uncertain about the technologies they require to achieve their goals. I always make myself, and my team, available for internal and external client consultation.

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

I pride myself on organization and having a great team. I believe this increases my ability to take on more projects than one might expect.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
My dream production team looks exactly like it does now. Everyone on my team is an expert in Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, and other base computer graphics applications. Some of the team members are proficient in AS 2 and 3 while others are video editors, motion graphics artists, and digital musicians. We’ve got a well-rounded team that breaks the conventional silos you’ll often find in the typical development department. The strength of having this type of multitalented team is that a project can be worked on by multiple developers at one time. This style of teamwork helps us cut down the overall production time and enables us to make the tight deadlines that plague the advertising industry.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
I do this by working closely with directors from other key areas of the company. Formulating a tight plan and paying close attention to the clients’ goals before a project kicks off, makes it easy for my team to focus on the technical aspects of their projects.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
It’s always hard to tell what the future holds. I see the popularity of both video and social media being the main influences that will drive the types of projects we will be creating in the near future. As for the next phase of our industry, I hope to see Adobe and Google sort out the issues surrounding making both static and dynamic Flash content searchable.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Flash development is not simply a part of the production process, but a major part of the creative process. How a site functions and moves can easily dictate the mood and overall effectiveness of a project.

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