Sunday, May 31, 2009

Urbian Legend

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Gary Willmott, Producer/Partner of Urbian in Cape Town South Africa. Urbian is an independent Online Creative Production Company with a sole purpose of doing great work! Although we are based in Cape Town 80% of our projects are from the UK delivered from some well known agencies such as TribalDDB , Analog Folk.

We are a team of specialists (think Ocean's 11) which we formed in 2005. We do motion and interactive in all its hues and shades, but combining the two is what makes us tick! We research and develop things all the time. We eat food almost every time we meet and some of us have grown mustaches. The Jingle sums it all up.

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?
Started off in my early school days with a friend who managed to get a copy of 3D studio ( DOS version). I got so hooked, that I left school to focus on 3D animation and ended up finishing school from home. I was doing some great work but got frustrated with the machines back then, my good old 486 just took forever to render decent animation. So I ended up taking on online projects to finance myself to get better machines. It just snowballed from there, from HTML to flash, working as a Interactive Developer at numerous agencies around Cape Town. Eventually got tired of working for companies that limited my growth. I formed Urbian with a partner who had similar views with me, to do SICK ASS Projects! Nothing ELSE!

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
There are the normal blogs that I subscribe to via Google Reader, Twitter Feeds, etc. But I must say after a good surf or kitesurf I get ideas flooding in, there is something about being in nature and getting away from the machine that helps produce fresh ideas.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
An progressive educated client with a good knowledge on what makes this online social world tick makes the world of difference. That's why we have opted to mostly work for UK clients as South African clients are still very far behind in their thinking. Had a client who runs the marketing on wine farm the other day request an Augmented Reality, I was gobsmacked! It gets so ridiculous sometimes, I have even been thinking about putting clients on a course before we can do work for them :P

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
We go through a very detailed and story-boarded process as much as possible at the beginning of every project. Making the client aware of what they can expect but more importantly what they can't expect.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
We just wrapped up a project for the Glade Festival 2009 ( ) . We built an interactive map where users are able to navigate through the festival line-up via scrubbing back and forth on the timeline to see which artists are playing where and at what time. It was a pleasure working with Ans and the team there, they completely respected us, and when they gave input it was always appreciated and made sense. We fell so in love with the project that we built a competition mechanic that generated so many hits, that the server fell over twice.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
2 active projects, 2 in a start-up/wrapping stage. Anything more than that and you end up just managing the project instead of adding value.

Q: What tools do you use to help you better organize your projects?
Microsoft Project, Goplan, Springloops, DropBox, Google docs. Keen to try out "omniplan", any recommendations?

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
Urbian, seriously. Even if I had to work for a company again, not too sure where else I would want to go.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
Education, Communication. I think the biggest key is not to use certain technology for the sake of using it. But finding the right mix of ingredients that suits a project.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Its in a weird place, even though I feel like user generated content is going to fall-over, I still think its got a long way to go.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Work to live as apposed to living to work, try it yourself and you will notice your work just gets better. Here is a freebee: Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

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