Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From Somebody Else

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
The beard is Bryant Florez and the mug on the right is Justen Holter. We are the collective force behind From Somebody Else (http://www.fromsomebodyelse.com). With our knees deep in creative and interactive development, our true obsession is in the collaboration and execution of great work.

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?
Justen’s love for organization and logic makes him a dev at heart with great appreciation for design and aesthetics. Exploring unique ways to combine his passions, he took to Flash development over 6 years ago and has been living and breathing Actionscript ever since. I, on the other hand, have been doodling, constructing, or designing something ever since developing manual dexterity. After studying Architectural Design, my love for art and animation brought me to Full Sail University where I met Justen and we began collaborating on interactive experiments. Having attended our first industry conference as students, it was at FITC in Toronto where we realized how insanely amazing this industry was and how far we had to go before truly becoming part of it.

After graduating Full Sail, our collaboration continued professionally as we both joined the AgencyNet team. Over the years we climbed the ranks as Art Director and Senior Flash Developer, having produced great work for numerous brands that include Bacardi, Eristoff, BBC America, Oxygen, Roxy Hunter, Beaches, Ford, and the State of Colorado’s anti-tobacco campaigns.

With several years and tons of shared experiences, we left our friends at AgencyNet to set out on our own. We are now From Somebody Else.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
Motivation should be considered a requirement! If you find yourself lacking in that department, branch out beyond your niche. It’s a sure way to discover new inspirations and opportunities.

As for keeping up with the Joneses, usual suspects like blogs, friends, conferences, twitter, meet ups, and all things alike are great forums for keeping tabs on what’s hot. Always keep your ear to the ground. Sometimes we simply start our day a couple hours earlier to get caught up with our feeds and get hip to the lingo. When a certain technology is making waves and has the potential to benefit us and/or our client, we simply make it a point to devote some attention to it. We like to try everything that is relevant to our field and see how it fits into our arsenal. At times it’s the ideas that inspire the need for new technologies. So when you can, dream up new challenges and unique ways to approach them.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?

The ideal client is this mythical creature that overpays, is never rushed, and will sometimes compensate our hard earned time with tasty treats and fine wine.

In all truth, it's the less than ideal situations that produce the best results. We love our clients to be as passionate about their goals as we are about meeting them. All we ask is for an open mind and mutual transparency. Clients and projects are supposed to challenge us. If this were easy, there would be a colossal lack of awesome in our industry.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Transparency is always our best policy. Regardless of the challenge, we keep an open mind while remaining forthright about what’s truly within reach. Many times it’s not just what the client wants but what you can do for them that will make the difference. We are very transparent about our process and what we need to be successful. It takes that collaborative relationship to make things happen and arrive to the best results possible.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
Hands down our favorite project has been while we were working at AgencyNet, “Own Your C – C-Ville” (http://cville.ownyourc.com/) and “Own Your C – 2.0” (http://www.ownyourc.com/). With a fun demographic to speak to and a great team to collaborate with, this project provided a wide net of opportunities to explore. Having played significant roles in its first installment, you can imagine how stoked we were when the opportunity for 2.0 came along. This time around, our demo had matured as did our ideas and methods for execution. This project gave us a playground to experiment all things creative, animation, interactive, and technical.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
It depends. At one time, we were wrapping up our biggest Flash project as we started another micro site and some rich media campaigns. Most projects are riddled with slow and chaotic phases, so it’s definitely a balancing act. Certain projects tend to dictate how much of our time and focus is required, thus limiting our bandwidth for anything else. So yeah, it depends.

Q: What tools do you use to help you better organize your projects?

Now you’re talking! One thing we LOVE is being organized! There are several tools we use in our production arsenal that keeps us and our projects in line.

We develop all our projects using SVN to maintain versions and effective file sharing. Opting for a hosted solution, we went with the super awesome Spring Loops (http://www.springloops.com). This keeps our heads out of IT and focused on the development aspects of the project. Additionally, it offers some great tools for deploying your projects and notifications. For tasking and bug tracking needs, we use Lighthouse (http://lighthouseapp.com/). With the right workflow, Lighthouse can be the ideal tool for project tasking, milestones, status updates, and reporting. We also love its ability to export CSV docs for our “Plan of Attack” meetings with clients.

We are extremely particular of the tools we introduce into our workflow. For us it’s important to use high impact low overhead tools that keep us focused on what’s important.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?

Aside from talented creative’s and gifted developers, a crew that has mutual respect and understanding for each other’s skill set and opinions are the simple ingredients needed for successful collaboration. We are huge advocates of the team mentality and look to surround ourselves with likeminded folks, always resulting in a fun experience.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
Discovery and Pre-Production phases are the most crucial when setting goals and determining what will work best for our clients and their projects. This provides everyone a proper venue to really explore what’s important and lay down a plan of attack. If the scope isn’t reflective of that then you need to re-evaluate. Once we’re ready to kick things off, we champion forward with transparency and flexibility.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
The sheer growth of this industry is one of the biggest things we’ve noticed. It’s moving into this huge space, covering anything capable of recognizing human input. The technology used to produce the future is becoming stronger and more complex with each new platform that comes out. We would love to see this motivate more collaboration between companies and individuals that specialize in a particular offering, and less of the one stop shop mindset.

Then again, the forecast is looking more like augmented social reality, animated GIFs, and WordPress 4.0.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Be nice. Keep it real. Put yourself out there.