Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stepping Up To the Plate

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Sean Lam and I'm from Singapore. I'm the Creative Director at Plate Interactive, a tiny web design studio I recently founded. I formerly co-founded Kinetic Interactive and have since left the company after ten fantastic years to embark on this new adventure.

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 was never really interested in studying when I was younger, so because of that, my results weren't good enough for me to get into a university after my tertiary education. After serving my nation (it's compulsory for Singaporean males to join the military) for two and a half years, I decided to follow a close friend to enrol in an art school.

Art was something I was fond of and because of that, I easily excelled in school. I chose to specialize in digital media because of the inner geek in me. I love computer gaming, music and animation, so choosing this course allowed me to marry all of my interests as it is a multi-sensory medium.

After leaving school, I worked mostly on Director-based CD-Rom projects. It was the time when the internet was still in its infancy stage, and everyone was on 28.8 modems. Things got exciting when Flash appeared on the scene and I immediately got hooked on it. That's when I knew I wanted to be in this business for good.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
It's all about interest. Interest keeps me and the rest of my team up at night, scouring the web for cool new finds. As individuals, we have diversity on our side and we keep one another informed all the time on what interests us as designers or programmers alike. These finds quite often inspire and motivate us to get off our backsides and create something together.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
My ideal client is someone who is intelligent, reasonable, has a clear understanding of branding as well as a clear vision of what they want to achieve. Even if they do not know how to get there, but is willing to listen to suggestions and opinions in order to solve problems and journey together. It will naturally also be a bonus if they are generous with budget, prompt in payment and have a fixed project cut-off date.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Through reasoning and showing very detailed mockups that leave little to the imagination of how the end product will look like or function.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
It's hard to say, I have done many projects that I'm proud of in the last ten years or so. One of the best was a project I did when I was still with Kinetic. It's a website for an Indonesian yogurt store called Sour Sally Frozen Yogurt.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
I'm used to running out 3 to 4 projects at one go. Comfortably, I would say 2. Naturally, the less you have on your Plate, the better the output.

Q: What tools do you use to help you better organize your projects?
I'm ironically old school in this aspect, so I don't use any special tools other than a good old Moleskine to take notes, Open Office for all my digital administration needs and an iphone to keep in touch. So far, the agency set-ups I've been involved in are all rather small in size, so keeping track of projects is not really an issue as we don't deal with a huge volume of work at one go.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
I'm happy with my team now. A small crew no doubt, but a very capable and dedicated bunch. There's too many areas to specialize in on the internet these days. I do not see ourselves being a jack of all trades and have chosen to remain focused on web design and if needs be, work with other production teams on other forms of digital projects.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
By always listening to them and delivering, most of the time, above and beyond what we set out to achieve. We really do care about our projects being beneficial to the clients as it's really a direct reflection of the quality of our services.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Because of the diversity of platforms out there, I think there will be more and more small shops specializing in different fields of digital, eg. augmented reality, papervision 3D, motion graphics, social networking, digital installations etc, and less of those 1 big digital agency that does everything inhouse.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
It's good to stay hungry.

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