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Above a bakery in Portland, Oregon, a unique group of storytellers are quietly changing museum and exhibit experiences all over the world. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, we meet Second Story, creators of award-winning interactive projects for clients that include the Getty Museum, National Geographic, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian Institution, just to name but a few.
Founders Julie Beeler and Brad Johnson introduce us to their uniquely talented studio where their signature interactive design is conceived and produced. Second Story creates immersive adventures that educate and entertain through compelling visuals, touch and play, and inspiring participation through curiosity.
We follow the team as they reveal one of their latest triumphs, the Age of Mammals exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, designed to both please the doctorates and the first graders who participate in their finished project.
(Music playing.) Julie Beeler: I met Brad in Berkeley, California. I had moved there after going to school at University of the Pacific, and was working for a graphic design studio, and became really excited with what was going on with multimedia in the Bay Area. I thought, "That's something I could do." So I decided to kind of teach myself that. I looked for a job that would allow me the opportunity to learn a little bit more, because of course I didn't have any skills in multimedia.
I had an opportunity to work with The Burdick Group, which was a firm in San Francisco, and they were working on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And they were putting in some of the very early interactives that you see in museums and cultural institutions today. Brad Johnson: Up until that point, I was living in Berkeley and was a painter and supporting myself doing construction and carpentry and things like that. It was a height of the CD-ROM craze, where Voyager titles were all over the place, and you could go to the bookstores and get CD-ROMs of really compelling things related to travel or entertainment, educational titles; everything was coming out right then, especially in the Bay Area; it was a really popular movement.
I just was completely enamored with that. I got my first computer then and thought, "I need to be part of this. I need to learn how to create those kind of experiences." So I went to San Francisco State and took some 3D classes and an interactive storytelling class and started to put together this presentation about clothespins, as kind of just a test case. And it won lots of awards, and then, all of sudden, people started calling me to do more sort of floppy disk and CD-ROM-like promotional pieces.
At this time, I was by myself, and I had some friends that were also kind of doing this business. I got called by GE Capital to create something that was a lot bigger than just one guy could do, got this other company involved, and they had just recently hired Julie. Julie: I found a great firm in Berkeley called Smetts Stafford Media. They said, "Our first project that we're going to do is with our friend Brad. We're going to go over to his office," and that's how I met Brad, and things started to take off from there.
Brad Johnson: Then that relationship became both romantic and professional. As I got more and more work coming in for my company with National Geographic and PBS and Discovery, I needed more help, and we started to work together and ultimately then grew the company, changed the name from Brad Johnson Presents to Second Story. Julie: From there, we just started moving into these environments where museums were a little late in adopting technology.
We were right there at the forefront, and were able to be the go-to team that could put together innovative, interactive experiences and balance that with a lot of content and organization, so...
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