Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Panel discussion and Q&A, part 1, part of Real-World Design: Live Presentations from Creative Leaders.
(synthesizer introductory music) - I wanted to define some terms, if you wouldn't mind. Some of you spoke about transmedia and I'd like you to define transmedia because we're having some debates about that around here at school and I think it would be helpful for us hear it from an outsider, or sort of a inside outsider. - Wait, that was to me? I was really hoping you would throw it to somebody else first. You know it's a hateful term.
Transmedia, it actually makes it... You know, multimedia doesn't work anymore. Transmedia was tried out in the late '90s, early 2000s. It's supposed to be the idea that you can have content that flows from space to space. The way we used to teach it in Superstudio in the grad program was we used to say, you know, "Every time you encounter a situation, you should "be able to design for specificities of that situation." So that you're not the surgeon who always goes in with a scalpel, you're not the carpenter who always goes in with a hammer, but that you're someone who can use the scalpel, the hammer, and can craft things that can flow very easy and were content.
And I think it was a very content-focused concept. I think that today, especially with mobile media and with having to design from really multiple, almost endless platforms, I don't know if we've got a good term for that right now. I mean, we still use transmedia but... - Any thoughts Erich? 'Cause your transmedia storytelling-- - Yeah. - Mighty, mighty industry known. (Peter laughing) - They must...
- I mean-- - Transmedia storytellers. - Yeah. - The short answer would be I agree. I think there's so many devices now we... And knowing that we're faced with brands now that are global. And so, you know the term that we... There's also localization. It... I agree. (Erich and audience laughing) - Do you want to add anything Dave? - I mean, I think we all hear, teach, and you learn that there are, you know, tons of different places where your designs are gonna show up, so you have to be aware of them, but I think that the design itself is what's important and the implementation is kind of like a side effect of the whole thing.
- As I'm listening to your presentations, I wondered is the power of media in the collective? - It is now. - Well, certainly what you're doing with the means points to that. - And you were talking about collaboration and that that would necessarily demand collaboration? - Yeah. I mean, one thing you would have to remember about me is I'm essentially a misanthrope and I like to sit by myself and just think things that are better than what other people think.
And then I put them out into the world and see if they survive, these ideas, and sometimes they do and as with Pagester, sometimes they don't. But I, yeah, I think that's actually one of the hardest things for you guys right now and for any of us which is to think like, what's the place of the individual creator and the individual creative intelligence? because you know...
It is something new and I think that the multiplicity of creatives and the fact that everything that I showed tonight, everything, I had to do with other people. And so obviously I believe in that, including writing a book. No one in the humanities writes collaboratively. I mean they write... I mean, we really wrote like a round-robin, we would just send it around. By the end, we knew we'd written some of it and we knew we hadn't written all of it but we couldn't recognize what was our contribution. It was truly a kind of choral voice.
So I really enjoyed that, but the book I'm working on now keep your hands off, 'cause it's all mine. - Erich, how do you describe to your mother what you do? (Peter and audience laughing) - Oh boy, that's interesting. - Actually, how would your mother describe to one of her friends what you do? - I don't know, I mean my mother lives fairly close to where I am now.
She comes to set with me when I'm directing occasionally and embarrasses me. (laughing) She's not as embarrassing as my father was. My father's passed, he was very embarrassing. I, you know, and she isn't... New media for her is a little bit of a challenge. You know, she's gone on the Facebook and things like that. But some of this other stuff, like for her to experience clouds or...
We just actually launched a project at the U.S. Open, a tennis match, and we did this project that I was telling her about with James Murphy, a musician. And we did this project where we had Tool, through coding and design,wanted to essentially come up with a soundtrack for a live tennis match as you were watching it, if you were in New York City watching the match.
And so what James did is he came up with a different note for every time a ball is hit a specific way, or served, or it was bounced, or was volleyed. And so what you could do is you could sit in the stadium and watch it in real time and you could get on your mobile device and plug in a headset and you would hear a piece of synchronized music in real time to the tennis match that was happening. You could also do that if you were watching it live too.
So I think that at some point during this conversation my mother just glosses over and gets a big smile and is like, "That's great." It was for... IBM sponsored the project. I think she's just a proud mother. (laughs) And I don't know other, she knows TV commercials. but I really think "Internet stuff" I think she would describe it. - One of the reasons I asked is because as our students are graduating and are putting the word "transmedia designer" on their business cards their mothers are going, "What? "Would you explain that to me? "What is it that you do"? - And it was interesting, I was laughing so hard at your response that...
But I think that if someone puts it on their card they're trying to say that they can do anything. And I think there's good and bad of the generalist I guess is what I would say about that. I... I don't know how I feel. - Dave is there such a thing as new media now? - I mean, sure, you know, Snapshot, I mean there's all kinds of whatever the new media is.
- Does it still refer to new media because of the "new"? - Not by those guys. Who here has referred to Snapshot as new media? Nobody. I mean, so there's constantly new types of media coming out but I don't think anyone refers to it by that title, they just refer it as the new cool thing. Snapchat, Yik Yak, well, nobody uses Yik Yak right? - Is there new media in your...? - Well, the university moves really slowly, so yeah, I think people still... I occasionally have to identify myself as a new media theorist, that really shuts down conversation pretty fast.
(David laughing) You know and I've just decided I follow the Germans, call myself a media philosopher and then you get the cat that pulls back, you know? And so that's fine, I'd much prefer that. And I think we've kind of subsumed all of this now back into the word "media", that if McLuhan really comes up with the idea of media as being pretty much all of the extensions of the human.
It broke back up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and then I think, there was a kind of certain excitement in the mid 90s about new media, and then CD-ROMs died and... No response, no laughter, because they don't know what a CD-ROM is. So, basically I think that now we're back in media creation. And I can remember being one of the two people who came up with the term "media design" with Brenda Laurel because we had a department here called Communication and New Media Design, really rolled off the tongue, C and NMD.
So we sat down and it was a branding exercise, and we just decided we would chop everything off except for Media Design and we said, "This really works" and that this was the first place were there was an actual program called Media Design in the world. And now there's dozens, if not hundreds of programs that call themselves Media Design around the world and I think that I'm happy with it. I totally agree nobody thinks when a new app comes out it's new media, they think it's just an app and it's either successful or it's not.
You know, I think that, that's kind of where we are now. - If you could create a class just from scratch and teach something to students that you don't teach now that is relevant to this power of media, what kind of class would it be? - Don't ask me first. - I mean, I'm teaching it already, but it's going a little rough. We're doing a Swift class, which is Apple's new programming language. But I think digital hygiene would be a good one 'cause I think that that's so pervasive like, you know, we put ourselves out there on the internet, but even how our desktop is organized, how we organize files, I'm constantly giving you guys (censored) for how you do things and I'm like, "This is messy, you should clean it up" and "You should name your files this way" and "You shouldn't put nudes on anything." Never anywhere, that's gonna end up out there.
So there's so many different things that you know, even me at 36 years old, I still do stuff now that I'll probably regret in 10 years. But you guys are really gonna regret some of the stuff that you're doing right now in 10 years so, if I could give you some knowledge right now I think that'll be really helpful. And I try to do that in all my classes like, "Here are some keyboard shortcuts." "Here's how you should organize your desktop." "Back up your files." That's a big one, so... - But that actually goes back to the very notion of like elegant code, right? That's something I always appreciated about really great coders was that they actually felt there was a visual elegance to a well-written piece of code.
And that's really about kind of keeping things clean, having your go-to lists, having everything well organized so that you're not doing multiple subroutines when you could just do one. And you know it's changed, as code has grown to be something that you know, it used to be thousands of lines, then millions of lines, and now we're up... There's probably stuff that's trillions of lines now somewhere. - At the NSA? - You know it. - Yeah. - Right? And so I think that I don't know if that holds true anymore, but I think again it's that notion of collaborative and in the personal and maybe one of the things we can start to ask people is a kind of digital ethic, which is hygiene and ethics.
- And I think that part of writing code isn't just writing code, it's the design of the code, so what you said is like that the layout of your code, how you indent, how you name your variables... I try to impress upon the students that it's really important to make that clean because, you know, when you go back and look at it a year later, you're gonna be a different person. If you make a big sloppy mess of your code, you're not gonna understand it. But if it's clean and elegant, it has structure, it has a beauty in itself, even though it's code that no one will ever see. - So Erich, if you could teach people to really be effective within the context of Tool and really shape the future of what's going on in your company, what kind of course would you teach them? - It's a tough question, I've been thinking about it for 24 hours now but I guess I'd look back at my experience here and I haven't been to this school in quite some time.
But I think now looking back at one of the valuable things and you touched on it now is I'm along in my years and further down the road is collaboration. And not the most obvious collaboration, but to work with other people. And not just other people in your discipline but, go out and experience other people and work with them.
Grab someone from the Trans department to work on a project with. And I know it's so tough for a number of reasons within this school because everyone is so focused on what they're doing. And then the other thing, and I know for me personally early on is you're also worried about ownership. You're worried about coming out with a book, a portfolio of ideas where you go, "Hey, I did this, I did that." And I think that in my career, I was fairly guarded about that early on and I also believed that some of it was my insecurities also to whether I came on the set, or I was writing something, or coming up with ideas.
I kind of wanted to own it and show people that you know, this was mine and I could do it. And as I went on and on in my career, I started to really realize that I've surrounded myself with really great talented people, and to listen to them more, and to be more open to their ideas and to collaborate with these people. And now at this point in my life that's what's exciting for me. And so I guess what I would say is early on, grab somebody else or a group of people and try working on a project or an idea and be open to you know, the ideas that those people put forth.
You can always revert back to your original vision to it. But I think it would be interesting to sort of have a class or something like that where you invited different people and that were different kinds of thinkers and did projects with them and I love that about you know, your talk was like, "Gosh, I've collaborated with "these people and I think it's exciting." And it's something that took me many years to sort of open up to.
The second round of the series, recorded in late 2014, features Erich Joiner from the design firm Tool, Dave Bullock from the crowdfunding site CrowdRise, and Peter Lunenfield from UCLA talking about the power of media in design. The first panel features the 3x3 group: YO | LAI | DO event, featuring Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete), David Lai (Hello Design), and Chris Do (BL:ND). This transmedia trio presents projects from the fields of branding, web, and motion design, touching on the challenges of running their own firms and the importance of story, inspiration, and constant evolution.
Art Center professor and lecture series leader Petrula Vrontikis guides both panels in round-table discussions about managing client expectations, overcoming professional uncertainty, and much more.