Interview with Lynda
Interview with Lynda
Lynda: Well, welcome everybody! I am here today with Dale Herigstad from Schematic, the Chief Creative Officer, and Dale and I actually are old friends and go way back so it's wonderful to see what you have accomplished here. How many people do you have working at Schematic now? Dale Herigstad: It's roughly 400 across multiple offices. Lynda: Wow! Incredibly impressive! So I knew you back in the days when you were in broadcast design and more doing film making and motion graphics and visuals and so, what intrigues you about the interactive space and how did you make that segue-way from being purely visual into interactivity? Dale Herigstad: The thing that I really like about is that layer of like the thought process. It's moving from -- it's certainly not that there isn't any thought in like linear, making promos or making advertisements or films or whatever they are, those pieces. But they are linear and carefully crafted.
When you are crafting these experiences and you have to kind of diagram it out and you've got to think all about stuff through, it's a layer of abstraction and kind of thought that isn't in a linear piece. That's the part that I find really challenging. Lynda: There really has been no precedent for it up until the last 20 or 30 years. So it's new to everybody including you, but you're kind of inventing it. You're at the forefront of this industry. So that must also be interesting. Dale Herigstad: We have gotten this sort of brand or this sort of notoriety about stepping into innovation and stepping into designing things which are down the road. I mean big clients come to us to say "design this new thing" and that innovation. I really like that. It's important to have designers who come into that and they are not afraid of that. They want to do that and they go, okay, there is no model here to this; we are inventing the model as we go.
Lynda: How do you recruit and what do you look for when you are hiring? Dale Herigstad: We are a real people place. We like people who -- you'll see some of these people that are out here, who work with us, our gang here. Their characters, they bring an interesting personality to the table, which is important and we let that sort of exist here in the space, like many creative spaces. But also, we want people who can communicate, ideally communicate their ideas very well. So that moves into other kinds of communication skills.
Lynda: How do you test that when you are in the interviewing process. Do you have a methodology for that? Dale Herigstad: The review process is involving several people. For me, it's a lot by gut and just by asking questions and certain questions, asking people, "how would you explain this design you're showing me there?" And learning from that process how they communicate, how they are able to express themselves.
Lynda: What kind of technologies do you mostly use in the shop, like what is the standard tool set? Dale Herigstad: For a design you mean? Ah, yeah. Well, certainly the Adobe Suite, the Creative Suite, is actually an essential thing, your basic Illustrator, Photoshop. But the things that we move into here in this shop in particular are in animation as well, because the work that we do is what I call rich media. Whether it is television work, trying to look like broadcast, and it moves, it's dimensional or even applying Flash and other things to web design that we're doing, whether it's banner ads or other kinds of new campaigns or parts of websites, it's the animation, how it moves, all of those things.
There's just kind of two levels of design that are important to me in that process. One of them is the actual execution. For example, if some of the website is going to be done in Flash, then you may want to use Flash for our testing and other things we are doing and sketching and kind of arriving at that, a rough design process. But in some cases as we're designing for something new like first surface or for some other new applications, we may not want to get entangled in the depths of that technology to make the tests. So, what are the other appropriate kind of tools? There is a whole selection of those available, whether that's Flash or it's After Effects or it's something else, just make it move and look at it.
Lynda: Or a 3D software. I see a lot of 3D software. Dale Herigstad: Yeah, exactly. There is such a tendency as a designer and I have the same thing. If I sit down and when I come up with-- at the very beginning, I want to really see, ten, twelve, new ideas. I will get stuck on the first one and make it look really nice. So I'll put more and more layers and stick in Photoshop. So it's trying to restrain that process in sketch, so you really get that breadth of exploration early on. So sketching and that. And so what are the tools to do that? In Motion, what are the Motion tools? I am using Keynote sometimes to do that, which is just the motion capability just in Keynote.
So what are the simple tools to arrive at simple ideas pretty quickly? Lynda: Has there been a pivotal technology in your opinion in the last couple of years or has there been a series of pivotal technologies that have impacted the kind of work that you can do? Dale Herigstad: There have been several. I think for me, one that I have particularly enjoyed is from Microsoft, the Media Center, the Vista Media Center platform. That one is because my goal of doing interactive television is to make it look like TV and you can really get good, solid animations that have ease ins and ease outs and multiple layers and I do like that platform. I like the game platform because it has, of course, good graphics capabilities.
In terms of new technologies that are out there, I think things like what's happening on the iPhone and surface and exploring gesture. I mean that new frontier of what gesture means is so... I remember the first time. I had this example, my dad is 85 and completely nontechnical and I showed him a iPhone. I showed him just a picture. I mean, moved from one picture to another. I did that and I said, put your fingers and just do this. The first time he did it, he kind of got a smile on his face. So just the sense of gesture, what that means and that's new to the audience.
Lynda: Yeah, yeah. It seems like the transformation in the music industry has happened a lot quicker than the transformation in the video industry. I think, today, we finally surpassed -- digital downloads have surpassed buying physical product in the music space. That hasn't quite yet happened in the video space. Why do you think that is and what do you think will happen to propel that to happen further? Dale Herigstad: For me it's as simple as the difference between audio data and video data. There is more data. But it's interesting to look at the model where and I guess in progression from happening first in radio and then going to TV for video, for example, and we have seen the model of radio, radio and television where sometime ago radio existed first in a larger scale and that moved to watching the visual with television.
Those two memes are different. They are different in how we consume them, but watching that transition of how you interface with that or in our world of interface, for example, and access, like downloading. You see the models in a different way in audio and it is a precursor to what's going to happen in video. Lynda: Well, I think in those examples of both radio and television, it really was sort of before the age of choice, which I think we're in now, which is where having something on demand exactly what you want at that exact moment, as little or as much of it as you want, is more the trend and that's really what has been facilitated with digital music. I think we are still kind of searching for what the exact format will be in the video landscape and a lot of the kind of the work that you are doing is exploring that.
Dale Herigstad: I look at from the standpoint of, if you attach the meaning of the television to video, the television experience is so fascinating to me because it's a deep, deep experience, a medium in our current culture. I mean with our generation growing up. It's all around television and whether we ignore it, it's in the background, or whether it's on our TV shows, whether it affected our lives by half- hour segments or whatever, however you define it.
That television experience, which wants to be kind of simpler and easier and not as deep as maybe the web experience, so what is that in the interactive world? That's the way I think about it. So video, I associate with sort of that TV experience. Lynda: I think we're starting to see hybrids of that experience as well, which have been successful, but I am sure these are just the early primitive days of, you know, what's to come.
Dale Herigstad: Yeah. Well, an example I think of what to an extent what we were talking about is one of the concepts that we're playing with here at Schematic right now, which is really interesting. We use the term Dynamic Assemblage. What that means is that in an on-demand world, which today is kind of disruptive. I mean you click this thing and then you look at it and you click on other thing and you watch it. So it's kind of back and forth and back and forth, kind of rather disruptive. It's not like the kind of pure TV experience, which just has its flow, just kind of runs. Not only is it kind of smooth and transitional, also if you look at the whole way television is made, the television networks when they glue that linear experience together, it seamlessly goes from a brand.
Here's the ABC logo that blends into a TV spot and is carefully crafted to a promo and then it goes to a little mini identity and then the star walks by and then it goes like in the credits and then it goes to the next title. Lynda: And everything has been architected. Dale Herigstad: Yes, architected. So Dynamic Assemblage is just saying that how can you take those parts and kind of seamlessly apply them now to on demand? This is all kind of a flow that you just -- so all that on demand stuff you sort of steer it, but it sort of makes this dynamic channel. I think that's an interesting idea that may be the way. It might just be that it's too much work to do it the way it is now, like get this thing, watch it, get another thing and watch it. So how do you make a flow out of that? Lynda: Yeah. Well, I am glad there is Schematic to figure this all out for us.
Dale Herigstad: Oh, yes. Lynda: It must be a lot of fun. Are you having fun? Dale Herigstad: I am having complete fun. This is the most fun I've had. I feel like it's rewarding to think that like in my career of all the things that I've done, like illustration and painting and then maybe graphic design and then motion design, all these parts and 3D design or CGI, that all those parts are coming together now in what's blooming to be this new digital age. It's a total playground out there and everyone is trying to figure everything out.
Nobody knows anything anymore. Lynda: Which is great fun! Dale Herigstad: That's right! Lynda: Well, thank you so much for showing your enthusiasm and passion for this field and the work you are doing is amazing. We feel very honored that you've shared so much with this. Thank you! Dale Herigstad: I had great fun. Thanks very much!
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