It is interesting how in the flash days there was a lot of experiential work on the web. Then with html5 so many websites focused on usability and clarity, which was a refreshing process. However, now that we’ve reached a certain level of usability, people are almost rediscovering what people explored with flash a couple of years back: Motion, fluidity, how things feel. I think we’ll see a lot more of that.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourselves

RT: Richard The, Creative Lead, Google Creative Lab.

PS  Philip Stockton, Filmmaker

question If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

PS: Anything in the natural world... Studying albatrosses maybe?

RT: I would work on the street. Or wherever else you can find regular people.

question There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?

PS: Not everyone’s always sitting on their desktop machine getting ready to see a website. It seems like most of the time people see a link to something, they will be on mobile. I think being realistic with how people encounter content these days dictates its format. With spacecraftforall.com, the desktop version was immersive, but we made sure there was a mobile version that was true to the experience. It doesn’t mean that everything on the web needs to be simple and non-experiential, but making sure anyone can see it is a must.

RT: It’s interesting how there are so few flash websites these days. However, many of those sites did set the bar for what highly interactive web experiences can be, so in a way we lost something there that we’re only slowly getting back with web technologies like webgl, canvas etc. There is certainly space for these kind of experiences and this site certainly builds upon that legacy.

question What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

RT: a full bike tune up. Way too late in the year considering it’s end of August.

PS: a Project turntable for my mom.

question How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

The technical realization was mostly done by the tech wizards over at Active Theory so you might want to talk to them about that. But we did learn that it’s possible to handle full video and realtime 3D graphics within one experience in webgl/three.js.

Further, with this project we explored combining interactivity within a linear storytelling format and the other way around. We defined for ourselves that if you can pre-render the graphics then we weren’t doing anything new. We think this kind of stuff has a lot of potential and we’ll see more along those lines in the future.

question The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

It seems one would almost have to restate the question. In a way today everything and everyone is on the web, not just web designers. We were excited about the real people behind this project, and the real satellite out there in space. But at the same time the entire community around this project did everything on the web, if it’s Keith Cowing blogging about their process or their crowdfunding campaign or Balint using open source tools like Software Defined Radio and posting his code on github.

question How do you relax or unwind?

RT: Russian Turkish Baths.

PS: Piano.

question What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

RT: For me, the favourite part of my work is also the hardest part. That is, to constantly challenge myself to do something new, to reinvent what I do, to reinvent who I am as a designer. Sometimes that is incredibly hard, but most of the time that is what excites me every morning.

I feel like I’m a very collaborative person, so I think a lot of the times when I’m stuck the solution is talking to people around me that I appreciate creatively, such as this guy.

PS: Right back at you. The story we captured for spacecraftforall.com is interesting on its own, but I think it only became something new with how it’s being presented. I think my favorite part was working with RT and the team on blending those elements of interactivity and webgl with video.

For me, filming and capturing the elements of a story is the hardest part. It’s really fun, but at the same time you are constantly questioning in your head if you have what you want, and at the same time running out of time to get it on set.

When one is stuck, go for a walk.

question In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

We’re incredibly impressed by what people are doing with three.js and webgl. I’m specifically excited about what will happen when Unity can port to webgl. The other thing that has been exciting for me for a while are custom tools. It seems it is easier and easier to create tools to help within the creative process of a project. For example for this project, activetheory built a custom sequencing tool to sync the realtime graphics with specific frames in the video. That was incredibly useful.

question Who is your target audience?

Developers. Broader audience interested in the project. Citizen scientists that are interested in getting access to the data.

question What area of web design lacks the most?

It is interesting how in the flash days there was a lot of experiential work on the web. Then with html5 so many websites focused on usability and clarity, which was a refreshing process. However, now that we’ve reached a certain level of usability, people are almost rediscovering what people explored with flash a couple of years back: Motion, fluidity, how things feel. I think we’ll see a lot more of that.

question What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

RT: A spacecraft.

PS: Something with magnetic levitation

question What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

PS: Being able to create things for a living.

RT: That’s a good one! I guess I can only agree with that, spending the majority of my life working on stuff that I’m really excited about, day in day out.

question What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

RT: Love this question. It was this amazing shape tween. It had roughly 100 queue points and thousands of keyframes.

PS: During school I spent a week or so on this 2d layered city. It’s all just timeline animation:

question What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

You never know, you know?

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

RT: I do think so, and I’ve seen some incredible examples of that. For me personally, school was an incredibly useful and enriching experience and I build upon what I’ve learned and worked on. It’s just great to have a couple of years of your life only dedicated to creative pursuits, without having to make any money.

PS: I think that with school, you are essentially paying for time. Time to experiment, make friends, party, whatever it is that you choose to do there. The tools and programs you are paying to learn about, you could learn for free on the web…. But, having those years to build your craft outside of a commercial environment and at the same time have a schedule and guidance, it’s a unique experience.

question If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

RT: My mother is a science teacher, so growing up I was always surrounded by all kinds of interesting stuff—models of the human body, diagrams about the weather, videos about photosynthesis, you name it. She was always on the hunt for the perfect way to better explain a topic and to pique her students’ interest in the classroom. These models for explaining and questioning the world had no small influence on my life, and are the reason why I became a designer.

PS:  I remember really liking the opening title sequence to To Kill a Mockingbird. I think we were watching it in 7th grade for some reason. I just paid attention to it more than anything i’d seen. Just seeing type mixed with film in this beautiful way, it made me want to see more things like it.


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