.

Today many interactive developers, including myself, are in a transition period - moving away from Flash towards web standards. In a similar way, it's an exciting moment of discovery and learning new techniques.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I have more than 10 years of experience in interactive design and development. I like to work with code, create animations and interactive pieces that are pleasant to look at and fun to play with. Flash used to be my weapon of choice, but nowadays I spend most of my time tinkering with Javascript and web standards. I live in Los Angeles and serve as Technical Director at Tool of North America.

question How many hours do you work each week?

I work around 40-45 hours in the office, sometimes I work from home in the evening.

question How do you relax or unwind?

Since I moved to LA I started to spend a lot of time outdoors. Jogging, biking and skateboarding help me clear my mind.

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

I don't know. I'm sure I'd find something interesting, but I don't need to think about it, at least for now.

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?

I like solving problems, especially if there is any math involved. The hardest part? Browsers bugs and inconsistencies can be hard to fix or patch and they sure are frustrating, because fixing cross-browser issues always feels unproductive.

When I'm stuck on something the best thing to do is to turn off the computer and go for a walk. It's funny how the solution to the problem comes almost immediately when I find myself away from the keyboard.

question What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

4AM I think, but it is never a good idea to stay that late. My theory is that coding after 10PM generates more bugs than it solves problems.

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

Starting a blog. It was 5 years ago and I was working at F-i. They had their own blog back then, called Think Swedish (if I remember correctly) and everyone was given the chance to contribute by writing an article. I wrote a short post featuring some Flash tips and a few weeks later I've seen it become quite popular, people even translated it to other languages. Then I decided to start my own blog and publish some artices and experiments. It was a great experience and eventually led me to work on some high profile projects with companies from around the world, speak at conferences and become part of the worldwide community.

question What software could you not live without?

For coding my weapon of choice is WebStorm - it's a terrific editor that makes a coder's life so much easier! Whenever I have to do some animations or create a 3D model, I choose After Effects and Cinema4D. I'm a big fan of Unity3D and even though I rarely work on games, I still find ways to use it in my everyday work.

question What area of web design lacks the most?

Workflow. The interactive industry is full of super-talented individuals that are great in their respective fields - coders write great code, designers create beautiful visuals and animators make great motion. But everyone seems to be using their own set of tools. We need workflows that will allow us to seamlessly blend design, video, 3D animation and interactivity without having to reinvent the wheel on each project. I think there is a lot to learn from the gaming industry in this respect.

question Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

It sure did! Participating in projects that won an FWA is the best way to prove your abilities and talent. I was freelancing for several years and I worked for clients around the world. People that hired have never seen me in person, and the FWA badge was often the best way to prove my experience and reliability. When we hire people at Tool, those who worked on projects that received FWAs have a much bigger chance of getting the job!

question Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

Yes. I try to do many different things to get inspired and put myself in the right mood. It can be with simple things, like going for a walk. I try to keep up with good museum exhibits around the town and I go out to see a movie once in a while. Lately I have been spending quite a lot of time playing games. My two recent favorites are Journey and Far Cry 3, which are both amazing and inspiring for anybody who works in the interactive industry.

question Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I really hope WebGL will become a widely adopted standard and we will be able to use it for interactive projects on a much large scale than now. It is a whole new world of possibilities, a whole new skillset to be learned, but the final effect can be amazing! I was lucky enough to be part of the team working on “ROME 3 Dreams of Black” and experience this kind of production first-hand.

question Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

This was a great year for Tool. We produced many great projects that have been very well received.

Two of them that I'm particularly proud of are 'Clouds Over Cuba' (http://cloudsovercuba.com/) - an interactive documentary about the Cuban Missile Crisis and 'JAM with Chrome' (http://www.jamwithchrome.com/) - a web application that allows people to play on a variety of instruments with their friends on-line. Both of these projects got an FWA Site of the Month, but for me, before anything else, they were a great team-building experience and a way to push technology forward.

Our latest child is an interactive experience called 'My Life in 20 Years' (http://www.mylifein20years.com/). With this project we tried to push the limits by creating a futuristic 3D interface executed entirely in HTML5 (and a hint of WebGL). I love how this project came out. I hope we will follow this path in 2013!

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

I think the toughest project I did was a racing game I developed a few years ago. The reason why it was so difficult was that I had to put together a whole 3D game, starting with modeling the scenery and the cars, ending with coding all the physics and the game play. And I had very little experience with any of these things. A week into the project, I was very close to call the client and say that it can't be done :) but then somehow things started to get together and I was very pleased with the final result. It was part of a campaign, so the site is no longer online, but you can still see it here: http://www.everyday3d.com/works/scion/.

After that, I worked on projects that were technically much more challenging but probably thanks to that experience, nothing felt as challening as this project.

question Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I think not. A big majority of clients do not want Flash anymore and HTML5 has grown into a powerful platform pushing Flash out. Probably the best thing to do is to move on and embrace the change.

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

Everything I know about interactive I learned from my colleagues at work, from books and on-line, so I think it is possible to get into the field without educational background. But finishing a good school goes along way and I often wish I had that experience. I worked with lots of developers and designers who went to Hyperisland or RIT. All of them were really well prepared for their job and many of them are now doing great careers.

question What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

In California they started to introduce self driving cars. It sounds very exciting to me, especially if you need to move around LA.

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

During the Flash days, I spent most of my time experimenting with 3D. There was a great community around this topic with projects like Papervision3D and Away3D. Every week someone would post a new experiment featuring something that has never been done before. This was both inspiring and motivating.

Today many interactive developers, including myself, are in a transition period - moving away from Flash towards web standards. In a similar way, it's an exciting moment of discovery and learning new techniques.

So my advice for newbies would be to never stop exploring and constantly experiment with new stuff, whether it’s a new tool, a new programing language or just a different way of doing things!

question How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

Twitter and Google Reader are great tools to check what's new and cool, while Github  and Codepen are great to check how the cool things can be done.

question There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I hope that one day I can work on a project that combines film, game and web development to tell a great story.

question What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

Math and physics are always on top of my list of things to learn. I didn’t study math or computer science in college, so I have to learn these things now. There’s a lot to material to absorb, so it's sort of an ongoing challenge. Recently I finally started to get a grip on calculus! I also learned some Python programming and I like to tinker with Cinema4D and After Effects to teach myself new tricks.

question It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thanks a lot Rob, the pleasure was all mine!


Links

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Glass shader - a WebGL experiment
Glass shader - a WebGL experiment

A WebGL scene demo
A WebGL scene demo

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