.
For me, websites will rapidly start looking like interactive TV programs. Video/animated content will have taken over from today’s photo/text formula.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Hello!

I have been creative director at BETC DIGITAL for 4 years. I try to treat this role like that of a lead AD, still contributing as a graphic designer and motion designer on projects and getting heavily involved in the production and the choice of providers.

After studying visual communications, I got to the point around 12 years ago where interactive communication was exploding. Thanks to my CW accomplice Ivan Beczkowski, I quickly became specialised in interactive advertising (the banners) and inevitably gravitated towards event sites.

What do you do for inspiration?

I’m really inspired by film and video games (both the images and their production), more than the purely digital world.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Watch out, these are very cliché: my big interactive moments would have to be Get the glass and CokeZeroGame by NorthKingdom. I’d also mention http://www.frenchclickclub.com/, which references the best French web-based creative advertising.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Tower of Terror without a doubt. We put it together with a very small team, putting the emphasis on versatility. The atmosphere of the subject, the excellence of the illustrators, the magic of the animation left us with magical memories, almost overshadowing the sleepless nights we had getting it ready to go online in time...

How many hours do you work each week?

Before I had children, more than 70. Since then, I try to work less than 50. I am passionate about my work, but it pales in insignificance next to my kids.

How do you relax or unwind?

Sorry, another very cliché answer: with my family, playing sports and playing computer games (but do they really relax me?).

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

I’d definitely have my own restaurant!

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

The most enjoyable part is often the most difficult, it changes all the time for me! Yesterday, it was to produce visuals. Today it’s finding the ideal production solutions for a project to take off.

By combining production and creation, it’s harder to get stuck because you can move each of the parts so that it doesn't constrain the other

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

4 months on Tower of Terror and some weekends with project managers and especially Silvere, the developer / motion designer.

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

2 projects were particularly important. To do www.disneytowerofterror.com and jetueunami.com, we had to organize ourselves like a real studio, forcing us to build the whole site in house (creation / motion / development), to get the maximum involvement from everyone and to generate the magic of exchanges and versatility. This kind of organization is very hard to implement in a French advertising agency where the policy is to outsource production. Since these two major projects, we now focus on creating “HOME MADE™” projects, which we are most proud of course.

What software could you not live without?

My 3 programs are Photoshop, After Effects and Flash, one for the creation of images and the other two for animation: the two essential ingredients for an interactive designer.

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

With Ivan I lead a small team of about 17 people within a large agency with more than 700 staff. As for us, we generally work on a dozen or so projects simultaneously, websites and banners.

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

I started my career as a 3D animator. 3D software and techniques continue to blow me away.

Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

I love Swedish production: NorthKingdom, FI or B-reel.

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

The spectacle that we can now bring to the web makes into a mass media that can be measured in millions of viewers.

Who is your target audience?

The general public only.

What area of web design lacks the most?

I don’t see enough food sites that are graphically appealing and mouth-watering.

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

The two sites I mentioned before, Get the Glass and CokeZeroGame, which push the web towards video games, without suffering from technical limitations. To talk about our own work, we are really proud of www.jetueunami.com which brings the user into a narrative by integrating his face into a movie.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Yes, completely. It was a goal for several years, setting up a studio within an advertising agency and proving, thanks to the FWAs, that you can integrate design and production.

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

I don’t really feel any difficulties; we have some customers like 13ème Rue or CANAL+ that dare to take risks with creations that are a little transgressive.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

My first site was done in 1998, it was my portfolio featuring my 3D work. It was an HTML frameset with over 16 frames!

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

Not yet! But there is a project that has been in my head for a long time. An illustrated book for children.

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?

Relaxing! Taking a step back... For me, the best ideas come about on their own, rather than after a brainstorming session.

What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?

Try our www.ilsdebarquent.com for Disneylandparis!

Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?

Yes! We made e-ads for Orange 4 years ago featuring little monsters. This same flash animation was exported as is for TV!

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?

One idea can be rolled out through several media, we have already had ideas that were not strictly web...

We delegate these projects quickly to other creatives because the only thing that we really master is the web.

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

For me, websites will rapidly start looking like interactive TV programs. Video/animated content will have taken over from today’s photo/text formula.

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

As I explained earlier, I’m most proud of those that took the longest to make and which were the most difficult. Tower of Terror, our first FWA, is the one which I am most proud of today.

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

We are always short of time for getting a project exactly to where we want it. And even if we think we can do it, with the evolution in design and technology, they get old very quickly. So, most of our projects could all be much improved.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I hope so! It started out as a little vector animation software. Creatives developed it and pushed the publishers to make it the reference that it has become. No other piece of software has made us all dream so much.

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

It’s very difficult indeed to enter the world of graphics without any training. For our recruitment, we look for people with both design and development training (working on joint projects), because that is exactly the alchemy that we create in our team.

If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

If it’s for a graphic designer, work with a developer and vice versa. One brings his artistic culture, and the other his logic and rigor. That’s how the magic happens.

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

I don’t see any problems because the profiles of “web designers” are very different and they can be easily differentiated by looking at their portfolios: graphic-oriented print (fonts and static images), motion designer, interface designer...

How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?

Thanks in particular to FWA, I can get a grip on all the possibilities offered by this incredible piece of software. But I rely completely on our team of developers to see if our ideas are realistic in terms of timing and if it is possible to do better!

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Let’s be quick and realistic: an electric car.

(like Peugeot BB1)

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

We are a special case, we developed our activities to meet the needs of the clients of an agency that had already existed for over 10 years.

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

Is this a question designed to make me plug the FWAs? We have to always be up to date, keep abreast of new designs and innovative technology.

What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

Sweden!

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

The job of media director for me is very close to that of a film director, telling a story, orchestrating the work of many different people with very different talents to make... a movie!

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

Web within ad agencies is undergoing a revolution: our projects are evolving more and more, our studio logic and this dual role of creative and director will necessarily have to be split. If I had to choose I would go with director.

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

The web just keeps on evolving, I'd stop everything if that wasn’t the case!

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

I have simple pleasures, a good meal in a restaurant with my family

What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

Carhartt™ exclusively.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Every night after leaving the agency and there are still some people on the team there: “Remember! You're the best!”

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

The pleasure is all mine, Rob, and thank you for these amazing tools that you have created.


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