.

One of our recent campaigns was streaming a music artist for 5 weeks, and powering his house by people's Tweets. I wonder where that live interaction will end up in a few years time?

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I am the Creative Director and CEO of POWSTER. I specialise in the interactive side of the creative, but help out in all areas. I’m 28 and originally from Bournemouth where I started out by making interactive posters for nightclubs.

Running POWSTER means I get to work and collaborate with some of the biggest entertainment brands in the world developing web apps, games and making interactive music videos and TV adverts.

Our showtimes platform has really taken off after launching in January, with many of the largest movie studios now using it to market their movies. 

What makes us different, is we are always looking to innovate and create new things, not find a formula for profit or only to work with big money clients.

We are brought in to come up with the interesting and engaging part of campaigns, and to come up with the ‘big idea’.

I just realised I quickly switched to talking about POWSTER and saying ‘we’ a lot, I think it’s better talking about the team!

question What do you do for inspiration?

Keeping a close eye on what other creative studios are doing always helps, although the best inspiration comes from finding our unique talents, and then mashing them together to create new things or discover what new innovations we can explore.

The best clients are the ones that feed the inspiration or get us excited around the project. Often this involves working closely with the music artist, or working with the people who cut the trailers for the movies. Watching the movie while it’s still greenscreened or listening to the music before it’s finished often helps get the team hyped and feel part of the process.

Music has huge advantages in that it doesn't have a visual already created, so we have much more free reign when deciding a treatment for the creative. Often just listening to the music, or watching the movie give the best inspiration.

Other than that, from a more technical perspective, working closely with the social networks themselves and keeping on the pulse of new features being released help us to try to be first in taking advantage of the new things possible.

question How do you relax or unwind?

I come from a gaming background, formally playing Unreal Tournament 1999 and organising clanbase cups and mirc chat channels. We all still dabble in gaming and often have gaming events at the studio where we all have some drinks unwind and play games. It’s not as hardcore gaming as it used to be, but it’s still as fun as ever.

We also have office parties, go on outtings, simply hang out at the studio after work or go to gigs. We’re a bunch of friends really.

Personally I’m a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and enjoy chess, I think both of these go a long way in helping run a business.

question What software could you not live without?

The Adobe suite is the stand-out software, but Google apps has helped the company hugely also. Is that cheating listing two suites of software instead of one in particular?

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

We are specialist team, and don't have the scale of the huge agencies. It means we focus and collaborate project by project. We'll often have 2 or 3 on at once, some overlap and a few background projects which continue always alongside.

The advantage is it's not so much juggling but focus and helps us to ensure we get the most out of each thing we launch. It also means we don't have a huge approval chain on our side. We’re trying to go down this ethos even further, and make sure it’s bigger and fewer projects to really find our maximum potential in what we’re creating.

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

Adobe Edge Inspect was pretty impressive, perhaps partly due to the device wall in their demo, definitely need to get that set up here.

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?

The Plan B #TagLondon campaign was a standout for this. Jack Melhuish is probably one of the most switched on digital marketers we’ve worked with when it comes combining digital with the real world, and when we presented the concept of graffiting up Tweets onto buildings using projection mapping it was all go.

Locking yourself to digital hinders the possibilities, and ties down the tangible real world connection to people. I think as digital integrates more and more with peoples lives there will be less of a disconnect and the two will go hand in hand when coming up with ideas.

Digital was new, now it’s grown. Innovating before was simply doing something new digitally, as it grows it will be connecting real world activities with digital which open up new possibilities.

One of our recent campaigns was streaming a music artist for 5 weeks, and powering his house by people's Tweets. I wonder where that live interaction will end up in a few years time?

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

www.reasontodie.co.uk is definitely what I’m most proud of us making. We invented the new technique for making video interactive in this way. It’s truly a combination of the teams talents, and the end result is extremely effective.

We have big plans and ideas for the next version of this, with some really groundbreaking effects to leverage it.

Being able to switch between 16 video feeds instantly and keep them in sync opens a whole world of possibilities to what can be done with video. These are exciting times!

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?

Personally I did Mulimedia at College, then studied a year of Game Design, then did two years of Digital Media. The qualifications were more like getting ‘achievements’ than of any actual use in getting clients. The real value of the education came from the time it gave me to improve my skills on a personal level. It also gave me enough time to build a client base, and start working toward a freelance career that would later turn into POWSTER.

Some of the biggest lessons I learnt were from amazing teachers, it’s quite potluck to get someone teach you who is going to really push you and make you challenge yourself in everything you do. I was lucky to have at least one lecturer at a time be that person all the way through education.

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

The biggest problem when looking for someone, was the lack of visionaries. It appears that there’s plenty of people that know how to ‘do’ but not how to ‘create’. We really need people in the team who think big, and are looking to innovate and try new things. It’s not enough to simply know how to do things, but also know how to use the skills in unusual or sideways ways to create things which haven’t been done before.

The level needed is high. The last person hired, Carl, was an engineer in Afghanistan creating wind turbines before he turned to Front-End development. That kind of unusual skillset is exactly what we need. Since working with us he’s hooked up motors to Twitter and powered real world objects from raspberry Pi’s. We’re all really excited to see what else we can make. 

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

At first the best way of getting initial clients was to make sure the work was solid and stand-out. By far the biggest exposure was launching an award winning piece of work. The exposure got the music industry talking about us internally and lots of recommendations and briefs flooded in.

There’s a high turnover of staff in the music industry, and working with a large set of Digital Marketers meant that when they went on to work at other companies, we got brought in again. I guess we have the high pressure and stress of trying to market music to thank for our contacts in the movie and games industry.

We’ve actually done very little outward promotion, it’s all word of mouth and hopefully being badasses at what we do.

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

We want to work more closely with the talented people out there. We want to collaborate more with the talent of the people we work with. E.g. working WITH a music artist rather than creating something FOR them. We also want to make our own content and our own videos / interactive pieces, just for the fun of it.

For me, I’m going to see where our Showtimes platform takes us, and alongside that see how far we can push exciting innovation projects which use all our skills. I’m sometimes told I need to start being more outwardly outgoing about promoting what we do to both our clients and the public, and spend less time developing / getting involved in the actual build and creative process. I’m not sure I agree, but I might try being more CEO-like from time to time and see what happens.

question It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you! We have recently gone from being a ‘behind the curtain’ studio to getting more involved with the community, please do follow us and let us know what you think of what we’re putting out there! You’ll be the very first to see the new content we put out.


Links

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Me at lake Bled last week while on Holiday. We all need holidays.
Me at lake Bled last week while on Holiday. We all need holidays.

POWSTER Showreel

The showtimes platform has helped sell movie tickets for many of the big blockbusters since January.
The showtimes platform has helped sell movie tickets for many of the big blockbusters since January.

Drew with his hand crafted ident with help from Amy Harris.
Drew with his hand crafted ident with help from Amy Harris.

Behind the Scenes at the Plan B #TAGLONDON shoot.
Behind the Scenes at the Plan B #TAGLONDON shoot.

The jeep had a GoPro camera and a livestream box attached. When people tweeted, it drove forward.
The jeep had a GoPro camera and a livestream box attached. When people tweeted, it drove forward.

Some behind the scenes Reason To Die pictures.
Some behind the scenes Reason To Die pictures.

James at the Drum Design Awards.
James at the Drum Design Awards.

Tim at the Fresh Awards.
Tim at the Fresh Awards.

The team with our first FWA award.
The team with our first FWA award.

The team for the Paper Crows shoot.
The team for the Paper Crows shoot.

Our studio.
Our studio.

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