In ten years, maybe we’ll all download Internet through wireless interfaces implanted in our brains, the only thing we can know for sure is that we’ll probably be part of it, producing cool content.
Please give us a brief bio of yourselves.
We met around year 2000 through the early flash game success Banja (by TEAMcHmAn) and its community of players. 16ames was founder of kungfuyoga agency in 2001 (2 SOTD in 2008). Ulu joined him by 2003. Fumanchu arrived in 2005, after TEAMcHmAn’s liquidation.
In 2010, Grsmto, a (young) former Banja player (he was 12 at the time), joined us as an intern focusing on HTML/JS stuff.
legend : AD = Adrien Denat/Grsmto, our intern.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
In 2010 we participate to a kind of Hackathon - The Adobe Air Challenge - http://www.adobeairchallenge.com/. There we met Axel Corjon / Jocker from Creaktif. At the end, we were happy, but not satisfied. So we decided to organize our own event with our new mate from Creaktif. Something small : 5 to 10 friends in a garage, creating something in limited time while listening to music, drinking beers and trolling the Internet.
How many hours do you work each week?
You don’t want to know...
How do you relax or unwind?
Boardgames, drinking, and generally sitting at parisian cafe terraces
What software could you not live without?
IQ12 : Definitely FlashDevelop ( http://www.flashdevelop.org/ ). As we mostly come from a developer background, it’s nice to have a tool that is a free, open-source, uncluttered and efficient solution for all our coding needs in AS3.
AD : As html5 technologies and softwares are evolving very quickly, we need to change and try new things quite often. Actually it’s more a question of "how to know if there is a new software/plugin/framework ?". And, "Wich one should I use ?".
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
As we're a very small team, we try to not have more than 3 projects at a time. What's usually happening is that we'll have one project in pre-production and another in production, and maybe some late maintenance on a older project.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
The past year has mostly been about the various 3d engines for Flash. We tried most of them and played quite a bit with all the new possibilities offered.
Now we’re trying to see what those new technologies can do regarding navigation/user interface with sites like creaktif.com.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
While working in our previous company, we won 2 SOTD FWA - http://www.thefwa.com/site/tbwa-compact and http://www.thefwa.com/site/grand-palais-virtual-tour. At the time, we were in disagreement with other people in the company over the direction the company was heading. Some wanted to follow more of an agency model with mostly projects manager and a small production team, we wanted to function more like a studio, with a team of creative people focusing on few projects and quality over quantity. We wanted to promote the talent and creativity involved in the production of interactive websites and we had trouble expressing ourselves in that company.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
As iq12, our first site was the drooltoy and it’s still online.
Sure we do. At least we try to. Grsmto is an electronic music specialist and blogger, Ulu plays board and video games, Fumanchu goes to every rock fest he can and 16ames is a dad.
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?IQ12 : We’re a studio founded on its expertise in digital solution so we tend to mostly focus on that and our clients know this and call us for it.
With mobile platforms, the web is everywhere, all the time and that gives us plenty of thinking to do in terms of what we can do with what we know.
AD : On the contrary, with this website (creaktif.com) we deal with different devices and experiences for each one. We think that the web can propose proper users experiences for each devices for the same website. Mobile devices are a new way to experiment and propose smooth navigation like we did on the mobile version of creaktif.com .
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
IQ12 : Hard to say, as traditional websites are fading out, or at least shifting in focus with the emergence of social media and mobile platforms. 10 years of technological progress can radically change the format. So in ten years, maybe we’ll all download Internet through wireless interfaces implanted in our brains, the only thing we can know for sure is that we’ll probably be part of it, producing cool content.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
When we founded the company, we had few clients and even less budget. When talking about creating our website, we didn’t want to spend too much time on it because we needed to concentrate on clients projects to bankroll the studio. So we decided to develop a small interactive toy that would demonstrate some of our skills. We ended up with the DroolToy (http://iq12.com/iq12/drooltoy/), a full 3D real-time multiplayer drawing experience where the users control our logo and make it “roll” to stamp the ground with different patterns.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
We had the occasion of tackling a unique challenge this year. We’ve done online TV game ports in the past -all real-time multiplayer- and that was already quite hard work. When our client approached us this year to launch a new version we pushed for a Stage3D version and got it.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
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?
Flash is already suffering, at least in advertisement. Budgets that could be yesterday used to create high impact conceptual websites are reduced and redirected to social marketing. We feel there's something wrong when the success of a campaign is rated on the number of Facebook "likes" it got.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
AD : As part of the last set of graduated students from Gobelins School (Multimedia school in Paris), I think that it can accelerate very much the learning of development languages and good practices. But I'm pretty sure you can learn by yourself without doing any formation. It should be particularly difficult at the beginning : you need to learn how to find informations and how to understand it.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
As an independent aiming for a FWA, the hard truth from experience is: don’t wait for agencies to throw you a great project and not killing its potential in the process. But they’re sometimes clients (not agencies) giving you carte-blanche or self produced projects. These projects should be the ones you take the most pleasure producing and this will show.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
10 years ago everybody still opened Flash Pro as a curiosity to code an onrelease method or two and some were even calling themselves Flash developers. This was great: it didn’t produce great developers in the long term but gave them a great perspective on the whole range of web design. It has now shifted to the HTML/JS technologies but I hope it stays the same. People with curiosity get their hands in a bit of everything and they’re usually the ones with talent.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
Twitter is great and simple tool to do the job. We subscribe to a dozen different experts, be it long time flash developers or Adobe Flash evangelists. People like @unit01, @inspirit or @nicoptere. Plus we meet and chat with our local flash producers community on a regular basis, which is easy since Paris is quite small and the studio are concentrated on a few areas.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?A good portfolio (with FWA winners in it) showing that we could do proper SEO and dynamic content in Flash demonstrated that flash was more than what most of our clients thought of it.
Our strong focus on quality and new technologies probably closed us some doors, but opened others. We refused banners or popup ads, to concentrate on making cool innovative websites. That approach allowed us to get more clients interested in making new stuffs and trying things out.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Well, the "how" is simple : practice, and more than 10 years of experience in Flash. If we had one advice to Flash beginners, it would be to not hesitate getting out of one’s comfort zone : Flash can do many things, there’s always something new to learn. You won’t progress if you keep using the same formula everytime.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?IQ12 : Well, thefwa.com is always good for inspiration of course. These days, Twitter is a must, as long as you don’t limit yourself to “trend setters” ( that can quickly devolve in circle-jerking ). And of course, again, having a drink with people from the flash community is always a good time to learn a new thing or two.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
We met because we played Banja. We’re still using our nicknames to talk to each others. Banja was a game like no others with its focus on ecology and non-violent solutions.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
The future is quite uncertain. With the flash platform evolving, we might try to shift the activity from advertisement to game design/production, but we're still looking for a viable business model that would suit us. Ask us again next year :)
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
We're really interested in game design. We made some advertgames, we even worked a few times on real video games for Ubisoft, but we never had the opportunity to really get something going on the self-produced side. That's definitely the next challenge if we decide to go that way.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
One bottle of Santenay 1er Cru 2009
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
We're not label people, at all. We're nerds. Cool parisians nerds sure, but nerds still.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
“Monde de merde”, as said by George Abitbol
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thanks, and keep up the good work on this fantastic website, the reference in webdesign for some years now.