While new technologies constantly appear on the web and are very stimulating, they are quickly expended. I want to develop a service that enables communication with users on a long-term basis.
SHIFTBRAIN Inc. (Tokyo, Japan )
Takuma Kato (CEO/Creative Director)
Hiroaki Yasutomo (CTO/Technical Director)
Sunao Nakamura (Director)
Keitaro Suzuki (Designer)
Masahito Okumura (Programmer)
Wongeun Heo (Programmer)
What do you do for inspiration?
(Suzuki) Besides the WEB, I try to stay in touch with visual expressions such as design in a wide variety of fields, films, and art.
I place sites that I find interesting into Google Reader so I can look at them quickly any time. From among those, I collect visuals that I like in tumblr.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
(Kato) Through creativity, I want to shift the thought processes of the people around the world toward happiness.
How many hours do you work each week?
(Yasutomo) 50~160 hours.
How do you relax or unwind?
(Okumura) Cigarette and sleep.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
(Okumura) Criativity, Lack of time and Cigarette.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
(Kato) “Play station Gran Turismo 5” working with Dentsu. This project made us reaffirm our original role of "creating effective advertising."
What software could you not live without?
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
(Kato) Around 4 ~ 5 projects.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
(Yasutomo) Sublime Text2, vim
What area of web design lacks the most?
(Suzuki) New technology is continually being introduced, and I feel that design is just being expended. I feel there is a lack of intent to leave good designs behind.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
(Yasutomo) “http://herraizsoto.com/works/2009/labuat/soytuaire/” by Mr.doob
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
(Kato) Of course! To win such a prestigious award was an honor for our company and the staffs involved, and it certainly motivates us for our future creative endeavors.
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?
(Suzuki) I try to exercise and get in the sauna once a week. I find exercise and the sauna help remove toxins from the body, and I find it refreshing.
But when I'm busy, it's hard to find the time to do so . . .
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?
(Kato) Yes, I have. “au Apri Fool website” that we were involved with last year generated over 10,000 tweets even though it was limited to one day. To see users tweet comments by the second was startling.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
(Kato) Advances on the web are made at such high speed, so it is really difficult to imagine. At the least, UI where a mouse is operated will probably no longer exist.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
(Kato) Of course, this is the first” LAMDASH DNA” to receive the FWA. However, I'm sure others will soon follow.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purelyexperiential 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?
(Yasutomo) It may be temporary, but I feel interactive expressions on the web are losing ground. It's regrettable, but if that's the case, I guess we have to accept that.
If Flash performance continues to improve, needs may increase outside the web such as for smartphone apps, digital signage, and installation. I really hope Adobe will not abandon Flash.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
(Suzuki) When I feel anxious and lose confidence, I rely on courage!
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
(Yasutomo) By participating in study groups. Interaction between Flash users in Japan is active, so we exchange information.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
(Kato) People who give us work even though we don't have a track record are of course our close friends or people who have given us advice over the years.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
(Suzuki) Basically, I've studied things that I was interested in or felt I needed to know more about through books, etc.
Also, I think taking the challenge to do things you've never done before in your work leads you to acquire new skills.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
(Suzuki) Of course, checking FWA. Also, information is faster abroad than in Japan, so I check bookmark sites outside of Japan.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
(Kato) I believe our job is to communicate with users for the client. In a creative workplace, it's easy to get caught up and turn out something too artistic or academic. I always keep in mind the aim of creating something that will be effective as advertising.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
(Kato) While new technologies constantly appear on the web and are very stimulating, they are quickly expended. I want to develop a service that enables communication with users on a long-term basis.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
(Kato) It is the concept of gamification. There are trends in technology and expressions, but human instinct is universal. I feel there is potential in gamification which stimulates the instinct and moves users into action.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?