Friday, April 20, 2012

Checking in with New York; Christoffer and Dom at digital agency Vitro

Getting behind the scenes of the recently launched project together with Hyper Island student Christoffer Lorang Dahl and alumni Dominic Al-Samarraie.

Introduce yourselves!
Dom: I'm part of the first class out of Hyper Island Manchester - the Digital Media Management Program. Before Hyper Island and coming out to New York for an internship at Vitro, my background was in fashion. I still design for and run my own label called Dom Dick & Harry and I'll be out in New York for the foreseeable working as an Art Director here.

Christoffer: I'm a post-designer and boy scout from Oslo, Norway. After a couple of years in media and advertising there, I was fortunate enough to join the Digital Media Program in Karlskrona. I came to Vitro NYC to work as a producer, but day to day I do a lot more than that. I don't have a background in fashion, but I'm pretty happy to wear nice clothes.

Tell us about the project and the initial brief?
The client is ASICS America, whose shoes are pretty incredible. Actually they are known for making the best running shoes in the world - but the current customers are mainly marathon runners and we wanted to get into a bigger market, basically anyone who is running, but also a younger audience who is generally into staying active and healthy.

The project actually started in February of this year, when we got a 24 hour brief to show the technical side of the shoes, because they are very technical, but we wanted to show that in a fun and communicative way. The mock up that was created during that 24 hour brief was the start of the rest of the project - and the main idea and overall look actually stayed the same. It was a short project - only 6 weeks - and very intense.

The Asics brand had been communicating a lot about the "spirit" of the runner/athlete; ie defying rankings, competing with themselves, etc.  We kept those elements alive for this project, and focused on making the tech side fun and interesting. Like; to be able to run across water you need good equipment. You can see the end result, with all of the different videos and the interactive shoe exploration, at All clips are 100% real!

What was the work process like?

C (producer): Because our offices are in New York and California, and both offices were working together on this project production, it was even more important than usual to communicate what was happening. Everybody had to be aligned and working towards the exact same goal. On top of that we were working with the production company Kokokaka in Sweden to create the site, so the time difference was another factor we had to deal with. Working from New York, it was three hours back to San Diego, and then six hours forward to Sweden. Yet, the success of the site proves that collaboration across the world is possible.

D (designer): For me, the process was very intense in the first two weeks setting out the concept and defining design details at the start that would aid us throughout the project. In a very short time we created a production-ready deck that showed every aspect of the site, so how each page would look and work, how videos would play, how the parallax scrolling would feel, and how the sharing functions would display for example. Most agencies don't do this - they leave a lot to the imagination. VITRO leaves nothing out. If it's going in the final product, we mock it up before hand. I think this is one thing about VITRO that's different - that much design is a lot of work, but that way the final product is much easier to see from the outset, and it prevents question marks from popping up in the client's head.

What was most challenging?
D: The most challenging thing for me was to ensure details in the finished site were as true as possible to the initial concept and design. I love design that is as simple as possible and seeing everything we made from a user's point of view allowed us to keep that purity and function we intended as well as having a great looking site.

C: Firstly, to quickly explore the creative solutions together in order to create a statement of work that rightfully and exactly defined the project as we intended it to be. Furthermore, from a tech perspective; to create a content heavy web site is always a pain. By weighing in things like available bandwidth, screen sizes, browsers and so on, we were able to make a decision where I think we placed both feet firmly in the 2010s internet-vise.

How would you sum it up in 2 words?

C: Exciting stress.
D: Proud & sleepless.

Finally, who would win a fight between dragon vs dragon sized alligator?

C: The alligator, because it's evolved for millions of years, outliving even the dinosaurs. Also, dragons don't exist.
D: The dragon, he would just shoot fire everywhere.

The Digital Media Management program in Manchester is now open for applications, the program starts January 2013.

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