互动中国专访: 一场来自UNIT9关于未来技术趋势的杂谈

unit9_team_damndigital-interview

本次的采访主题,我们把主题聚焦在了“未来技术趋势”,范围再精准些,就是那些我们时常挂在嘴边讨论的网站设计与移动领域。乔布斯的苹果给Flash泼了一盆冷水,WebGL技术的强大让网站更加惊艳,“交互式”成为了项目制作的主旋律,“必须跨平台”是每个设计师开发者们不得不考虑的问题⋯⋯

当然,没有人会知道在接下来的几个月或是未来的几年里会发生些什么,但这并不阻碍我们对此做出自己的见解,或好或坏,也许只是来回地在原地绕了一圈。
来自UNIT9的三位互动总监ANRICK BREGMANMARTIN PERCYROBERT BADER以及拥有技术背景的founder之一YATES BUCKLEY作为我们本次采访的对象,给出了很实在的回答——一切从我们能为用户做些什么开始…
采访&文字&翻译: Viking Wong@DamnDigital
校对: Vivian Peng@DamnDigital
(原创内容, 转载请务必注明来自DamnDigital)

YATES BUCKLEY, UNIT9的创始人兼Partner

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ANRICK BREGMAN, 互动总监

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我加入UNIT9有点偶然,那时我正在寻找更有挑战性的工作,我很想涉及网站领域。我自学了编程,做实验,尝试着一些不同的东西。自己制作了作品集,投递一些公司,然后某天的早上,我接到了来自UNIT9的电话。最初我作为创意加入到团队,但现在,我成为了Freelance Director,这样相对自由的关系给了我更大的创作空间。

 

MARTIN PERCY, 互动总监

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我是互动电影总监(interactive Film Director),我所要做的就是利用交互性和电影,创建网站及应用程序。在与其他优秀的创意人员的合作下,我很幸运的荣获三座Webby Awards(包括了2012最佳互动视频)、三次艾美奖提名以及两次BAFTA英国学院奖提名。

 

ROBERT BADER, 互动总监

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我在慕尼黑学习摄影,在2000年时去了伦敦,在那儿遇到了UNIT9的技术总监Yates。那时的UNIT9规模不大,他们需要一个开发人员,于是我学会了PHP编码。几年后,我认为自己需要接受一些新的挑战,让自己更富创意性。幸运的是,我不需要为此换公司,我被任命为互动总监,我最新的一份冒险就是开拓UNIT9在柏林的市场。

 

对于未来几年里网站设计与技术发展趋势的看法:

ANRICK BREGMAN

如果让我具体谈谈网站建设,那么我认为我们在目前使用的技术上有点原地转圈了。我想说,近来的焦点HTML5的确引发了不少的探讨,但是这种努力又回到了我们在使用Flash时对于互动的唯一标准。令人沮丧。

我预见到的趋势之一是大量的创新和知识的共享,这可以看做是为弥补失去的时间而做的努力。当你把技术人员放在像html5这样相对较小的思维模式下,他们会开始快速地工作,快速地想出点子来扩大这个思维模式,努力使它变得更强大更好,这是非常有趣的。在工作中看到革新的力量很棒。

就未来趋势而言,我认为内容分发(Content Distribution)会是今后的重点。

用户如何在互联网上找到好的东西?好内容的制造者该如何从中获益?无论是单纯的实验性项目还是商业性质的,我都应该把目光放远,把重点放在项目是以怎样的方式最终呈现,这就是所谓的内容分发。我们有很多渠道用来分配内容,但是就如何与这些渠道建立联系,又该如何让用户找到你制造的内容,谈论的少之甚少。

MARTIN PERCY

我认为我们正处于一个非常有趣而又奇怪的时期,技术正逐渐变得政治化:从技术的角度来看,像HTML5技术不仅被视为一种有效的技术手段,更是一场政治化运动。人们在讨论使用HTML5就像他们在讨论为奥巴马投票一样,这让技术讨论变得复杂···

ROBERT BADER

我猜二维设计的时代又要到来了?在过去的几年里,互联网制造了无限的可能性:从带有故事性的网站设计,到用户体验还有内容本身。一个好的设计应该对内容有助推的作用,并且能够确保设计不会抢去内容的风头。

 

在未来几年中,网络的发展对于目前用户的使用情况而言,会有些什么影响?

YATES BUCKLEY

这个问题我喜欢,因为它涉及到的范围太广,我们可以写一本关于这方面的书了。我很想知道你们(中国)会给出什么样的答案,我认为你们的答案会比我丰富有趣的多。

我们正处在一个大型技术公司制造出的政治纷争时期,而且我认为消费者为了赶上科技发展的步伐在这方面的经济花费有点大。我很好奇,在这个体系创造出一片全新局面之前,它在集中技术影响力方面还能走多久。

如果带宽增长并且保持在一个便宜的价位,我认为将出现一个很有趣的阶段。你可以试想一下,有一组在不同地方的人总是靠着视频彼此相互联系。这可能导致一个同步浏览的场景,我和你通过视频整天连接,我们可以很轻易的选择分享我们正在做的以及我们正在使用的网站。

 

最近有哪些重点关注的技术:

ANRICK BREGMAN

我最近的一些项目都与WebGL技术有关。

动画是我职业生涯的开始,我真的非常热爱它,现在又回到了动画上。虽然WebGL是个比较新的领域,但我可以使用许多经典的动画诀窍令我感到异常的舒服,就像回到了家一样。

除了这些项目,在未来的几年中我也会尝试执导更多的拍摄项目。我很享受现场拍摄独有的紧迫感和气氛。那些在拍摄现场或工作室的日子的非常令我上瘾,但也令我时刻提心吊胆着。

ROBERT BADER

WebGL技术的出现让我们进入了技术发展的另一乐章,特别是Google近期推出了它自己的渲染引擎Blink。

希望我们能避免新一轮的浏览器大战吧。而令我印象最深刻的作品是《Find Your Way To Oz》,它展示了WebGL技术的无限可能性,从中我们可以看到未来技术的发展。

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《Find Your Way To Oz》Casestudy on DamnDigital: http://www.damndigital.com/archives/83448

MARTIN PERCY

(这里Martin发表了他对中国技术发展的看法)

很明显欧洲的科技发展正陷入停滞期,与此同时中国正在向未来进攻。

我认为中国成功创造了一个并不是由少数硅谷巨头支配的数字空间,以此向全世界实现交互性的有效功能。

比如,比起twitter我更喜欢微博,理由之一就是能直接附加图片,这从视觉上就变得更加有趣。另一个原因是中国语言的特质:同样是140个字符,中文就能表达更多的内容。

 

当移动设备日渐成为访问互联网最常见的终端时,网页设计师/开发者们不得不面对“如何跨平台的呈现同样网页”这样的挑战。UNIT 9在这方面是否有自己的解决方案,或是可行性的建议吗?

YATES BUCKLEY

很抱歉,我们也找不到一个很好的办法。或许只有当确定并且限制了自己的研究领域后,才会找出更好的解决方案。如果我们可以创造出一些能重复利用的产品,或许我们能开发一些不错的跨平台/跨浏览器的程序。

但遗憾的是UNIT9几乎从未连续两次有过同样的工作。因此解决跨平台的最好技术,莫过于在项目一开始就对所有的平台做一个彻底了解。幸运的是,开发者可以借鉴以往他们在不同平台上采用的技术,我们不会强迫他们使用特定的工具。因此,所有涉及到跨平台的关键因素往往来自团队人员自身对此的掌握。

 

当开始着手创建一个网站时,哪一部是你特别在意的?网页设计、动画效果、UX或是你认为最重要的部分?

ANRICK BREGMAN

我总是从最基本的结构框架开始,就像电影必须有脚本一样。

试着从用户角度想象,他们将会如何浏览我创建的网站,然后思考他们在浏览网站时会这样做,那样做的原因。

MARTIN PERCY

这些都不是。我更加关心终端用户——我们该为他们做些什么?任何的一切都可以从这里获得启发。

互动装置,互动视频,互动app…对于你而来“互动”意味着?做好一个成功的online campaign,可否给些建设性意见。

ROBERT BADER

我把“互动”一词理解为用户与所要传达内容之间的一个双向的信息流动。

这使它不同于电视。你不仅仅是消费者,更多的是一个参与者。对我而言,因兴趣而去参加,最终用户能对所讲述的故事感到好奇,被良好的用户体验所吸引。一个好的campaign必须做到这一点,获得用户的关注,让他们在体验过后有想要分享的冲动。

 

作过了HTML5项目,互动视频,应用程序等的各种有趣的项目,接下来有想尝试的不同领域吗?

ANRICK BREGMAN

拍摄领域无疑是我想花更多时间去摸索的方向。我认为这是从情感层面接触观众最直接,也是最有效的方法。当我们看到别人的面部表情或是身体语言,或者观察他们的情绪反应,我们的大脑就会做出强烈的反射。这对我来说是个有冲击力的画面。把实景拍摄于互动元素结合,用有趣的手法表现,我的目的就是改变用户观看的方式。

MARTIN PERCY

我想我还是会继续负责基于互动性和电影的网站建设和app开发。这就是我想做的,并且做到更好…

我最近负责为英国复苏委员会(Resuscitation Council UK)制作了一款交互式应用《Lifesaver》,结合了真人电影与互动游戏,模拟做CPR(心肺复苏术)的场景。通过移动设备,用户更能体会到此款应用的乐趣。

《Lifesaver》Casestudy on DamnDigital: http://www.damndigital.com/archives/94252

 

当然在问题的最后,我们也不会放过UNIT9作为一家拥有众多创意人才,每年有不少佳作出产的Production Co.是如何管理自己的团队,以及作为团队核心人员的3位总监是如何保持自己的创意永远新鲜。

YATES BUCKLEY

总的来说,UNIT9有超过50名员工,并且有一个十分活跃的工作网络至少有100位团队人员经常在一起工作。很难说公司的结构属于哪种,因为大部分的员工身处世界各地不同的地方,有着不一样的专业及工作安排。

我们参与制作的项目无论是类型还是数量随时都在变化,所以我们需要有一个非常灵活的工作架构,以此应对任何可能发生的变化。我们保持公司结构扁平化的管理方式,很少有中间的管理层,这样一来,我们的团队就可以作为一个单元独立工作。正因如此,我们在不同工作角色和专业性上没做总体规划,相反,我们会对不同的工作需要进行有效的分配。

沟通是保持这一切运作起来的重要元素,我们花大量的时间在交流上。我个人所扮演的角色就是努力保持员工之间在技术,知识领域中得到交流。看看能否通过沟通上的改善,从而取得更好的效果。

 

ANRICK BREGMAN

我花大把的时间在http://ffffound.com/ 上。这是我的弱项。花几个小时浏览大量的图片,可以给我灵感。当然,我也喜欢去书店逛逛,无论是一般的书籍还是以设计为主。Magma这家位于伦敦的书店就是个不错的地方,值得我花几个小时在那儿,穿梭在书架间。

最后,我最喜欢做的事情就是参加节日庆典。我不经常参加,但上周,我去了贝尔格莱德,参加了在那儿举行的Resonate——一个将程序代码与艺术结合的新媒体大会。

MARTIN PERCY

现实生活是我灵感的来源,因为我认为大部分好的互动电影的基础不在于你事先构思故事情节然后试图与受众沟通互动,相反好的电影是基于现实活动,然后在此基础上施以电影的拍摄手法和沟通技巧。所以,就像Bali Temple Explorer,它让用户探索现实生活;Lifesaver则让用户真切的体会做CRP的感觉。这样的交互视频才能赋予用户更多情感上的体验。

我经常浏览thefwa.comawwwards.com此外,我也会在YouTube上看看游戏的攻略,如果有趣,我就会去买。

ROBERT BADER

我会定期浏览一下像Creative Applications Network或者TED这样的网站。不过,出去走走,看看表演,旅游,结交新朋友是我灵感的主要来源。

UNIT9 Showreel 2012

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English Original: 

Interview : a Glimpse into Future Technology Trends from UNIT9

Future technology trends seem a broad topic. But here we focus it on how the web design and technology will evolve over the next few years.
That’s right. Steve Jobs slammed Adobe Flash; WebGL changed the way animation used to be; cross-platform is always the question we should think about; “interactive” becomes the main theme of project making… Things in this industry change quickly.
Of course, nobody can know for sure what might happen in the coming months and years. But it does not deter us from giving an opinion on trends, for better or worse, maybe just going round in circles.
Here are the ideas from UNIT9, 3 interactive directors ANRICK BREGMANMARTIN PERCYROBERT BADER and YATES BUCKLEY, founder and partner of UNIT9, who have technical background.

Interviewee:

YATES BUCKLEY Founder and Partner of UNIT9

ANRICK BREGMAN, Interactive Director

I found UNIT9 quite randomly, while searching for a new challenge. I always wanted to work on websites and I was teaching myself to code, making experiments and trying out different things. I used to make small portfolio pieces for myself, and then I sent those out to a few companies, with the idea of working for them. One morning I got a call from the guys at UNIT9 and the rest, as they say, is history.
That was six years ago. Initially I joined as an all-round creative but within a year I had switched roles, to my current position as a freelance director, with UNIT9 working as my representative.

MARTIN PERCY, Interactive Director

I’m an interactive Film Director – everything I do is about creating websites and applications which use interactivity and film. By working with some great people, I’ve been lucky enough to win three Webby Awards (including for best interactive video 2012), three Emmy nominations and two BAFTA British Academy Award nominations.

ROBERT BADER, Interactive Director

I’ve studied photography in Munich, moved to London in 2000 and met UNIT9‘s Technical Director Yates in a pub. UNIT9 was very small back then, they needed a developer, so I learned how to code PHP. A few years later I needed a new challenge and be more creative again. Luckily I didn’t have to change company for that, I was offered a job as Interactive Director. My latest adventure is opening UNIT9 Berlin.

What trends do you see coming in the near future in design? What about in technologies?

ANRICK BREGMAN

If I talk specifically about websites, then I think we are going round in circles a little bit with the technology that is in use. I’d say that the focus lately on html5 has sparked a lot of hard work, but that effort has all been about trying to return to the same standard of interaction that we were used to seeing in Flash. So that’s frustrating.
One of the trends I see coming out of that is a huge amount of innovation and sharing of knowledge; a kind of race to make up for lost time. It’s interesting when you put technology people into a smaller box – like html5 – because all of a sudden we all start to work very quickly to come up with solutions to make that box larger, to expand it, and to try to get it to be better. It’s beautiful to see innovation at work.
In terms of future trends, I think the focus should be on distribute content. How can audiences find something amazing on the internet? And how can the maker of that amazing piece of content benefit? Whether it is an experiment or something commercial, we should go beyond the context, and focus on where this project will end up ie; distribution. We have so many channels to distribute to but very little structure in terms of how to reach those channels, and very little structure in terms of getting an audience to find your work.

MARTIN PERCY

I think we’re in a very interesting but rather strange period where technology has become entangled with politics: so a technology like HTML5 is not just regarded as effective technology from a technical point of view, but as a politically virtuous movement. People say they use HTML5 like they say they’re voting for Obama. Which can make technical discussions rather complex…

ROBERT BADER:

I guess it’s time for more 2D design again? What’s possible online has changed a lot in the last few years: it’s all about the story, the experience, the content itself. A good design should promote the content and almost go unnoticed.
In technology webGL was a very exciting movement until Google recently announced to create their own fork called Blink. Let’s hope we can avoid a new round of browser wars.

And how do you think the web will evolve in the next few years?

YATES BUCKLEY

This is a question I love, because it’s actually so broad we could write a book about this. I would be so curious to find the answer from someone in China and I think their answer would be much more qualified than mine.
We are in a period of political strife among big technology companies and I think the customers are paying the price a bit. I am curious how far the system will be able to go in trying to centralise technical influence before it creates an opportunity for something completely new to transform the landscape.
If bandwidth grows and stays cheap I think there will be a very interesting phase, something like video connections between groups of people in different places that are always on. This would lead to a co-browsing type scenario where me and you are there all day connected on video but we also can easily choose to share what we are doing, the websites we are using.

More recently, is there any technology that you have focused on?

ANRICK BREGMAN

My most recent project was in WebGL, and that was very exciting for me. I started my career in animation and I have always had a real love for animation, so to return to it was wonderful. It created this sense of excitement, because even though WebGL is fairly new I was using so many classic animation tricks which just felt incredibly comfortable, almost like being at home.
But apart from that project, I am super excited about directing more shoots over the next few years. I love the atmosphere and sense of urgency of live shoots; there’s an intensity about the days you are on location or in a studio that is extremely addictive, but also very scary.

ROBERT BADER:

In technology webGL was a very exciting movement until Google recently announced to create their own fork called Blink. Let’s hope we can avoid a new round of browser wars.
《Find Your Way To Oz》Casestudy on DamnDigital: http://www.damndigital.com/archives/83448

Mobile devices are a key consideration when building a site. But cross-platform seems a ‘trouble guy’ for developers to deal with. Does UNIT9 itself have a better process way?

YATES BUCKLEY

We unfortunately can’t really find a better way. This is because a better way exists only when you stabilize and limit the field you are working on. If we created products that could be recreated many times we would be able to set some nice procedures across platforms / browsers.
But UNIT9 unfortunately almost never gets the same job 2 times in a row. So the best technique we have to figure out cross-platform is to just to review all the platforms at the outset of a job. Developers do have tricks to reuse parts of their past work for different platforms luckily, but we don’t force them to use a particular tool. So all the key considerations relating to cross-platform tend to come from the team.

When you start to create a website, what part do you most focus on? Web design, animation effect, UX or maybe others?

ANRICK BREGMAN

I always start with a script, almost like a film. Even if that website is purely functional you can always write a script for it; trying to imagine how the user would travel through this website I am going to create, and thinking about the reasons why they might make a decision to go this way, or that way.

MARTIN PERCY

None of those. I think about the end-users – what are we trying to do for them. Everything else should spring from that.

Interactive installation, Interactive video… so what does ‘interactive’ mean to you?To make a successful online campaign, do you have some thoughtful suggestions ?

ROBERT BADER:

The definition of interactive is allowing a two-way flow of information between it and a user. It’s what makes it different to TV. You don’t just consume, you take part. But for me to be interested in taking part, I have to be drawn into an experience, be made curious about the story. A good campaign will manage to do that, get the user’s attention and entertain to the point that they want to share it.

You have been done a variety of projects including HTML5 project, interactive film, application etc. Are there any other fields that you want to try next?

MARTIN PERCY

I direct websites and apps based around interactivity and film. That’s all I want to do – I just want to do them better…
The works Lifesaver is recently I work on. It’s an action movie with a simple game in it where you choose what the hero does. But by playing it, you learn how to save someone’s life if they were to choke or have a cardiac arrest. I say it’s based around interactivity and film.
《Lifesaver》Casestudy on DamnDigital: http://www.damndigital.com/archives/94252

ANRICK BREGMAN

Filming is definitely a field that I want to explore more. I think it’s the most powerful way to reach your audience on an emotional level. Our brains make the strongest connection when we are watching another human’s facial expressions or body language, or when we are observing their emotional responses. This is an awfully powerful image for me. By mixing live action with interactive elements, in playful ways, my aim is to change the way people watch.

Finally,as a production company, with so many creative talents, we are still curious about that how do UNIT9 manage their team and how the three interactive directors get their inspirations, keeping creative fresh.

How many staff are employed by UNIT9 and more specifically how many designers/ developers are there and what do their roles entail?

YATES BUCKLEY

Overall we are more than 50, and an active production network that is at least 100 people regularly working together. It’s hard to convey our structure though because many people are around the world in different places, and have different specialties and working arrangements with us.
The kind and number of projects we are producing is changing all the time, so we need to have a very flexible structure that can react to anything that might come in. We keep a very flat company structure, there is little intermediate management and our teams can work independently as units. Because of this we don’t really have an overall plan of the different roles and specialties, instead we evolve to what is needed for a particular job.
The glue to keep all this running is communication – we spend a lot of time communicating. My personal role is more about trying to see that the experts are aware of knowledge that another expert might have. To see if by improving communication we can achieve a better result.

How do you do to get inspirations? List 3 places.

ANRICK BREGMAN

I spend an awful lot of time of http://ffffound.com/. This is my weakness. I spend hours scrolling through copious amounts of images, admiring the beautiful and extraordinary inspirational work. Secondly, I love going to bookshops; whether they are traditional ones or design focused. Magma, based in London, is a wonderful example of a beautiful shop where I can be found for hours, trawling through bookshelves, admiring all the exquisite work people are producing.
Finally, one of my favourite things to do is to attend festivals. I don’t get to do this very often, but last week I went to Resonate, New Media Festival in Belgrade. Resonate manages to bring together code and art in a really inspiring way.

MARTIN PERCY

REAL LIFE is my great inspiration: because the basis for most good interactive films is this: don’t think of a story and make it interactive; rather, think of a real-world activity, and model it with film and interactivity. So, the Bali Temple Explorer is a bit like exploring a place in real life. Lifesaver is a bit like doing CPR or saving someone from choking.  This way you get interactive film experiences which are more emotional and more instinctive.
As well as that, to keep current, I look at thefwa.com and awwwards.com most days; I also play walkthroughs of console games on YouTube, and if I find the game interesting enough I’ll buy it.

ROBERT BADER:

There are a few websites like Creative Applications Network or TED that I check regularly, but I get my inspiration mainly from going out, seeing shows, traveling and meeting people.

 


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