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Wed, Oct 19 2011 19:17:08 UTC

Interview with HelloEnjoy

Today we have an interview with Carlos Ulloa of HelloEnjoy, a design studio behind Lights, an interesting interactive multimedia site created for singer Ellie Goulding using WebGL.

Could you briefly describe yourself?

We are an interactive studio specialized in real-time 3D applications and games. We support the latest 3D technologies such as WebGL, Flash 11 and Unity for the Web, iOS and Android. HelloEnjoy was founded in 2007 by Libertad Aguilera and myself and we proudly remain a team of two, drawing upon a network of talented professionals as each project requires.

I've been passionately involved with 3D graphics since the early 90s, developing Playstation & PC titles at Psygnosis and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. In 1999 I moved into online advertising, employed by leading agencies in Madrid, Barcelona and London, and my work evolved into the fields of graphic and typographic effects, motion design and interactivity, always focused on 3D.

In 2006 I created Papervision3D, the Open Source engine that pioneered the use of 3D graphics in Flash. Later on I moved on to high-end development with Unity, WebGL and now Flash 11. I'm also a regular contributor and speaker at international conferences such as TEDGlobal, Creativity and Technology, Casual Connect, FITC, Flash on the Beach, Adobe MAX and Thinking Digital.

Your company makes web and mobile multimedia experiences for various artists and companies, can you tell us about a few of them?

Our clients tend to be from quite heterogeneous backgrounds. We believe this is due to the fact that our work is very focused on high-end interactive 3D, and because this field is still mainly unexplored in Web, we end up working in all sorts of projects. We usually collaborate with advertising agencies and the kind of interactive content we produce is mostly promotional, ranging from 3D visualizations for car manufacturers (Peugeot, Honda, Toyota, Nissan), to casual 3D games or navigations for all sorts of brands, from film-makers to consumer goods, and just recently the music industry (Starbucks, Sony, Absolut, Rexona, Disney, Universal Music).

Because 3D for the Web is a very dynamic world changing constantly, we also devote quite a lot of time to personal projects. These provide us with precious R+D time which we can later put to good use in commercial production, which usually has very tight schedules and can't afford lots of experimenting with new technologies. Our ''hello'' series of interactive toys (helloflower, HelloRacer) fits in this category.

You use Flash, Web GL and even mobile technologies, which one works best for the products you create?

We are technology agnostic, it really all depends on the project and what the client wants to achieve. We try to approach each project as a unique product and sometimes is difficult to strike a balance between what the client wants and what will make the users happy. If we were to introduce in this equation a preferred technology bias, we might be doing a disservice both to the client and the users. So we first decide what we want to achieve and then choose the technology.

In any case, we truly love them all. We've been trying to push high-quality 3D content on the Web for many years, and it now seems that its time has come, that the tools and the users' hunger is finally there. In essence, all 3D technologies are the same, and as long as people like what we create, we don't mind the tools.

Lights is a fully Web GL based multimedia site for Ellie Goulding, how did you get the idea of making something like that?

From visuals at music concerts and festivals. It's one of our favourite leisure activities and we love it when artists put a lot of effort in the visual show to match the mood of their songs (some memorable shows that pop to the mind are Daft Punk, Etienne de Crecy, RadioHead, Sigur Ros or Deadmau5). That feeling of perceiving music in an enhanced way through light and colour, plus interactivity, is what we wanted to achieve in Lights.

Did the singer bring a lot of input on how she wanted the site to work, or did you have complete control?

The client was the record company, Universal Music, and they were simply fantastic. They gave us free creative rein and were very understanding with the experimental nature of the technology, but at the same time made great contributions to the creative concept. Twitter integration, for example, was their idea, and it was easy to implement because they already had the Echo technology in place.

How long did it take to make that site and how much work was it to make sure it works in all popular browsers?

It took us 2 full months to finish the site, but only a couple of days to resolve specific-browser issues.

Is it your impression that this type of interactive sites is the future as opposed to the more traditional site for singers or musicians?

We'd certainly love to see that future, and we also see mobile, particularly tablets, as an excellent platform to offer that kind of interactive music content.

What kind of user feedback do you get from Lights and the other sites you've made?

Lights is being particularly well received, people are sharing it like crazy and it's driving a lot of visits to the site and exposure for the artist.

But other pieces, like our helloflower app, allow users to spend many hours with it. They get more attached, specially if they can create their own content like 3D flowers. You get to know some of those users by name, because they write to you, send suggestions, praise, content created with the app. It's very rewarding.

Great-looking, simple experiences that are easy to grasp give users a lot of pleasure, and that elicits from them an emotional response, which is stronger the longer they play with the piece. Simple interactive experiences are easy to understand and shared with enthusiasm, but creative apps where users can unleash their creativity are cherished and followed for months.

Do you have any future project you can talk about?

We have a new idea for the ''hello'' series which is starting to take shape. It's a WebGL game, but this time with console quality graphics. We want to see how far we can push the technology and understand the potential of WebGL for games and realistic-looking experiences.

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