Please, introduce yourself.
I’m Pablo Vio, Co-founder and Executive Creative Director at Jam3.
How did you come to the digital area?
I started my career as a graphic designer and then fell in love with the Internet–particularly, I loved the motion and interactivity that some of the pros were throwing down at the time (i.e. 2Advanced). It was next level shit and I didn’t want to miss the party!
We had a very creative decade. It seems that digital creativity is more and more focused on efficiency.
Do you think a brighter future is coming out?
We live in a world where technologies are being discovered faster than we can humanly consume. Information efficiency is at the highest order, we want information instantly, and we want to consume it everywhere. I don’t think this will be a detriment, but instead, it will evolve our industry and help inhibit new creative tools that will allow us to express our ideas in radical ways. The future - in my opinion - is brighter than ever for creative minds in all fields. And I’m excited to be part of that future.
What do you think of WebGL? What does it bring to the end-user?
WebGL is a wonderful tool that allows creativity to flourish and immerse users into storytelling experiences. Photo-real gaming graphics just existing in PCs and gaming consoles is slowly moving to a thing of the past. The quality of shaders and textures are getting better, and computers along with mobile hardware are becoming more powerful, opening amazing opportunities for web app experiences.
Now of course, like anything, there’s a time and place for this type of technology and if not developed properly, it can be very taxing on the system leading to overheating and crashes. Ultimately giving the technology a bad rep. (Ahem…Flash.)
How came the idea of Mustang Customizer?
Well, we were approached by Team Detroit, Ford’s agency of record. The Mustang Customizer has always been sought after as one of the most innovative car customizing experiences on the Internet. They really wanted to take this next version to the next level. The 2015 Mustang got a completely new look, the curves and lines were impeccable and we wanted users to be able to lean in and appreciate every angle of the car. Unlike previous years, this version was mobile-first and it needed to be a seamless experience across all platforms. We had been tinkering with WebGL quite a bit over the past few projects and we garnered lots of knowledge. We were confident in our abilities to address the technology deficiencies and make the car look as photo-real as possible.
"We noticed other WebGL car examples lacked real-life reflections."
How did you proceed? What were the different stages of creation and development?
One of our client’s concerns was that although WebGL was an immersive technology, it lacked realism and they were afraid it would cheapen the brand. The best way to prove to a client that you can deliver innovative tech is to put your money where your mouth is and prove it. We exhausted all resources and leaned into a prototype for about two weeks. We noticed other WebGL car examples lacked real-life reflections making the car look cheap. We understood that what was missing from those experiences, were complex layers of materials and custom shaders that would give the car the realism we were looking for. So we made sure to include it in the Mustang Customizer.
What are the different skills that worked on it?
Our team was quite extensive and the number of team members fluctuated throughout the project.
1 Creative Director
1 Lead designer
1 UX designer
2 Junior designers
1 Technical Director
1 Project Manager
5 Front-End Devs
2 Graphics Devs
3 Back-End Devs
2 Cocoon Devs
4 3D Artists
1 VFX Director
We also partnered with our very talented friends Tendril for their expertise in modelling and building the spherical environments.
Did you run into any obstacles while working on the project?
When you’re pushing the limits of technology, there are always obstacles, at times these obstacles felt like mountains. At the beginning, we tampered with different approaches and when these avenues didn’t prove fruitful, we corrected and pushed ahead. The list of obstacles and challenges was long of course, but the three highlights were: 1. make the car look as realistic as possible, 2. choose a code platform that could seamlessly export the same system to 3 platforms (Desktop, iOS and Android) and 3, the polygon budget had to be low enough to maximize performance and maintain device heating to a minimum.
What do you expect in term of ROI?
Obviously the expectation would be first and foremost to sell more cars, but I believe the car buying experience begins with admiration. What better way to admire a car than being able to appreciate every angle as if the car was in front of you, as if in real life. We hope our immersive experience not only allows the user to admire the car, but also gives them an opportunity to dream up their very own Mustang and share it with the world.
"There are certain places where 3D thrives–and the car industry is one of those places."
Do you think people want to see more 3D content on the web?
I think 3D on the web has a time and place in our business, but it doesn’t always fit. I don’t think people are asking for 3D but there are certain places where it thrives–and the car industry is one of those places. Few companies have been able to master an engaging experience, and it’s hard to really appreciate a car when you’re seeing it through the lens of approved car angles. This is where I believe 3D does thrive and provides a solution to a problem. It’s all about target audience, as well as time and place.
Do you think Facebook is "swallowing" the web?
I don’t think they’re swallowing the web. Facebook is a leading-edge company and will continue to evolve its business and stay relevant in people’s lives. As one of the top digital revenue companies in the world, they will continue to push the envelope of technology and usability. As a user and a tech-tinkerer, I’m excited to see where else Facebook goes past the social platform. We all know the internet will continue to evolve and people’s needs and interests will as well.
"Sometimes the most creative pieces of work are the ones that are restricted within a sandbox of rules."
What is the role of a creative digital agency with social networks? Do they offer enough space for creativity?
The very nature of our industry requires us to be on top of the latest and greatest, whether it's learning a new platform, a new coding language, or a new way to tell a story. Our role as a creative digital agency is to evolve and pivot as the industry does. Sometimes the most creative pieces of work are the ones that are restricted within a sandbox of rules.
Is there a new technology that is particularly exciting for you?
VR is certainly a technology that seems to be lingering in our industry. I still think it's early in its evolution, but we're excited to see where it goes. Once we look beyond the accessibility of the hardware, that’s when I think it will flourish beyond our imaginations. How that will happen? I’m not sure I have the answer to that yet, but I'm excited at the opportunity to crack the nut.
What are you working on these days?
Our business has never been one dimensional, we always have our hands in many different projects that are quite diverse. Designing and developing projects has always been a passion of ours, but our experience over the years allows us to offer more thinking and strategy beyond the one problem. We’re finding certain brands are seeking nimble strategy engagements and we’re really enjoying working in this space.
Thank you for sharing!