Tim Barber is a founder and the executive creative director at Odopod in San Francisco. For the past 15 years, he has practiced his craft—creating entertaining and meaningful experiences for people using new technology platforms. He draws on a unique combination of technical insight, entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for storytelling. Tim leads work for the UFC, Sony, PlayStation, Nike, MTV and Google.
Creatively, how’s San Francisco doing these days?
Something weird is happening in San Francisco.
For quite a long time, it’s been home to a lot of inventive, world-changing companies — phenomenal ad agencies, graphic design studios, industrial design companies, and technology companies. And now the fences between all these creative people are being dismantled — agencies are creating apps, start-ups are inventing media properties, and big brands are learning to behave like tech startups.
When the rules change like this, it creates a huge amount of tumultuous, inventive energy.
I really enjoy it. The tumult plays to our strengths. Since we started, Odopod has had one foot in the advertising world and the other in the software world. We work comfortably on big campaigns and big applications – doing our best when they come together.
After 10 years, we’re no longer an anomaly.
Now, we’re refining the model. We want to create the equivalent of IDEO for the digital age — a company that can reveal unique insights and then martial design and technology to act on them. We want to improve the way brands and businesses operate, especially how they connect with people who use their products.
Associate Technical Director, Boris Pique shares his experiences attending and speaking at this year's FITC San Francisco.
FITC had its first FlashintheCan conference in Toronto in 2002 and has since grown to become one of the most important events of its kind. What initially started as a Flash-only conference has expanded over the years to include sessions about other relevant technologies such as Processing and openFrameworks just to name a few. Even if the event is a Flash conference at its core, the broader breadth of topics is, in my opinion, a welcome approach since it’s undeniable that technologies other than Flash are better suited for certain types of work.
Odopod Designer, Linzi Bergmann shares her experiences from this year's FITC San Francisco.
I am super excited that FITC came to San Francisco this year. The conference was smaller and more intimate than FITC Toronto, so you were able talk with and learn from the speakers on a more personal level. There were some key themes that continued to stand out throughout all of the presentations and an overwhelming amount of awesome content, topics and speakers. Here are some of my highlights from this year.
Prototypes can serve a wide range of purposes. If you haven’t done so yet I encourage you to read previous posts in which we’ve looked at prototypes that help define the user experience and others that evaluate technical feasibility.
In this post we’ll look at another kind of prototypes, those that are used as a sales tool.
Prototypes as a sales tool
Sometimes clients come to us with very ambitious and exciting application ideas. At this point, their internal teams have spent some time giving birth to these ideas and are working towards getting them green lit to become actual products. In order for these projects to ever see the light of day, our clients usually need to get approval from stakeholders higher up in their organizations. These stakeholders are not designers or developers; they are business people. So for them to be able to fully grasp the value of these potential products it’s essential to present them with a visual depiction of how these applications might look and behave. It’s our goal to help these clients make a strong case for the investment that these projects will require when fully produced.
Complexity requires fierce collaborators
The complexities of working with global brands in the digital landscape require Odopod to be a deeply collaborative company. We are often one partner in a large ecosystem of other agencies and internal teams, all servicing different aspects of our clients marketing and communication needs. For this reason, we have embraced our role as collaborator and strive to forge formidable partnerships.
Knowing our role in these loose confederates is paramount. Too frequently, overreaching agencies debate their area of ownership and jostle for the client’s favor, which can be a recipe for dysfunction and subpar work.
I’ve found that effective ecosystems surrounding a brand must demonstrate the attributes of any productive and successful team – specifically; mutual trust, mutual respect, complete communication as well as a shared purpose and vision.
Beyond merely accepting the idea of collaboration, the larger team must invite it. Desire it. Even, when required, fight for it.
Communication Arts so graciously featured the work and the culture of Odopod in the 2010 Photography Annual. We hope you enjoy the article.
Photography Annual July/August 2010
By Sam McMillan
On the spacious sunlit second floor of the San Francisco loft they call simply, The Studio, 30 of Odopod's production staff are quietly at work. Arrayed in three long columns, worktables are placed end-to-end and front to-front. Each column constitutes a multidisciplinary team of graphic designers, interaction designers, programmers and art production staffers. The close quarters means the teams constantly face each other, and have no choice but to engage and interact with one another.
The physical layout of the Studio is modeled on small independent production studios that hark back to Odopod's genesis eight years ago. As Odopod matures and grows, co-founder and creative director Tim Barber explains that the floor plan is a way of maintaining the creative energy, jump-starting the free-flow of ideas and sharing resources. Between the columns, the teams are matrixed to encourage cross-team communication. So a programmer can simply turn around and ask a member of another team for advice, help troubleshooting or just extend an invitation to get lunch.
Each team is led by an associate creative director and a senior producer. The arrangement is "a legacy of our training as architects," Barber says. 'We're still fascinated by the idea of shaping spaces to help us work and interact better." It seems to be working.
At a time when many agencies are downsizing, Odopod is thriving, winning new clients, capturing every award in sight, generating huge industry buzz and, yes... hiring. Today, Odopod creates digital marketing for clients like Nike, Sony and Red Bull that want to reach an audience on the Web.
FITC just announced its San Francisco lineup - full of inspirational speakers from all over the world including Odopod's Associate Technical Director, Boris Pique. FITC comes to San Francisco August 17-19 with Boris' talk, "Innovation through Collaboration," being held on the 19th at 12:30.
For the full schedule visit FITC San Francisco. See you there!
Interesting bits from around the web as uncovered by the Odopod Code Forum.
Adobe worked with Wired to bring a digital version of their magazine to the iPad as a native app. Here's an interesting article about how it was built.
• Cool: Nicely designed. Seeing Adobe trying to provide alternative tools to create content for iOS.
• Not Cool: A 527 MB download and being all image-based doesn't seem like a viable approach.
In a previous post we pointed out the limitations of the current html5 audio tag not having access to raw data. It turns out that a group of web audio and Mozilla developers are working on bringing audio data to audio and video elements.
• Cool: Offering a solution to bring raw audio data to the browser. This is essential to be able to create web-based audio applications or at least fully featured audio players.
• Not cool: As usual, when will we have this (or something like it) for ALL browsers?
• Cool: Simplifying the conversion of Flash ads to JS and HTML (who loves making ads?)
• Not cool: We did a quick test and unless your swf is timelined and really simple it won’t work. Minimal bits of ActionScript broke it.
Web Fonts at the Crossing
A very nice and concise article about the history and current landscape of web fonts.
• Cool: A List Apart bringing great and relevant content to the web.
• Not cool: Nothing really.
This week's discussion on technology from around the web.
Edwin – a speech-to-speech assistant (think accessibility) Android app built by one of our very own developers Carl Rice. Some cool features include asking for weather, location, translations, closest public transportation, etc. Note that the app is in an early alpha stage, this is a very early release and still a work-in-progress.
• Cool: It only took Carl under a week from downloading the SDK to publishing the app to the Android Market. Cool? More like Awesome!
• Not cool: Carl showed the app in our forum and you won’t get the full effect until you see it in person.
A Book Apart - "A Book Apart publishes highly detailed and meticulously edited examinations of single topics"
• Cool: Zeldman and company bringing insightful books to the world. We are excited to get our hands on their first published book, HTML5 for Web Designers by Jeremy Keith. Here’s an interview with Jeremy about the book.
• Not cool: We need to wait a couple more weeks. We want more!
• Cool: New doctype will be supported by current browsers even if they don't implement the new html5 spec, they will just switch to standards mode.
• Not cool: We have to test this to believe it!
This week's discussion on technology from around the web.
• Cool: HTML5 GPL2/MIT licensed game library.
• Not cool: Still in its infant stage, no documentation, only 2D (no isometry), no audio yet, etc.
Interface - Mockup & prototyping app for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
• Cool: No coding experience needed to put together a prototype, hello prototyping designers!
• Not cool: Missing important features to be completely viable such as the ability to run on the desktop or sharing prototypes with other phones.
Volkswagen App my Ride - Contest to design car UI.
• Cool: Potentially designing a car interface that millions of people see.
• Not cool: VW trying to get design work for free.
Apps for Healthy Kids - Competition to end childhood obesity within a generation.
• Cool: Being part of a good cause.
• Not cool: Not having time for pro bono work.