In Orbit With... Adrian Belina

TMU: What sparks your creativity?

AB: Looking at things online - websites, blogs, award sites - anything that compiles what’s current and important in the industry. Inspiration can come from anywhere so you need to surround yourself with outlets for it, network with other creatives, keep up to date with newsletters, even just have a Chrome extension that shows you something new when you open a new tab.

TMU: What was your favorite project to work on in recent history?

AB: Probably the WebVR experience we made for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. It satisfied a lot of the things that one looks for as a creative - a product that you enjoy marketing, and a project that presents a challenge. The particular challenge with Dunkirk was very technical in that we had to make an epic multiplayer VR experience that’s accessible by all browsers and devices - something that had never been done at this scale before.

The most important aspect was the multiplayer gameplay because it captures the film’s theme of comradery, so we began there and worked inwards. There were an incredible amount of considerations with usability and interactions, especially with new formats like webVR. Finding a good story line to wrap that all around ended up being one of the last pieces of the puzzle.

Dunkirk WebVR - a multiplayer VR experience based on Christopher Nolan's epic.

TMU:You’re on both the creative and managerial sides at Jam3 - What’s your favorite part of those jobs? Do they ever blend?

AB: They give me different challenges - the managerial aspect is a challenge of people and helping them achieve their own goals. It’s a tough balance between giving guidance and not micromanaging. You need to let people have autonomy, because that’s what inspires passion, but you also need to help steer them in the right direction and occasionally challenge them with an alternate point of view.

TMU: How do you facilitate a healthy company culture at Jam3?

AB: We run a business of people so we’re only as good as the people we hire. Maintaining a good company culture is important, the owners and managers have to be passionate, honest, and show employees that they care.

I’ve always strived to make the workplace fun and enjoyable - after all, these are the people you spend 40+ hours a week with, so it’s important that you get along with each other. I think we’ve achieved this at Jam3. We even have a term, the ‘Jam Fam’, which I’m happy to say was coined by the staff. It shows that they care about their coworkers and peers, which wouldn’t happen if they didn’t see the same coming from the top down.

TMU: What’s next for the field of digital advertising?

AB: In the consumer sphere, we’ll see VR trend heavily towards the gaming industry. From a marketing or advertising perspective Augmented Reality is certainly the next “it” thing - and it’s already happening. Mobile devices are able to do greater things with advertising.

We’re at the cusp of what these new technologies have to offer, the next step is the see in what ways creativity can be applied to them. AI and its uses, particularly chat bots and speech control, are becoming more widely used - I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary there yet, but as that technology advances we’ll see more uses very quickly.

Jam3's chat bot for John Wick 2 is pushing the limits of AI innovation.

One challenge we face currently with AR is that it requires downloading an app to use it. But as the technology improves, we’ll get past that. I find AR much more interesting than VR because it involves a space that is relative to you, so it gives the experiences context with places that you’re familiar with. There’s excitement right now, but the creativity is stymied by the hardware that we’re dealing with - how good it looks, the fidelity etc. is all beholden to the processor of your device.

The Microsoft HoloLens is a good example of this. It’s incredible to try on and play around with, but you can see it’s still the first attempt at the technology. Once the resolution and the field of vision in the device increase, and when it looks a little less dorky, then there will be more exciting possibilities. What I do like about it is the ability to see freely something in your space and walk around it - when you use AR on a phone or tablet you’re still holding a device. Years in the future when these things don’t seem so awkward and clunky, and when we figure out what the potential uses are then there will be a lot to explore. The creative industry right now is a trial ground. And that’s a very fun place to be.

TMU: Given the chance, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

AB: Keep working as hard as you can, it’s worth it. And from my future self to my current self, remember to chill the f out.

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