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Interview with ProPoint Graphics Art Director, Demitri Alexander

Recently this month we had the pleasure to interview Danielle Beaumont, Adobe Muse Group Product Manager. Danielle shared her vision for the product and offered some interesting insights into the future of the platform. Today, our guest is Mr. Demitri Alexander, Art Director at ProPoint Graphics. Demitri led the team that created the e-press kit microsite for Showtime’s Emmy winning documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, using Adobe Muse.

Demitri Alexander, ProPoint Graphics Art DirectorSWB: Hello Demitri, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the field of web design and web development.

Demitri: I am the art director of ProPoint’s interactive and motion team. I started working in interactive design and development about 14 years ago. Back in 2000 we used HTML and macromedia products which some may know as Flash and Director. At the time, Flash was the tool for dynamic interactive experiences, primarily because it was so feature rich. Now that HTML5 is popular — thanks to mobile platforms — my interests have returned to HTML. Overall, I’m always looking for tools to help my group’s production pipeline.

SWB: Please provide us with a brief description of the website.

Demitri: Showtime needed a way to publicize their groundbreaking documentary series about climate change. Under normal circumstances their PR team would create a paper-based press kit to share with the media. Paper, and its environmental impact, just didn’t seem like the right approach.

The Showtime executives wanted something innovative to quickly catch and keep the attention of busy entertainment reporters, so they asked us at ProPoint to create a digital press kit (also called an EPK or Electronic Press Kit). Luckily their in-house print team had some beautifully shot hi-res photography and video. It made sense to build a microsite that offered a dynamic and memorable experience while still providing the necessary details about the series.

The EPK Microsite

Our final product is an e-press kit (EPK) microsite that opens with the powerful Years of Living Dangerously trailer and then features large photo backgrounds, which are independent from the content in the foreground.

We are so pleased with the outcome, that we added it to our portfolio of samples. We’re also submitting it for awards and recognition. So far the response has been really positive. We made the Public Shortlist for The FWA and Adobe Muse site of the day.

SWB: Why did you choose Adobe Muse?

Demitri: Adobe Muse enabled us to quickly mobilize and meet Showtime’s tight deadline. They needed the microsite within a month! As an HTML developer, I don’t know if we would have been able to take on this project and arrive at the same level of quality. Muse made it possible for us to use more of our design team, not just those familiar with HTML. We had our non-interactive designers create and modify layouts so that our interactive team could work on the harder interactive tasks.

Adobe Muse Screenshot

Muse is incorporated into the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software, so the cost to get started is nothing more than the standard monthly subscription. And because it’s a cloud-based application Adobe is constantly implementing updates and improvements, often based on feedback from users like us.

SWB: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating your site using Adobe Muse?

Demitri: Since we were working with Showtime’s print team, we had to bring in other media rich features — like specific video functionality, custom fonts and javascript — that Muse didn’t support at the time. We accomplished this and further extended the capabilities of Muse by exporting the full html site and incorporating our own custom code. Also, we built the microsite using Adobe’s 32-bit release, which started to show its limitations as the site grew larger and more complex. Fortunately, Adobe has since released a 64-bit version that is better suited to a project of this scale and scope.

SWB: What advice would you offer to aspiring designers and young entrepreneurs?

Demitri: Clients look to designers to innovate their communication. Keep them up to date on the latest design and tech developments, and explain to them how it affects their projects. They will eventually see you as a trusted expert, and be more willing to experiment when the opportunity arises. Showtime had an idea of what they wanted, but did not know how to go about achieving that goal. They knew we had strong skills in Adobe DPS, so when we offered the solution, it didn’t seem like a risk, but rather the logical answer.