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Lights... Camera... Design! Posted on 01/23/2002.

Scott Berkun puts forth an argument analogizing interaction design and filmmaking, stressing the importance of collaboration. Given my interest in film, I've often considered the filmmaking model as potentially informative for my work. A while ago, I discussed it in the context of experience design (Scroll to April 15).

Scott's discussion begins well, but falls down when addressing what I consider to be the crux of issue, which is the role of director. He states that often project managers find themselves in that role, but that's not true--they're more in the role of the film producer, the ones managing budget and resources.

The film director is an ultimately creative role, and is the person most responsible for the project's vision. I think Scott's analysis breaks down because it's extremely uncommon to find a single person solely responsible for the creative vision of an interactive product. Which is a shame, because the best projects I've worked on had just that... There were usually two project leads, one a more administrative lead (the project manager) and the other the creative lead (the creative director).

Now, as Scott points out, everyone wants to direct. He mis-addresses the issue, though, by stating that each discipline wishes it was the director on some particular project. In film, the role of the director is distinct from all the other craft roles--it's not like the DP wishes it was the director or the editor wishes it was the director on this project. The recognize that in the project at hand, they're responsible for their particular area, and that someone else will stitch it all together. The magic of the filmmaking process is recognizing the need for this leader.

One interesting thing about the director analogy is that, in filmmaking, directors can emerge from any discipline, but the best prove themselves to have some facility with all the filmmaking disciplines. Some started as writers, other as editors, other as title-card-designers (Hitchcock), some as actors. It's less important which discipline they came from, than their ability to synthesize the collaborative efforts across disciplines. The same is true in interaction design--I've worked with brilliant creative leads from writing, graphic design, user research, and information architecture backgrounds.

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Previous entry: "iPod IA and design."
Next entry: "Be True To Your (Public) School."


When comparing the performing arts and interactive design one can do worse than to revisit Brenda Laurels often ignored 'The Computer as Theatre". I'll see what Scott has to say when I find a moment...
Posted by Joe 10 @ 01/23/2002 07:46 PM PST [link to this comment]

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