Schematic Redefining User Experience

While there is endless buzz surrounding new video formats and content delivery methods for digital media, user experience and the visual interface, a critical component of online video is rarely discussed in context.

At the IP Media Expo in New York last week I had the opportunity to sit down with executives from Schematic, the interactive agency responsible for the most innovative experiences on the web. Schematic designed the player for ABC and more recently the full episode portal for FOX.

With so much new content being published on so many screens, Schematic’s Chief Strategy Officer Kurt Kratchman told me they are facing an “insatiable demand.”

Schematic, which was acquired last month by WPP, has in a matter of years transformed itself into a major force in digital media by making by online video accessible. They have done so by starting with relationships and mapping the way that people use technology in all of its forms.

We use that lens of 1ft 2ft 1oft and beyond. It used to be linear but now it’s interactive and you’re moving content on so many different screens, what’s the right medium, the right paradigm? That’s where Dale, he’s an expert of understanding dimensional navigation and spatial navigation and he’s invented a lot of paradigms for that.

Dale Herigstad is Schematic’s Chief Creative Officer who, in his more than two decades in the industry has spanned the life of CGI and motion graphics. Most recently he worked on interfaces for the XBox 360 and Microsoft Surface in addition to designing FOX and ABC’s online video portals. Remember that scene in Minority Report where users move objects on a screen by gesture? He had a role in that too.

Schematic is a company that operates in the now; most of their projects are in a time frame of 12-18 months, and Herigstad said that he sees greater interaction and advanced television interfaces coming very quickly both to broadband and to cable set top boxes.

“I really have high standards, I think the audience wants really rich looking things. I’ve done so much work in the last ten years, just painfully around enhanced television and programming…and that’s been such a slow thing because of the technology, I really think a lot of what we were doing then is actually happening in broadband right now.”

For online video, fragmented by technology and format limitations, Schematic works with content distributors to determine the best solution for user experience and monetization. “Our job is to pick the best of breed, and to work with who those best of breed are” said Kratchman.

The web is becoming a richer, non-linear platform for interaction, the interface for which is a screen. Every piece of content will soon be available for interaction on every other type of digital device. Pulling in dynamic online content for use in HD-DVD for instance, or mapping relationships between people using mobile devices in such a way that users can be delivered relevant information they may not have known existed.

Schematic and other design companies sit between the content distributor and the end-user improving the way entertainment and information are consumed while creating a richer more valuable experience for both consumers and broadcast networks.

Linear web interaction will give way to world of information made more valuable in context with all other data. Schematic is leading the charge to design the user experience that will make this next generation of digital interaction accessible to everyone.