Open Innovation + Digital Catapult

I recently met some people form Digital Catapult UK. I was blown away by their core value of ‘open innovation’. The ‘openness’ comes comes with inherent risks and benefits that both sides must understand, but it is designed to encourage ‘serendipitous innovation’. In a world of patents and trademarks, they believe: “You can benefit from ideas that you do not own.”

He had a beautiful quote that I think describes what innovation teams within large organisations should do:

“We are here to start movements that will grow on their own. We are here to create self-sustained ripples.”

ABOUT Digital Catapult: a not-for-profit organization with a trading division. They have been tasked with a target of growing the British Economy. They started from scratch 18 months ago and are primarily funded by Government, but their goal is to have a third of their income come from the industry to balance out their dependency on any one body.

  • Industry needs to “bring challenges to them”
  • Connected to 2,500 innovators (new name for start-ups and entrepreneurs)
  • Digital Catapult run about 1-event per day and their target is innovators
  • They can also doo proof of concept/product prototyping
  • They are located in the R&D quarter (King’s Cross)

Their Innovation Focus is on how companies get value from their data (including secondary/tertiary value from data) in these four areas: 

  1. Personal data (Banking, browsing)
  2. Closed corporate data (banks, new value)
  3. Licensed data (Creative content, IP)
  4. Machine generated data (IOT)

You should check them out and their work in the UK innovation space!

GOV.UK has some good Design Principles.

Government Digital Service in the UK outlines their design principles – which I think are applicable beyond their remit.

  1. Start with needs
  2. Do less
  3. Design with data
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple
  5. Iterate. Then iterate again.
  6. This is for everyone
  7. Understand context
  8. Build digital services, not websites
  9. Be consistent, not uniform
  10. Make things open: it makes things better

**Side note: I am increasingly loving the word design in a business model/consumer-focused context. 

Am I able to give career advice? I’m only 22 after all.

I’ve been helping out at my old university – King’s College London – with their careers and employability office. A couple weeks ago, I went in to speak to current undergraduate and masters students at a career festival for the Film Studies program. After graduating in July, I now have 7 months of experience through my full-time job in a media agency. Walking down the all-too-familiar corridors created an interesting sensation:

Here I was in the exact same location and it’s very clear that it’s me who has changed and not the environment. In fact, the architecture, smell, feel, and people looked exactly the same as last year (when I was attending this career fair as a hopeful final year student). But this time, there was a different confident stride in my steps, not one of getting a first, but one of having job security figured out.

Most of the students were there looking for a way into the film industry. In that respect, I was their counter example of someone who veered away from the ‘artistic’ satisfaction of the creative arts for the more corporate world of marketing and advertising. I think speaking to the students was just as informative for me as it was for them. Nevertheless, I stood tall and explained my role and plans for the future in the business world.

Two weeks after the speaking event, the careers office asked me to write a blog post for them. And it finally came out, so I thought I’d share it (which was the point of my whole rant above). Enjoy:

http://blogs.thecareersgroup.co.uk/humanities/a-case-study-in-digital-advertising/

It offers some insights and advice to university students trying to figure out what they want to do after graduating by drawing on my own experiences of job hunting/soul searching.

I obviously still have so much to learn about the world of work: what skills are most employable, how to change jobs, how to progress, how to balance work/life, etc. However, I still feel that I can offer advice and help to university students, especially because the experience of transitioning lifestyles is still so fresh in my memories. It’s important for people to stay in touch with university students as they progress in their careers because, essentially, those students are the future of the work force. Their desires, mentality, and capabilities are a direct reflection of generational changes, economic situations, and cultural values. And it’s very hard to know what the future holds if you don’t understand the people that will be working it because let’s be honest, most business are people-led first and foremost. So an understanding of the younger work generation is ALWAYS key to any company that wants to grow.

Full-Time Working Gal … in a Media Agency.

Ahhh… the bliss of Sunday! After my first two weeks of work, I have re-found my love of weekend relaxation. DSCN4644

I’m currently employed by Starcom MediaVest Group – a media agency – as a graduate media trainee in their London office. The program is a 13 week rotation scheme in order to gain exposure to different aspects of the business! The basis of media agencies, although difficult to explain at times, is their position between brands and consumers. The agency acts as the liaison between their clients [ ex. CineWorld ] and media owners [ex. The Guardian ]. With the data-driven research and expert knowledge, media agencies solve business problems through marketing campaigns. 

As a media planner…. here are some of the typical questions you would have to ask/answer:

1. From all the data on consumer behaviours, what is the one simple, meaningful insight into your target audience?

2. How can you use different media channels [press, radio, TV, outdoor, digital…] to create one unified message for the consumer? What do you want your brand experience to be? 

3. How well is your campaign performing? Can you optimise the budget to maximise the return on investment?

4. How are you going to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time? 

Starcom-MediaVest

Thus far, media as a career path has only been positive! The industry is extremely young [ the average employee age is around 29 ] and very fast-paced [ with digital technology, the rate of change is faster than ever ]. The work is intellectually stimulating and heavily relies on communication and networking skills within the small world of brand managers and media owners. Despite being a niche speciality, there is plenty of opportunities for travel and career mobility. As an arts and humanities graduate, I was lost in the sea of Google search results which suggested I would never find a job. But they were wrong. I love my job. [ SMG has ‘hot desking’, running clubs during lunch, chalkboard walls, free cappuccinos, and hilarious brainstorming sessions.] At the moment, it’s not very well-paid, but hey, you gotta start somewhere! And in 5 years time, I’ll have the expertise, the salary, and the happiness. How about that? 

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

-Earl Nightingale

An extract from the introduction of my Film Studies Dissertation (King’s College London)…

This dissertation is situates within the growing research around the stylistic use of digital technology and new media in contemporary cinema. My main area of investigation will be the virtual camera in narrative computer-animated films, with a precise interest in musical cinematography. The term ‘musical’ refers to the narrative premise of analysing song or dance sequences, while the term ‘cinematography’ refers to the stylistic and aesthetic form of the camerawork. The musical context provides a point of consistency across the films and sequences chosen for formal analysis, thereby providing a lineage between different production methods and styles. Prince argues that that digital technology builds “on stylistic traditions established by filmmakers in earlier generations … while providing new and more powerful tools to accomplish these ends.”[1] Likewise this dissertation will explore the stylistic developments in computer-animated films in relation to past cinematic traditions.

This investigation is structured around the aim of outlining and testing the term ‘digital cine-mobility,’ as a cinematic style, through comparisons with established stylistic traditions. Chapter One will explore the visual effects of cel-animation and computer-animation in relation to the Walt Disney Animation Studio. Chapter Two will study the moving camera of the American film musical. And finally, Chapter Three will scrutinize the term ‘digital cine-mobility,’ which we will initially define as, the selection of fantastical, playful, and impossible camera movements in computer-animated films. The concept of digital cine-mobility is framed around a lively camera that presents spatially dynamic, effortlessly integrated, and kinetically expressive movements. The aim of this investigation is to progressively examine, and attempt to define, the descriptive terms above.

[1]  Stephen Prince, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 4-5.

Chocolate can bring back to life Audrey Hepburn! How morally acceptable is that?

Well, the digital revolution of character creation using digital computer software has finally been applied to television commercials. This Audrey Hepburn is life-like, organic, and beautifully lit. Visual Special Effects technology has come a long way since the awkward looking gaming characters that were not quite realistic enough. Initially, I like this ad because I’m a fan of Hepburn’s work.

Although there is something unsettling about bringing back Hepburn through digital technology. It seems that now more than ever before, people are loosing the ability to control their public image. How is it possible that a company can use Hepburn’s image to add to her persona without her written legal consent? I understand that celebrities are media constructs that are separate from the actual person, but nevertheless, it is the celebrities image that is at stake. I understand if it’s a fictional character based on a look-a-like, but this was intentioned to be Hepburn – her look, performance, aura, everything. If we can start bringing back celebrities from classical Hollywood, how will that change celebrity endorsements? And who will chose which advertisements the dead celebrities will star in? Will VFX threaten ‘the self’ image in today’s digital world?

Conclusion: Amazing, but unsettling