Name/nickname: Shane Seminole Mielke / Pixelranger
Location: Southern California, USA
Current Projects: XS Engineering, Ford Motor Company Screensavers, Creativenergy, Chrisrix.com
Favorite Movies: Dune, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan
Favorite Videos: VAST-Pretty When You Cry
001 - Interview
+ Do you have any kind of great visions concerning the future of internet?
I am honestly not at the point in my career where I can think in such broad terms as that. I think there are only a handful of people in the design community who are really in that position or have the creativity to do so. My only vision of the future is for myself. I hope to continue to grow as a designer and keep cultivating my own "vision" and "voice" and growing into being the best person and designer I can be.
+ Do you think design sites such as surfstation.lu, designiskinky.net, 77trouver.com, and other similar sites really have something to give to the audience? Do you visit such sites?
I have visited all of those sites that you listed and a handful more like: Ultrashock, Newstoday, Were-Here and Flashkit. I visit a couple of the message boards to find out what the hottest sites are, and also to see what people have to say about my site. I think these sites are very powerful tools that have a lot to offer other designers in terms of inspiration and keeping up with what is going on. I announced my site on Ultrashock.com and within one week I was lucky enough to win a couple of highly regarded awards, I was being posted about on all of those sites, I got this interview with 77trouver.com, and my site traffic has been averaging approximately 5000 visitors a day since. That alone shows that sites like 77trouver.com are powerful portals and have something to offer to both their visitors and members.
+ Into what direction do you see web design trends evolving?
I think that the next big trend in the design community will be the combination of video & flash into enhanced web experiences. Since all of the tools are available to just about anyone who wants to experiment with them, more and more people are raising the bar in both the flash and video communities. While I do not think this design trend will spread to all of the informational websites out on the web I do think it will be a trend that we will see growing in the entertainment and portfolio sites. Especially as more and more users gain access to broadband internet connections at home and not just their work computers.
+ What are your recommended websites?
If I were to recommend a Flash resource site, I would say that www.ultrashock.com is by far the best out there. The moderators there are the best and brightest in the field of actionscripting and responses are lightning quick. Aside from that I recommend visiting the sites of my close friends and co-workers who continually inspire, guide and critique everything that I create. Douglas Arthur www.douglasarthur.com, Yasuto Suga, www.rayoflight.net, Ricardo Luevanos www.sindikit.com, Ken Donnellan www.platinumspade.com and Eric Jordan www.2advanced.com.
+ What single thing would most improve the web from a creative/design point of view?
I think design on the web could be improved with more collaboration and open mindedness amongst designers in the community. There is way too much bickering, too many egocentric ideals, and way too much negativity. There is a rather large group of people out there who seem to think they know it all and have seen it all before and are very closed minded. All this negativity results in the fact that a lot of younger designers are afraid to do anything different or even show their new designs because they think it will be overly criticized rather than someone helping them. I also see a growing trend that people criticize anything that isn't something new and revolutionary. Although I respect something that is new and fresh I also respect work that sticks with an existing style and does a better job with it than they did before.
+ Where do you get your ideas from?
I learned a lot from Eric Jordan since we've been working together. Many of the sites I worked on while we were together at Design Insites together were designed with his style and motion because the client came to use wanting that particular look & feel. Now that I am doing work for 2advanced, Eric is really trying to get me to develop my own style and vision for each project rather than using one particular style. When you sit down and break apart the FLA of a guy who has inspired so many, you learn a lot and get ideas from things that he has done. Many times I try and come with an effect for a client that I think would impress him.
My other mentor has been Douglas Arthur. He has continually challenged and motivated me to develop my skills and get better at designing. My biggest struggle has been deviating from the design style I have been required to do for clients from the things that I want to create. More than anything I am motivated by the fact someday I want to wow him with something I have created. My desire to wow these two masters has helped me to try and really put a lot of attention to detail into everything that I do and continually try new ideas.
+ Exactly how long have you been in the business doing design-related stuff in the Internet?
I started doing HTML for websites in 1996 after graduating from college. I mastered all things HTML and slowly learned Photoshop with the mentoring of my close friend Douglas Arthur. In 1999 I got a job as a senior designer with a company that handled the Mazda USA website. This is where I really started focusing on being a designer instead of an HTML guy. HTML is very structural and logical while design is a completely different open minded mentality. Designing is much more difficult and you have to be open to all ideas and influences when brainstorming on different concepts and layouts. It has been really hard for me to do but I feel that with the release of Pixelranger.com I have really started to come into my own with just letting ideas flow.
+ What kind of education do you have?
I graduated from the University of California at Davis with a BA in Rhetoric and Communications and a minor in German. I have no formal art or design training other than what I have learned from others and from just analyzing things others have done.
+ What programs/technics do you use?
The only programs I have used on sites lately have been Photoshop 7, Flash MX, Soundforge 5, and Swift 3D 2.0. I am slowly getting into using After Effects and 3D Studio Max in my spare time. Sometimes it is hard to find time to experiment with new programs amidst my hectic schedule of spending time with my wife, work, coaching American Football and life in general.
+ Do you also have some kind of background in traditional arts such as painting, drawing, music etc?
As a kid, I grew up drawing, sketching and tracing all sorts of pictures and objects ranging from nature, people, animals and even anime. I also took piano lessons and played in a couple of recitals but never really enjoyed it because I was forced into taking the lessons. In retrospect I wish I had stuck with the piano since the latest toy I want to purchase would be a synthesizer to create more music for my sites on. When I got to college I traded the piano for a guitar and was lucky enough to play in a couple of talent shows and even a cover band for a while with some other guys on the football team. I never really took any guitar lessons and really just picked everything up by practice and hard work. Design has been the same way for me.
+ You have a nice list of big companies in your client list. Do you prefer to do work with big or small clients. Is there a difference between the ways you can work with them?
I like working with both Big and small clients. I think the best thing with smaller clients is that I am allowed to do everything on the project from start to finish without the help of anyone else. Since I have been doing websites for quite a while I really enjoy handling all aspects of building a website. Design, HTML, Scripting, Flash, Database Stuff, etc… I love geeking out on it everything. With larger clients, the sites are usually much bigger and have compressed timelines so there are more people involved in the project, and everyone usually only has only one task or aspect to take care of. With the Mazda USA website work, I would do the design and others people on the team would cut it up and do all the HTML, browser compatibility, programming and integration. I never really liked that and always jumped at any projects where I could handle everything myself. I still love working with a team of people but I get a better sense of accomplishment when I can do everything on a site myself.
+ Do you use 3d elements only in your websites or are you also into animation?
I have always been fascinated with 3D and anything that deals with depth and perspective. When possible I always like to create sites with some sort of depth to them rather than just flat sites made up of collages of pictures. Even a simple shadow to lift a graphic off the page makes a difference in my mind. I think this is most evident with my site where I tried to create depth with the visuals and accentuate it with the wireframes as the site grows and reveals itself. Another example is the intro I created for the Varadox Group website. In it I tried to create a feeling of depth as certain pieces fade to the background and other objects focus in the foreground.
+ Hit us with a word or two about your genesis project? When will the three additional scenes become available? How did you carry out the whole thing, what programs did you use etc.?
The genesis project will not be limited to 4 scenes. Those 4 scenes simply represent the photography that has already been completed. I am 50% done with the animations and sounds for both the 2nd and 3rd scenes of the 4 shown. I have the photos stiched together and have begun the Photoshop work that will be animated in flash to bring the scenes to life. I have also begun the creation and recording of the sounds for both scenes. In the future I would like to add more scenes and even create a scene completely in a 3d program and try and make it so real that people cannot tell it was not a photo.
Basically the formula for the Genesis project is: 1.) Find a unique photo opportunity. 2.) Take a series of pictures forming a panoramic snapshot of the location 3.) Scan them, stich them by hand and color correct everything in Photoshop. 4.) Create the graphics for the various animations of the scene using only Photoshop (for example, all of the lights in the first scene were created in Photoshop and not from additional pictures taken at the location). 5.) Find or create the sounds necessary to further add realism to the scene. 6.) Animate all of the bitmaps in Flash. 7) Import the sounds into the sound engine which I have constructed to handle the rotation of the sounds in flash.
+ The TRANSITION section in your own site also mentions you are going to use Adobe After Effects and 3d studio MAX in your websites. Do you think Internet is ready for fluid motion video and broadband multimedia on websites?
I want to use those programs so that I remain on the cutting edge of what everyone is experimenting with, rather than being limited to just Web Design & Flash. Once I have a better understanding of all the work that goes into After Effects and 3D Studio Max pieces, I hope to be able to utilize it in any personal work or client work where it makes sense to be used. I do not thing that your average website or that the average website visitor is prepared for a broadband experience on a website. Content is still the king of any website and video and 3D work is still more of an entertainment/TV/Movie medium than anything else. Unless it is a designer portfolio site, or maybe a movie/entertainment company site I do not think that video integrated into a site is necessary or ever will be necessary.