The Power of Ideas, Brainstorming and Collaboration
The term “Graphic User Interface” didn’t exist when I produced “What is a Bellybutton.” Based on a successful Children’s book, the project involved producing a CD-ROM title for Time Life for Children that would be sold at Toys R Us stores.
With a tight production schedule, quick decisions were required. I invited decision makers to participate in a 3-day off-site meeting, where we mocked up and tested GUIs for kids, and agreed to the navigation and design.
The CD-ROM was produced in chapters, with weekly reviews with our clients in Washington DC. Clients sat in on audio and music recording sessions.
The original illustrations were used as a starting point. All character’s voices were “lip synced” with the animations. A dozen great workers put it all together using MacroMedia Director.
Both titles made it to market on-time and on-budget. Both received industry accolades, competing well against Bruderbund and Microsoft titles.
The Whole Story
The term “Graphic User Interface” didn’t exist when I produced “What is a Bellybutton.” Our project involved making a CD-ROM title for Time Life for Children. This was one of the first titles designed for preschoolers. It had to work intuitively for kids. So, we mocked up some samples and invited some kids to experiment. It worked.
Over the course of a three-day off-site brainstorming session, we outlined every chapter and action, developed characters, agreed on the User Interface, created a demo to present in Washington DC to Time Life, and outlined the time frame required to get it delivered in six months.
Sidebar: Virtual Communications was a company created by Michael “Chino” Yap and myself to produce this title and more. We hired the graduating class of students in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to work with us. It proved to be a great move – these students (from around the world) already knew and had worked with each other for months, they understood how to use our core software: PhotoShop and MacroMedia Director, and they were all really willing to be gainfully employed immediately after graduation.
IVI Publishing negotiated the rights to content from two Time Life for Children books about the human body. “What is a Bellybutton” and “Welcome to Bodyland” were to become IVI Publishing’s premier CD-ROM titles. The company’s first title, “Mayo Clinic Family Health Book CD-ROM,” had taken 18 months to complete – an acceptable time frame. These two children’s titles needed to be produced in nine months or less. They also had to look exciting, work flawlessly, and engage children in computer “edutainment.” They had to compete with titles from Broderbund, the leading CD-ROM publisher.
I partnered with Michael (Chino) Yap and formed “Virtual Communications” a development company that could complete the projects on time and on budget while infusing creativity into the project at every opportunity. We hired most of the graduating new media class of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and put them to work – around the clock for five months. Each title included original music, artwork and animations, games, and more.
Both titles made it to market on-time and on-budget. Both received industry accolades, competing well against Bruderbund and Microsoft titles. Both were featured at IVI Publishing’s shareholder meeting as a demonstration of the company’s titles. Both were sold nationally at Toys R Us.
Sidebar: Producing these titles got me an invitation to TED and an experience of a lifetime. Time Life for Children passed out free CD-ROMs.