Well I’ve been at Microsoft for almost three years, and now things are *really* getting fun! Starting now I’m going to start talking about the experience, both so my friends and family that I left behind in the bay area can keep tabs, and so that I can share my excitement for what we are doing here with the broader design community of “UX professionals”—our own term to describe those creative and technical pros involved in the conception, design, and implementation of next generation end-user experiences on the web, the desktop, and beyond.
As my friends and former colleagues know, I spent the majority of my early career working in the film industry: as an animator, editor, and post-production supervisor for television commercials, music videos, and visual effects. After spending time at Industrial Light & Magic for a few years I became very interested in the business aspects of the tools that we used in production—Discreet Logic’s Flame/Inferno solution, Aldus’ Software’s After Effects, the kick-butt 3D tools of the day such as Electric Image and Softimage, and of course my biggest passion, the Avid Media Composer (I was an early employee of Avid during my college years and had built my career to date on my power-user skills with the system). One of the visual effects supervisors at the company, Scott Squires, had cooked up a little desktop application he called “Flipbook”, and together he and I decided to set up a company to productize the tool as Puffin Design’s Commotion. Commotion went on to be a success within the high-end broadcast and film effects market, and ever since I’ve been involved in the creative professional tools space.
Puffin was bought by Pinnacle Systems, where I continued to work on broadcast and early HD television hardware solutions. I then ended up at Macromedia on the Flash product line where I had the pleasure of working with the interactive and web professional community, and I really fell in love with the notion of “convergence” of the traditional media medium I was familiar with, and the emerging programmability and interactivity that was showing itself to be rapidly approaching on the web and desktop applications that each and everyday are looking more like the systems in Spielberg’s “Minority Report” film. I’m particularly proud of the work that I did with colleagues Tinic Uro (engineering), Chris Hock (server product management), and Evan Berg (biz development) (along with many others of course, but these three are most fondly remembered by me today) to create the Flash Video Platform – which combined improved authoring, deployment, and ease of use to really accelerate video adoption on the web, particularly for interactive scenarios.
One of the engineering managers on the Flash team, Gilles Drieu, returned one week from the Microsoft PDC conference and shared with me a demo that he had seen wherein Adobe After Effects was used to output this new markup language called “XAML”, and then Windows magically was able to render a rich multimedia representation of the experience, in realtime, on hardware rendering… the idea that such skills (those of my own, as a advanced AE user) and a yet to be released Windows technology would allow for a realtime design experience for actual applications… I was hooked. Sight unseen mind you, as I actually didn’t actually see that famed After Effects demo until a year later, after I had already gotten my Washington state drivers license and adjusted to the “wetter” climate up here in pacnorwest.
So all so briefly, in a nutshell that is why I am here at Microsoft. I’ll elaborate more very shortly as I speak about the various platform, tools, and ecosystem initiatives I’ve been working on with an incredibly team of folks…