In the world of corporate music, official band Web sites can often seem like little more than online ads for the latest album or single, shamed into irrelevance by unofficial fanboy sites. Franz Ferdinand, Scotland’s finest export since Claire Grogan and deep fried Mars bars, hope to have broken the mold with the relaunch of their own Web site.
In recent weeks the band's home page has been updated regularly, bucking the industry trend of dormant, stagnant sites. News blogs, lyrics, screen-savers and photos have been added with exclusive video footage promised. A recent update shows the band huddled around a pair of laptops. Apple logos illuminated, all four members firm Mac fans.
The talented team behind the relaunched site is DS.Emotion, an independent digital agency with bases in both Leeds and London, fast gaining a reputation for outstanding work. Formed in Leeds in 1990 the company is currently celebrating a successful first full year in London. DS.Emotion’s busy portfolio also includes SkyBet, Sony, Universal Music, Nickelodeon, Orange, Tate & Lyle, Jaguar, Vodafone, Nintendo GameCube, Dunlop and the Carnaby Street area of London. In Leeds the company focus on above the line activity, including design and advertising, while the London office focus exclusively on digital marketing for consumer and entertainment brands. A separate division called DS.Games is also planned, and will focus solely on creating online games, which forms around half of the agency's digital business. Areas of expertise includes print, web, games, mobile, viral, DM, video, DVD, CD Rom and advertising.
Like Franz Ferdinand, DS.Emotion are major Apple fans. Chris Hassell, New Media Director at DS.Emotion spoke to Macworld from a busy Clerkenwell office and from the back of a London cab via the wonders of wireless technology.
How do Macs benefit DS.Emotion?
For a start we find that most of the best designers we come across have been trained on Macs, so it makes sense for us to use Macs, being design driven.
We get a massive array of different image formats sent to us from clients and other agencies. We very rarely have problems opening any. Also, many of the account handlers can open most of these formats in Preview - therefore not needing a copy of PhotoShop.
We also share calendars using iCal, and most of us use Mail, Address Book and iCal so we have good integration of data across people and applications.
With our New Media based work involving more and more video - through the uptake of broadband - it just makes sense to use Macs!
What's your office set-up?
About 5 PCs with about 30 Macs. 25 of these are now running OS X. Probably about 15 on Jaguar and 10 on Panther.
Half of our machines - all of them on the account handling side - are now laptops, a mixture of Titanium and Aluminum PowerBooks and iBooks.
We have two OS X G4 Servers - both 10.3 - 1 in London and one in Leeds. We are moving London offices to bigger premises in September, which will allow us more freedom with our Internet connection so we are looking at linking the 2 servers via a VPN.
Both offices are fully wireless with AirPort, and many of us have it at home as well, so we can simply open our PowerBooks and be online wherever we happen to be.
What is the biggest improvement Apple have made since DS.Emotion was founded in 1990?
Laptops/Mobile. This is obviously an industry-wide change, but we feel Apple have led the way. We now have access to our computers - and the Internet - wherever we are. I'm writing this in the back of a cab - the amount of Wi-Fi spots
I'm picking up throughout London is amazing! We're heavy users of Bluetooth as well, not only for going online through our mobiles, but for iSync and controlling DVDs from bed using Salling Clicker!
OS X would have to be in there as well - it's just so much more compatible, a joy to use and so much more stable than OS9 - shame the same can't be said for some applications - Macromedia!
Are Macs still better than PCs for your kind of work?
In terms of quality, usability, aesthetics and sheer joy I'd say Macs are still way ahead. The main problem convincing people to buy a Mac is the cost. Sometimes there's just no arguing with someone who simply wants a computer to do Word Processing and Email and can get a PC for £400. But you do get what you pay for.
Within our industry Macs still appear to be the driving force. But it is amazing that more and more designers are being trained on PCs.
When producing a Web site on a Mac do you still face any compatibility problems?
When you deal with bands such as Franz Ferdinand, how much input does the band have?
Franz Ferdinand are on a great independent label (Domino) who allow them complete creative control. So the band work very closely with us on the look and functionality that the site will have. They're great at listening to our new ideas for the site though - when they have time!
Franz Ferdinand are also big Mac users?
Yes, they use Macs to store their photos and video, as well as video iChat with us from Hotel rooms. Look out for new developments on the web site (www.franzferdinand.co.uk) that will utilise the footage that the band have been recording from around the world!
Tell us about the Carnaby Street Web site you have recently launched.
The new Web site was designed using Macromedia Fireworks on a 1.8Ghz G5. We have designed it to be more community focused on Carnaby Street and the surrounding Carnaby area rather than simply a list of shops. Many events take place there, and the site needed to reflect this constantly changing activity. There is also a newsletter that gets sent every week informing registered users of what's going on. We always make sure the HTML works in OS X Mail!
It's a difficult thing to quantify as Carnaby St was/is the 60s to a lot of people, so what's wrong with that? After losing it's way a little in the 80s/90s there are now many independent and trendy retailers there, the same kind of companies that defined the area in the 60s. It featured in an episode of The Simpsons recently, so that has to be good!
Have you encountered any problems running both a Leeds and London office?
No, obviously with the changes the Internet has had on business location is no longer such an issue. We setup the London office primarily to service clients better, but we're also finding great talent in London, so it makes sense to take on the studio resource there as well. iChat is great for transferring files - even between computers in the same office!
DS.Emotion is celebrating its first year in London; does a North/South divide still exist?
I think there's still a bit of snobbery towards London agencies, but it isn't as bad as it used to be. We have a bit of banter between the offices - but it's all in jest, and not repeatable here!
What improvements would you like to see from the forthcoming Tiger Mac OS X 10.4 upgrade?
Home on iPod.
Better Mail with more formatting options.
What’s next for DS.Emotion?
We're looking into increasing our presence in the games industry, starting off with some plans we have for online games. But in the next year it's the growth the projects and our profile in New Media.