The experience is the message
Schematic spent a decade helping clients like Coca-Cola, Walt Disney and Target make their marks on the Web. Still, it remained "this plucky little boutique shop that nobody had heard of," says chief technology officer Matthew Rechs, who has been with the company almost since its inception.
In September 2007, London-based WPP Digital acquired the interactive agency, and suddenly everyone took notice of Schematic. "Now we're on the map," Rechs says. "There has been all of this press, and people know what we do here. When I go and meet clients, and I try to show them our presentation, they're like, 'We've seen this stuff.' They know our work, and that's an amazing thing."
Funnily enough, Schematic isn't doing anything different than it did before WPP entered the picture. The company, which has offices throughout the United States and in London and Costa Rica, remains autonomous, Rechs says, and simply continues its tradition of combining technical prowess with attractive, user-friendly design to produce rich, branded experiences for the Web and beyond. Leadership includes CEO Trevor Kaufman, president Nick Worth and chief creative officer Dale Herigstad.
Some highlights from 2008: In the development realm, Schematic was one of the first developers included in Yahoo and Intel's Widget Channel initiative, which will introduce TV widgets designed to bring additional content, community features and personalization to the TV-viewing experience. Meanwhile, among numerous other projects on the Web front, Schematic created the PGA Tour Shot Tracker, a nifty graphical, live scoring application for Turner Sports and PGAtour.com that provides the golf-obsessed with real-time shot trails, ball locations and statistics.
But Schematic's standout accomplishment in 2008 came in the form of a revolutionary Web video player produced on NBColympics.com using Microsoft's Silverlight 2 as a platform. "The combination of their vision for design and user experience ... enabled us to deliver among the most robust viewing experiences in the history of live Internet broadcasting," says Perkins Miller, senior vice president of digital media for NBC Sports and Olympics.
The Web video player gave sports fans truly unprecedented access to the Games, providing 2,200 hours of live, streaming video from NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and offering users a tremendous amount of control over how they viewed that video, including simultaneous access to multiple streams from an event, with varying camera angles; the ability to tap into expert commentary, results and athlete information while watching those feeds; and a picture-in-picture feature that let fans view one sport on an inset window while watching another sport on the full screen.
Remarkably, the Web video player functioned flawlessly with no malfunctions or glitches, Rechs says.
In addition to serving sports fans well, Schematic also delighted South Park aficionados - not to mention the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and their network partner, Comedy Central - by designing southparkstudios.com. A veritable playground for South Park fans, the site not only provides full and free access to every episode of the animated series but also tools that fans can use to create South Park avatars, syndicate clips and edit their own scene mixes.
It was a big hit. Within a week of its beta launch in mid-March, southparkstudios.com had received more than 3 million page views, 2 million video plays and 1 million streams of full episodes.
Offering fans total immersion in - and some control over - their favorite show, SouthParkStudios is indicative of the type of Web work that sets Schematic apart from other interactive agencies. "We aren't just selling products. We make digital destinations," Rechs says. "And they are experiences that people actually seek out."