Novedge: Tell us about yourself and your what you do. Luca Prasso: My name is Luca Prasso. I was born in Turin (Italy) and lived in Verona where I was able to merge my passion for art with my new love for computers. I started making digital images around 1985 and never stopped. In 1995 I moved to California to join PDI (that soon became part of DreamWorks) as Character Technical Director. I was the Supervisor on Shrek and worked on pretty much every movie we produced at DreamWorks until 2012 when I left to start Curious Hat with Nadia Andreini and Erwan Maigret. We focused on creating innovative mobile apps for kids.
In October 2014 I joined a special group at Google ATAP called Spotlight Stories where we push the boundaries of interactive storytelling on mobile.
Novedge: What is Interactive Storytelling . Can you give us an example?
Luca Prasso: We are exploring new visual languages on mobile where we empower the viewer with the control of the camera while the storyteller pushes the envelope of new story mechanics.
Glen Keane's Duet, is the story of a boy and a girl that meet multiple times during their life. Every time they meet, the viewer has a seamless opportunity to follow one or another. This way the viewer can see the story evolve from different points of view. Novedge: How did you get where you are now? What is your background?
Luca Prasso: After high school I fell in love with computer graphic and it was difficult (in the mid '80s) to pursue these kind of studies so I started working in a small studio in Verona where I created mostly flying logos. I'm a mix between an artist and a coder, always in search of new stimuli in every area.
Novedge: Curious Hat is one of the many hats you wear; would you care to talk a little bit about it?
Luca Prasso: Curious Hat was created because we felt kids could engage with the real world around them using mobile devices. We also felt that adult (parents, educators) should be part of the child experience on mobile (a sticky point that does not have much traction in today's app store).
In 3 years we grew to 1.25 millions organic downloads, the vast majority generated by Apple featuring all our apps prominently in the App Store. We kept the group very small (myself and Erwan on the technical side, Nadia as Creative Director) and surrounded ourselves with artists that collaborated on individual projects.
Novedge: What does it take to develop an app or, in your case, multiple ones?
Luca Prasso: Love, passion, money. We are kind of stubborn and always developed apps that we felt were not a copycat of existing success stories in the Store, pursuing our original vision.
We were rewarded by Apple and educators that awarded us many times, but in these days and age monetization is very difficult in the store for indie developers.
Novedge: What software do you use at Curious Hat?
Luca Prasso: We code natively with Xcode for iOS. We use all the artistic tools available (Adobe CC). Despite having spent most of our life working in 3D, none of our apps really used 3D models or characters. We have done some research and prototypes with Unity3D.
Novedge: How has your experience at Dreamworks helped you in your professional choices today?
Luca Prasso: PDI/DreamWorks's experience was critical because, in 1995, we were on the forefront of CG. Toy Story was just released and we were trying to figure out how to make a full CG movie ourselves. We felt like pioneers, we had a powerful proprietary software and an amazing R&D department. Many of us are now exploring different related fields (AR, VR, etc.) as the film business is going through a tough period and new opportunities arise. Novedge: What would you tell to a young artist just starting out in this line of business ?
Luca Prasso: Expand your horizons to the many different areas CG is used in. Games, AR, VR are quickly attracting many of the talents that were in feature film/VFX before.
I see many young talents attracted by the "glitter" around CG feature films. Work on a strong and unique portfolio (artistic or technical). Competition is now very fierce (many schools are forming great talents these days).
Novedge: What are the skills necessary to make it in the industry?
Luca Prasso: Problem solving. Flexibility. Desire to push yourself in different direction and in the unknown.
Novedge: what keeps you inspired?
Luca Prasso: The many things I don't know yet. The world around me is full of amazing inspirations. I read daily Design, Art and Technical blogs. I watch TED talks. I try to find new ways to connect Art and Technology by never focusing only in one area that I know well.
Novedge: Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Luca Prasso scores one Oscar and Leonardo Di Caprio and myself still none. What are we doing wrong, and what are you doing right?
You don't have to have kids to check out the many fun apps at Curious Hat or to enjoy a good animated feature!
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