Of all the things on Jam3's agenda for this year - an office move, a possible second office and the development of a 360 degree camera - the most unusual would have to be this; waiting to see how North Korea reacts to its latest project.
"We haven't had any reaction yet, but we are just waiting for the phone call from Kim Jong-Un," jokes Adrian Belina, partner and creative director at the Toronto-based firm (pictured, left, with founder and technical director Mark McQuillan, center, and partner and creative director Pablo Vio, right). He's referring to The Defector, their latest project, which features hidden camera footage from North Korea. Accompanying a documentary by director Ann Shin and Fathom Film to be broadcast on Canada's TVO, the website features a would-be defector from North Korea, and all the harrowing experiences she encounters on her journey towards freedom.
While McQuillan had a strong interest in programming, Belina and Vio came from more of a design background. As such, Jam3 prides itself on the marriage of creative and technical know-how.
"All our directors and designers have to have a level of technical savvy, but at the same time our technical people aren't just code geeks. There has to be an artistic element there too," says Belina, who admits that interviewing for the 20-strong firm is a complicated process where people are really "under the heat lamps." Nevertheless, he says the office culture aims to let staffers have fun, despite the tight deadlines inevitable in its line of work, with a vintage arcade machine and beer fridge on site.
An intense focus on R&D in-house has resulted in developments such as its proprietary 3D particle engine, which allows higher particle counts as well as the ability to import models and other data, and was used in Bear71's website and Bjork.com as well as on Jam3's own website Jam3.com. Jam3 has also developed a prototype 360 degree camera, which it plans to license, and launched five mobile apps in the past year.
Meanwhile, with an increasing number of clients coming from the U.S., Jam3 is now seriously considering expansion across the border, with a second office in the works.