A Billion-Pixel World Q&A

Founders, VPs and Business Developers come together at The Hive to discuss the hefty work being done at their “billion-pixel agency” in a roundtable question and answer session.

Yahav Ran is Lead Multi Display Expert and Co-Founder of The Hive—and a household name in the digital signage industry. Michael Christopher is Production Director and the other founder of The Hive, who is defining new ways to capture and create media. David Tynes is Vice President of Digital Asset Management Services, bringing his digital expertise from a long tenure with outdoor retailer REI. Alison Weber is Business Development Manager, and she brings her unique vision for technology deployments from Cannes, Sundance, and the Microsoft Stores. They share their thoughts here.

What is a billion-pixel interactive agency?

David: A billion-pixel interactive agency is all about the big idea. The Hive takes that, the “big idea” behind a client’s brand, and then manifests that in seamless, engaging customer experiences.

Alison: (Laughs) There’s definitely both figurative and literal meanings here. Figuratively, there’s a world of new potential out there. Our agency is like an empire built on those ideas, where we pour our hearts and souls into the ground of this new space, so we can build these fantastic, larger-than-life concepts that other people get to experience…

And literally, in the case of a retail chain like the Microsoft Stores, we are talking about more than two billion pixels across all the screens in all their stores. This is over a mile of digital content!

Yahav: It’s how we define our breadth of services here at The Hive, and it’s a way to define the scale of our potential canvas…we are going beyond interactive experiences, beyond traditional high-definition content, beyond 4k multi displays. It’s a way to specify that we aren’t limited to a specific number of pixels, the possibilities are limitless…Because we have a magnificent render farm, which was designed for a billion pixels plus. And specific tools and processes to support these projects.

So what exactly does a billion-pixel agency do?

Yahav: We are creating sustainable channels that generate content for smart space experiences. Because of the process and structure of our studio, we can build a half-hour playlist in the two or three months that a typical agency might take to make a one to two minute video. This is doable because of our specific custom toolsets, and the process that we’ve built around this kind of content.

Content is, truly, king. In order for the experiences we create to have longevity, and to provide a good return on our clients’ investments, we create models that allow experiences to be updated throughout their lifecycles. It’s not hard to create a one-off for a two or three day event that will wow clients, but it’s a whole different story to create an installation that survives for years, and keeps visitors amazed for years. And keeps them coming back, for years.

A billion-pixel agency is focused on creating content for unique installations that may not exist anywhere else, and making sure those installations, or those content channels, are sustainable.

Alison: We’re creating content for huge video walls. We build interactive digital signage that puts users in control of an experience. We craft smart space installations.

The Hive is about building those moments in the brick and mortar world when a potential customer interacts with digital content in an experience that he simply has never had before. It’s possible because of our team’s unique talents and expertise, and this focus on unique experiences.

Michael: We’re working across many mediums, from mobile experiences to larger-than-life video walls. We’re also creating new efficiencies in this space. The Hive’s ability to make two minute 600,000+ pixel motion graphics in a month or two (and sometimes in a few weeks) is amazing, even to me—especially considering agencies who create commercials that run for :45 seconds and work in just HD can take 6 months to a year to make.

What’s something that makes The Hive different?

David: One key differentiator that I’m heavily involved with is the way in which we provide a complete content management solution to clients—as well as streamlining production, rights management and distribution. We want to help build management capability in the client’s organization, too, so that their ideas can continue to manifest efficiently long beyond their engagement with The Hive.

Additionally, we follow a rapid prototyping model, which allows us to quickly develop and integrate solutions. It also allows us to be always looking at the latest and best technology and ideas to build into a solution—so if we see something promising, we dive in to prove the concept.

Michael: Another differentiator would be that we are international, we can make animations and designs that work worldwide. And we’re mobile. We have teams in different parts of the world, and we do a lot of on-location shots.

Alison: The Hive has assembled a team and tools that really set us apart as a leader in this space. We’re able to create high-quality content and marry it with experiential consumer engagements (using technology like Kinect, for example) in ways that no one else is doing. We’re in love with ideas, and we have the vision and execution to make them a reality.

Yahav: We’re the only agency that knows how to efficiently create proprietary and diversified content, and support nonstandard formats across multiple installations. We can maintain, operate, and support those platforms, by relying on multidisciplinary professionals and tools.

We’re not just a studio. Some of us are channel experts. Some of us know how to assemble content so it plays seamlessly on a video wall. Some of us are software engineers, and some of us are integrators between the software engineers and the designers…We can push an installation forward by creating new concepts, functional proofs of concepts, and driving a content schedule that matches someone’s marketing calendar. It is possible to create something totally new, utilizing a structure a client might already have or creating a new structure. Whatever initial investment a client might have made, we can help them make the most of it. We can help ensure a return on that investment.