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Web Developer Interview

25th May 2014

Dave Williams, one of the creators of the immersing 'Casino Royale' website, shares some rare concept art and his memories from the project

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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The interactive website designed by DNA Studio for "Casino Royale" must be one of the most engrossing websites ever designed to promote a 007 adventure. As well as tease the film with pictures, synopsis and character profiles, the website allowed fans to play Texas Hold'em poker against fans worldwide and provided a dossier on 007 like never before. It went on to earn its creators a slew of awards, including: 2007 Webby Awards - Official Honoree, Adobe Site of the Day (Nov. 13, 2006), 2006 London International Award - Finalist, 2006 Pixel Award - Top Movie Site, and W3 Award - Gold Award for Movie & Film. MI6 caught up with one of the creators of the interactive experience, Dave Williams, to find out how the concept came about.

Above: Artwork showing James Bond's dossier as it appears on the Casino Royale website.

How did you come to work on the Casino Royale website? What did it feel like to reintroduce James Bond to a whole new generation?
I was a big Bond fan growing up, but more of the classics than the newer movies. The Bourne movies, I felt, really reinvented the spy/action/thriller genre and I think the Daniel Craig reboot was a bit of a response to those movies. It was really exciting to be a part of a movie series I had watched as a kid, and one that I thought was going to be a paradigm-shift for the character as well.

I was an Art Director for a web design company called DNA Studio (which no longer exists) in Los Angeles. Sony Pictures was one of our clients and I know our company tried very hard to get this business. We pitched concepts for maybe close to a year, even before the movie was shot, based off a rough synopsis of the script. We didn't have any photography or production assets when we started (or even know who the actors would be), so the visuals were very rough and conceptual. One point in the script that stuck out to me was a detail of a playing card being torn in half and two agents would match the cards, insuring they were counterparts to exchange information. I ended up making a website concept based on this detail - the user would match torn cards to unlock aspects of the site to reveal movie information. This concept won the business and eventually evolved into what was the final site.

Above: Unseen concept art from DNA. The torn-card scene was ultimately left out of the final cut of "Casino Royale".

How much creative freedom did you have on the project?
There were many layers of approval on the client side - Sony Pictures marketing team, the movie director, producers and top actors all had some hand in decision making. After the initial concept of the site had been accepted, a lot of decisions on how big the site was and how we tied in the movie marketing to the website were out of my hands. The whole client side on this enormous project was a bit of a black box from our perspective. The direction that resulted was that there were 2 sides to the site: 1, the “about the movie” side and 2, the “world of James Bond” side. The aesthetics, animation/motion, and sound design of how this was to be pulled off was largely up to our team, but the concept was expanded and refined from the larger client side.

How much lead time did you get when creating the design?
Although the total span of the project was long, time between rounds of revisions and concepts was quite accelerated. The timing is mostly a blur at this point, but I do remember some intense deadlines, late nights/weekends leading up to the major milestones.

How long did the project take from concept to final delivered product?
I think it was about a year in total, possibly a bit longer. Other designers had started pitching previous to my involvement.

What technologies did you use to create the site?
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Flash, Maya 3D, digital photography. We had a great team of talented people, many who have gone on to create many projects you all might know.

What aspect of the site where you most proud off?
I ended up loving the movie itself and still feel lucky that I was in the position to work on this project. It was the largest project I had worked on up to that point. There were so many moving parts and people involved, I look back and am still impressed on how well it all came together. In the end, the studio and Bond franchise very were happy, we payed close attention to the fan sites once it came out to gauge the response from the hard-core fans; the feedback was very positive as I (maybe selectively) recall, and the movie itself was a phenomenal success. The team that created the site have all remained friends and continue to occasionally work together. Not bad for a website made that long ago.

Many thanks to Dave Williams. View more of Dave's work at http://work.mathletic.com

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