Temp design is killing creativity


Marvel movie scores are very difficult to recall. Give it a try, it’ll be quite the challenge. If instead you’re asked to hum something from Star Wars, you’ll most likely be able to do it instantly. Why is that? And how is this related to web development?

Still humming that Star Wars tune?

Yesterday I watched this amazing video explaining the above situation. If you can, please watch the 13 minute video before reading the rest of the article.

The Marvel Symphonic Universe by Every Frame a Painting

Turns out that something is missing from Marvel movie music.

Music in Marvel films does not really evoke an emotional response because it mostly plays in the background. On top of that it is used very predictively, specific familiar tunes for specific types of emotions.

A central cause for this is: “Temp Music”

“Temp Music” is music put in by the Director to add some feeling to raw film frames. This on itself is not a problem. But what happens next is that the Director asks the Editor to cut the film to match the temporary music.

Then, sometimes after more than a year, a Composer is asked to compose the final score for the film. The film however has already been cut to the temporary music. And to make matters worse, everyone has been hearing this temp music over and over and over. The Composer effectively loses almost all form of creative freedom as his music still needs to match the pace and feel of the cut.

How does this relate to web development?

On the web, we also have “Temp Music”. It’s not called music, it’s called “Design Mockups”.

If your web proces has designers doing mockups without active contribution of Front-end developers, your design team is sitting in that Director chair cutting to “Temp Music”.

The resulting mockups are a mirage. By the time the development team gets their hands on the mockups, the design team and the client will have been working on the mockups for so long that changing them has become nearly impossible. The development team can now only attempt to mimic the mockups as closely as they can.

With the above process you’re effectively killing all creative input from the development team. Input that could have lifted the design direction of the project.

Your development team knows of the latest API’s, the coolest new features, and the smartest and most effective ways to get things done. Instead of making use of that knowledge you’ve reduced them to mere design-to-web translators.

Being part of the creative process is not for everyone. So ask around, you might have some developers in your team who are very eager to give it a try. Getting them involved will improve communication between teams, increase creativity, and as a result, make the end product more memorable.

Now take the afternoon off and go watch all the other interesting movie analyses by Every Frame a Painting.

Rik Schennink

Web enthusiast