Meet E3 Media, web specialists
Blending optimized web and video services, our new coworkers engage, evolve and expand design online
A few months ago, the Beauty Shoppe opened its second coworking space in Pittsburgh. A reshuffling took place and several older offices fall vacant. One of these was an awkward L-shaped space end of the hall with a small adjacent closet. To E3 Media, a trio of web and video makers, it was choice. A little rough, but for the purposes of digital magicians, fully ready—or, almost.
Jeffrey Hilty, E3’s Lead Producer, planned to build himself an editing suite in the closet. “There are two kinds of editors,” he said recently, taking a break between meetings. “I’m a dungeon editor. Nick is a coffee shop editor.”
He was referring to Nicholas Buchheit, Producer and Visual Creative. The two met at the Art Institute, while completing bachelors degrees in film and video. (Another of their A.I. classmates was Kacey Wherley, who went on to found TEDxGrandviewAve.) Later, they interned together at Animal, cutting their teeth at one of the largest broadcasting and media production firms in the city. “We were trained in the classical sense,” Hilty said. “Big budgets, huge crews, and super-specialized talent”—an approach they quickly discarded when E3 was born. They still work on large-scale projects, expanding their crew with a core group of collaborators and freelancers as necessary, but their goal isn’t to get big; it’s to stay flexible.
Adrian D’Amico, the E3 web designer and strategist, and the designer of their own website, joined in the conversation. “I originally had hired Adrian as an actor,” Nick recounted, pausing briefly to allow the full absurdity sink in. “And then I realized, here’s this brilliant dude with an MBA who’s into some cool things.” The collaboration soon evolved around a project for Emergency Medicine Professionals (EMP), one of E3’s largest clients.
As a firm that specializes in brand strategy, the trio recognized the acute challenge of defining their own brand. They consulted several outsiders, who recommended they focus on video or web, not both—advice that they ignored. “In our heart, we just felt a true differentiator between us and everyone else out there is that we combine those two major things, web and video, and that we specialize in both, so you’re getting the best of both worlds,” Adrian said. E3 believes their two-sided model offers a more integrated product and a more efficient service, at a competitive price.
“Part of the reason why we built this new website was to demonstrate our vision for the company,” D’Amico said. The demonstration is a tour de force. After a brief blank screen, a tranquil view of a lake at early dawn appears. Quickly, the light blues are saturated with the warmer apricot hue of a full sunrise. The entire image is overlaid with a light dotted pattern, recalling way the world appears through a screen door, while simultaneously suggesting a different kind of screen—that of the mediated, digital world. The sunrise picture, which should be nostalgic—even cheesy—instead radiates an unexpected and powerful cool.
Click on the logo and the experience just gets better. Objects slide by smoothly, invitingly. The element of motion contributes something special, so this web experience isn’t just “crafted” (a cliché in multi-media design) but choreographed. Rather than just clicking for more information about E3’s optimization services, you participate in a film about it. In fact, the website is so startlingly cinematic, it would take a professor of film studies to fully diagnose its success. Compared to this experience, most web award winners seem predictable or overwrought. This is web design at a very high order.
“My MBA is in information systems, so I learned a bit of code doing that,” D’Amico said modestly.
“A Renaissance man,” Hilty interjected. They both laughed.
Of course style isn’t everything—it isn’t even E3’s main focus. Their goal is much broader: to produce good content, optimized for the web. “Content is king,” Nick said. Every king expects treatment suited to his status, which E3 is confident it can provide.