Who would have guessed that a music, fitness and fashion guru would also be a gaming and tech nerd? When Christopher Slagel isn’t blogging about his LA lifestyle or travel adventures, he is dominating his field as the Director of Technology at Create Advertising Group.
Handling some of the feature film world’s most exclusive content, it’s important for the agency to stay up-to-date with the latest technology to ensure security and flexibility with the clients. Slagel discusses his take with the staff over at Sohonet on the future of agency technology and how his passion for creativity and innovation benefit his work in the advertising realm.
Q> How did you get into advertising and more specifically the tech side of it?
Christopher Slagel> When I was still green in the technology field, I got a job as a junior system administrator at 72andSunny. I remember being instantly blown away by the culture as it was so different from what I was used to. They really do try to make everyone as happy and comfortable as possible to keep the creative juices flowing; Also, I’m certainly not going to complain about office Happy Hours! I worked my way up to a management role and left to broaden my skills in the Start-up/web tech/DevOps sphere. But eventually, the culture and exciting content called me back, and I landed at Create.
Q> If you hadn't got in to tech, what did you always want to do?
CS> Throughout college and immediately following, I was actually the guitarist in a number of touring bands! I loved it and it was a fantastic life experience, but it didn’t really pay the bills. I still love to make and play music, but now it’s mostly from my computer.
Q> When did you first start working at Create?
CS> In a couple of months, it’ll have been 3 years: June of 2015.
Q> It seems like you handle some highly exclusive feature film content at Create. What does that mean in terms of the tech you need to use?
CS> Security is number one in this industry. Protecting your client’s assets is absolutely imperative; one slip, and your entire reputation can be devastated. A properly designed network and fortified security appliances are a must for that reason. Media and entertainment is also one of the few industries left that relies on blazing fast local storage and networks, as our client security requirements forbid use of the cloud. Other than that, any tools that you can use to automate workflows (asset management, transcoding, etc) are a big plus.
Q> How did you come to start using ClearView Flex? And what does it do for Create that other programs can't?
CS> Being able to do secure live editing sessions with our clients is a big part of our business, but the current standard for the process is a bit archaic. My search for a more flexible option landed on ClearView Flex. Using a web-based solution allows us to broaden our user base. We can now live edit with clients outside of LA that we could not do so with before, as well as with clients that don’t have the specialized circuits or equipment that the traditional method requires without sacrificing security. Because of that freedom, we can also use ClearView internally when our producers are outside of the office, which they absolutely love.
Q> You confess to love fashion, tech, food, gaming and nerd culture. It seems you're super creative as well as analytical and tech focussed. Do you think it is important for people in this industry to have a balance of Creativity and Innovation / Tech skills?
CS> Creatives are certainly their own breed. I think the stigma of IT guys/girls being cave trolls has absolutely diminished in general, but I would say even more so in this industry. Advertising itself is seen as a “hip & cool” industry - probably even more so than Media & Entertainment - and fitting in with the culture at these types of companies is extremely important to the cohesiveness of the teams. For that reason, I really do believe it’s important for us cave trolls to have a creative side so that we can properly communicate and understand the needs of those that we are supporting. Plus, it gives us a greater appreciation for the content that our companies produce!
Q> What does your day-to-day look like at Create?
CS> The day-to-day is always a rollercoaster. The slightest delay or hiccup can upset a client, so I have to make sure my team stays alert and on top of things at all times. Downtime isn’t really an option in this industry as we often have people working around the clock to meet deadlines. When we’re not running around, I spend a lot of time evaluating new and emerging technologies to see where we might be able to implement a solution to keep us ahead of our competition. If things are calm at the end of the week, I like to have a little Friday evening team building with my guys and have a mini-LAN party with some gaming.