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The Work That Made Me: Nicolas Rajabaly



'makemepulse' CCO opens up about his creative history and the work that made him

The Work That Made Me: Nicolas Rajabaly
After graduating from the famous French school of Gobelins, Nicolas worked at various agencies in Paris before founding interactive production company 'makemepulse' in 2008, with business partner Antoine Ughetto. In leading the creation at 'makemepulse' for the last 12 years, Nicolas’ focus has been on creating new immersive, interactive and experiential ways to tell stories for clients. He happens to think people engage with experiences, and when content is interactive, it’s engaging, which creates an emotional connection that is both memorable and valuable. 'makemepulse' has won a whole host of awards at Cannes Lions, One Show, Eurobest, entries into the Creative Review Annual and Kinsale Shark awards. Get to know Nicolas as he discusses the work that made him who he is today.

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

Wow that’s a tough question! Music videos influenced my childhood a lot, and actually still continue to do so, especially ones by Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry. I’m completely part of the MTV generation! I really could name any of The Chemical Brothers music videos here, but the 'Star Guitar' one made by Michel Gondry is probably the most awesome. At first sight, it’s just an outside view from a moving train, but then you realise that everything that appears in the background is linked to a specific part of the song, and then suddenly the whole music video becomes an interactive experience. ‘Let Forever Be’ is another Chemical Brothers music video directed by Michel Gondry that I also love. There’s also a making of video here which helps you to understand how insanely creative Michel is!

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

Without any doubt, 'Get the Glass!' from North Kingdom and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for The California Milkboard Inc.! The experience was released in 2007 and is still a relevant reference in terms of craft in my point of view! I found this screen capture that shows you the whole experience.

There is also a making of video here and this behind the scene article where you can realise that yes it was a digital campaign on a website but they were crazy enough to build a proper physical model! Being creative for me is equivalent to always learning. I love the fact that I never do something identically twice, and try to constantly be outside of my comfort zone.

The creative work (film/album/game/ad/album/book/poem etc) that I keep revisiting…

Probably Akira, the masterpiece written, illustrated and directed by Katsuhiro Ōtomo released in 1988. The first time I saw it - in the good old days of VHS - I was completely stunned and ecstatic to discover this whole new visual world. The global aesthetic and imagery was so unconventional and innovative. Everything was new for me: (neo-)Tokyo, the Cyberpunk universe, biker gangs, this incredible red motorbike, super-powered children with decrepit faces, the violence and nudity. A real shockwave in my mind.

I keep revisiting it every 2 or 3 years, and each time I discovered new details in the animation and the unimaginable level of craft involved. The fact that they created more than 50 colours especially for the anime (Akira Red is a real thing), the lighting on every frame or the use of negative space is just mind-blowing.

My first professional project…

I’ll be completely honest, my very first professional work wasn’t very interesting. I was miserably paid as a freelancer to make a famous super-old photographer’s website during my last year of study. The whole website design and development was to be part of my portfolio, so it was important for me to finish it and make it public quickly when I suddenly realised that he had none of his work in a digital format...I spent an entire week scanning every single photo that he had...for free...I had to make it happen.

The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

I wouldn’t target any work specifically, but I think that working for companies like Monsanto that don’t respect their customers or the planet, makes me sick. More globally, I think it’s our responsibility in this industry to carefully and ethically choose our client. Because our work could have a strong impact and could amplify the wrong, but hopefully, the right message.

The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that still makes me jealous…

'Because Recollection' from 84.Paris. Firstly, because I have a great amount of respect for all of their work and I’ve known them since my student days. Secondly, because it’s pure creativity: relevant, entertaining, innovative, interactive and immersive. And finally because it is so well crafted.

The creative project that changed my career…

Greenpeace - A New Warrior. This incredible campaign made with 84.Paris and TBWA is one of my best memories. We had just started makemepulse, and 84.Paris trusted us to help them with this long journey. We were - and of course still are - a bunch of passionate people entirely
dedicated to produce the best experience possible, working day and night to make the project happen.It is even more special because it was also our first Cannes Lions win. At the time I didn’t realise what it meant for the industry and how important it was. I was just happy that our work was recognised by my peers but it also helped our company to grow.

The work that I’m proudest of…

I would say 'For Honor - Scars' for Ubisoft. Secret fact: I think a big part of our talent is a little bit frustrated to not work in a video game company. In our point of view, it’s the ultimate form of experience. It’s state of the art in terms of narrative, interactive and immersive, the perfect mix between creativity and technology. When we had the tremendously exciting opportunity to work for a video game company like Ubisoft we seized it and made one of our masterpieces - in my humble opinion. This experience was a huge achievement, we knew when we released the experience that it would set the bar high for a long time to everyone else who would like to compete.

I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

A few years ago, we made a mobile app for a famous french yogurt brand to literally recreate a branded version of Instagram and let users take photos with their own “colour filters” linked to the brand you can imagine, it wasn’t a all. But during this production, I had the chance to encounter and work with one of the best producers I ever met who has now became one of our teammates!

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

Our 2019 wishes, Nomadic Tribe. A few years ago, we thought of how we could create an in-house project in between the work we do with our amazing clients and partners. Creating this kind of project allows us to build something together, empowering our creative minds and enables team building. It is an opportunity for us to experiment on both the creative and technical sides of our work and try new methods and technologies that resonate with future clients. It enables us to get our team together for a project which we can put our heart and soul into. This particular makemepulse wish was the fourth edition and it had slowly become our signature project in the small world of the digital industry, as every year, people asked what it is going to be and when it is going to be released! We try very hard to push ourselves even further year after year to craft a project we are really proud of.

It is also a very nice way to have fun, and design all the small details and gimmicks we couldn’t usually implement in other projects. For this edition, we were inspired by the magnificent work of Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) to create an interactive tale about a mysterious tribe living on an archipelago of islands, moving from one to another every year, doing their ecological duty. We had the honour of winning both the FWA Of the Year award and Awwwards Site Of the Year for this beautiful project that came from our heart.
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makemepulse, Thu, 23 Apr 2020 15:29:05 GMT