Hi there Orrin. Thanks very much for sharing your time with us. We not only enjoy your site but look forward to learning more about what it takes to bring something of this caliber together.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Orrin Zucker. I'm 46 years old and live in Needham, MA. It'sabout 20 minutes outside of Boston.
I started a broadcast design company called Ozone in 1990 where we create show opens, logos, promos and other misc graphics for television. Before Ozone, I was the design director in a few of the local TV stations and production companies here. I've been in this line of work since 1984.
I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in '83 and studied Graphic Design.
I've also created a line of royalty free animated and live action elements that's used by animators, editors and producers around the world. They're currently marketed under the brand name Photodisc by Getty Images and we've created Royalty Free HD to market the footage online in high definition.
Just out of curiosity would you be the brother of Jerry Zucker? The same Jerry of Airplane! and Naked Gun movie fame?
We get that question a lot. Jerry and I are brothers, but he's not THAT
Jerry Zucker. There's no relation other than we're huge admirers of his work.
Jerry actually tells a funny story about that. When Airplane! first came out, he wrote a fan letter to the Jerry Zucker who co-produced
it. He told him that he thought it was the funniest movie ever made and that he was proud to have his name on it. Thrillingly, he later answered, saying that he was so impressed with the letter that he decided to put Jerry's name on all of his films.
Where did you get the idea for your site, was it an original thought or
based on something you had seen?
It was pretty much original; I had been doing something along those lines for the Celtics for FSN and for CourtTV. As far as the storylines go, Jerry had for years brought these bizarre stories into the studio so we put two and two together and JerryTime popped out.
Visually, I think it's got a bit of everything I've ever seen it in, Monty Python, Looney Tunes, Roger Ramjet, Max Fleischer, King Kong, Batman bubblegum cards from 1966...you name it, it's there.
If you want to see more of our influences, check out the Scrapbook button on the site.
Was/is this the first site? Do you have other sites?
We have two other websites, which are more geared towards the broadcast industry.
The first, Ozone www.ozonetvdesign.com is a site which shows broadcast pieces I've done over the years. The other is Royalty Free HD www.royaltyfreehd.com which distributes high definition stock footage online.
I noticed you've won a number of very impressive awards for your productions. Was the site a way of showcasing your award winning productions or were the productions developed for the site and then the awards came later?
The awards came later. This was really an experiment in storytelling, animation, and online distribution. Neither Jerry nor I have ever done anything like that before.
Five months after we launched, the Emmys announced they were allowing broadband into its competition, and we entered. We became one of first webseries to be nominated, but lost to the AOL/Time Warner and Live 8. We were lucky enough to have been nominated for the second year in a row and we won this year's Broadband Variety Emmy.
We've been very lucky getting invited to prestigious festivals and even getting a few
Where do you come up with the story content? Your life, Jerry's, or others?
Jerry does all the writing, narrating and music composition. They all come from him. Then I sometimes edit or insert lines to help the continuity for the animation. I then take his track and visually interpret it. The most common question we're asked is if the stories are true. We usually say yes, it's true that it's a story.
What about the rest of the process? Who does the creative design and music?
I pretty much do all the visuals and the directing of the scenes. Jerry ends up doing a lot of photography, research and posing at various angles and expressions. He also writes and performs the ragtime piano music.
When we were growing up his mantra-like repetition, with many errors, of The Entertainer by Scott Joplin drove me insane. This is when "The Sting" came out and they were repeating the song over and over everywhere. I still have nightmares. Jerry also does some whistling and most recently, singing vocals for the background music and music videos.
How are the images made? From stills shots or video?
We usually start out with digital stills, and pull a bunch of stock photography. I take them into photoshop and then animate it in After Effects. Whatever I can't figure out an easy way to do will end up being either live action or 3D. It's really a mash up. I'm not a purist.
Where did you come up with the idea to distort the faces?
Growing up the son of a portrait photographer, I used to spend hours back in the retouching room, cutting up rejected photos, and painstakingly retouching them so you'd come up with whole families made up of giant mutant babies with black eyes and missing teeth.
How much time on average does it take to create one or your productions?
From start to end, I'd say a month.
How many people does it require to run your site?
Just me. When we started out, Steve Garfield www.stevegarfield.com set us up. He made it easy for me, because I'm not a web genius.
How much time do you spend working on your site on average a day?
It depends if we're in production mode. Usually we don't update it unless we have an episode. Jerry adds blog postings as well as other specialty- related entries.
Do you have a schedule for future releases or do they just get developed whenever the mood strikes?
In our first year, it was once a month...now it's whenever we have a break in the schedule and Jerry has a story ready...we're loose about it.
Are they developed specifically for your website?
Yes, they premiere on the site, but that's only one platform for them. They are originally produced in HD, so they can be broadcast (Monster Distributes is handling that end of things). Many of the episodes have appeared in film and animations festivals around the world, as well as mobile and we also have DVD sales.
Is this website your primary job or do you also work elsewhere?
No, Ozone is our primary company.
How long have you used SiteMeter?
Steve set us up right at the start with SiteMeter. It's been our only way of telling us who's watching from where and how...
When you first started the site what was your level of internet experience?
Other than hiring people to work on my website, none.
What if any strategies do you employ to drive traffic to your site?
We've tried a few, but it's mainly word of mouth. We've been lucky to have gotten a lot of press. We've just started posting to YouTube and a few other sites, been involved with a few message boards, MySpace, Facebook, have a newsletter, and just generally post new episode announcements in places that might find that specific episode interesting.
To a lesser degree we also issue press releases and other forms of P.R.
What do you enjoy most about having a web/site?
I love the ability the reach a worldwide audience, get instant feedback and have a direct connection with the audience. All this while still maintaining the rights to our work.
What is the biggest challenge you face in running a site like yours?
I think it would be getting adequately compensated, like most people.
From a financial perspective are you losing money, paying the bills, or making money from your site?
Well, the site isn't really costing much other than our time right now...but that's valuable...right?
What are your future goals for the site?
I think it would be to become a central base for our series. We've been recently spreading the animations out to various sites and medias, but none of them could host the various secondary features we've developed (the Blog, Store, background info, etc). We're trying to temper our expectations and weigh it against the amount of time, energy and money it would take to create a more robust sight, with chat rooms message boards, more animations etc.
We've interviewed a lot of very creative people recently and I'd be interested in your opinion. Based on your experiences is it realistic to for someone to expect that by creating a website to show-case their talents that it will lead to viable career opportunities? Can careers really be developed using this platform?
I think it can. There have been numerous examples of this.
Whether or not it's a long term success for us remains to be seen. For It's JerryTime, we're banking on creating timeless, high quality content, and having our episodes be valuable in the long term...when the web hashes out its business models. The jury is still out.
I take a line from the movie Scarface where he advises a young hood on how to succeed:
Do it first. Do it yourself. And keep on doing it?
Well Orrin, we'll let you get back to creating. Thanks again for your time and we look forward to seeing your next production.
Visit Orrin's at itsjerrytime.com