TechTalk with FableVision Studios


FableVision's Jordan Bach (Senior Developer) and Brian Grossman (Technical Director)

FableVision's Jordan Bach (Senior Developer) and Brian Grossman (Technical Director)

Among other things here at FableVision, we’re known for our gorgeous art and animation -- those visual pieces are a direct connection to our motto -- “Stories that Matter, Stories that Move.” But FableVision Studios also uses cutting-edge technology, tools and techniques to make our projects come to life. Using a wide array of software and hardware while working on many projects at a time for various platforms, the tech team at FableVision Studios are the behind-the-scenes maestros of those stories that move and matter.


Tools of the Trade


HTML: HTML is the bedrock foundation of everything on the internet -- it’s a computer language specifically for building websites, and every website uses it. Every time you go to a website, your browser translates those words into a webpage, complete with words, images, videos and more!

JavaScript: If HTML is the bedrock foundation of the internet, JavaScript is what makes a webpage do things. Any time you can type into a text box, watch a slideshow, or if something on a page is animated, that’s thanks to JavaScript.

Unity: Unity is a program for making games for computers, websites, or mobile devices, commonly referred to as a game “engine.” Making a game is complex, so Unity provides a foundation for a team to build upon, so they can focus on making it fun and beautiful.

“Because FableVision is a mission-based company, we focus on finding a project that fits our mission, then we find the technology that fits the project,” says Brian Grossman, Technical Director. He’s been working at FableVision for more than a decade, and has seen the tools and process change many times over the years. Developing the technology behind a project starts during the FabLab, the first step for any FableVision project, where everyone connected to a project meets to collaboratively plan and discuss every aspect. Being part of the process from the beginning is important and fun, says Jordan Bach, Senior Developer at FableVision Studios: “I can let people know what’s easy and what’s hard; if we do the hard thing we may not have time to do this awesome thing, etcetera. We want to be able to do as much awesome stuff as we can.”

Once the project gets going, Jordan describes the work of the tech team as “assemblers” -- they take the art, writing, sound, and more, and make it all seamlessly work together. Because FableVision works on many types of media -- websites, mobile games, museum interactives, and much more -- this means everyone on the team has to know an array of skills and toolsets. Websites and web-based interactive projects are frequently built in HTML and JavaScript and games are frequently made using the Unity 3D Game Engine, just to name a few. (See sidebar, “Tools of the Trade.”)

There is a truth about good technical work that not everyone knows. “This is almost a cliche, but I’ll say it anyways: our tech team is really talented, and if we’re doing what we’re doing well, you’ll never see it,” Jordan points out. If an app or game works as expected, it’s easy to never think of all the work that went into it, and everything that’s happening under the hood. A great example of this is what is called “Responsive Design,” whereby the tech team works hard to make a website, app, or game work well and look great on a multitude of devices, from laptops to cell phones. (See sidebar, “Responsive Design.”)


Responsive Design


Responsive design is the process of making a website, app or game perform the same and look good across many types of devices, whether it be a 30” TV or the iPhone in your pocket.

The website or application is constantly checking what the size of the screen is, and moves and re-sizes the content, whether it be photos, text, or buttons, to fit and follow certain guidelines. “We try to build things that can go everywhere,” says Brian Grossman, Technical Director at FableVision Studios.

It’s not always a rosy path to launching a project, however -- technology is sometimes fickle, and working with the cutting-edge tools and processes sometimes means working in uncharted territory. “Every project has its own quirky technology problem, or problems! There’s always something that makes it like no other project we’ve ever done,” says Brian. “Prototyping and core functionality isn’t hard, it’s the polish, it’s the potential problems and bug fixes. It’s lopsided -- 20% of the time is 80% of the functionality, 80% of the time is finessing and perfecting the last 20% of functionality.”

Ultimately the tech team is committed to getting the project done, and that means a lot of creativity and hard work. “You’ll look at a problem for a while and you won’t have a solution; suddenly you’ll have an epiphany and you’ll find the solution,” Brian says with a chuckle, pantomiming staring at his screen until suddenly the roadblock is lifted. Coding is modern problem-solving, working with computers by writing in languages they can understand, and problem-solving is an inherently creative skill, one that is incredibly important to our modern world and its future. That kind of problem solving and ingenuity are at work every day at FableVision Studios -- it’s integral to the level of quality media we’re known for, and what we pride ourselves on every day. No matter the media challenge, we’ll help you meet it.

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