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News Article From eSource Mag:

We talked to Jeff Schader, Founder and CEO of The Skins Factory just a few questions on how, what and why did they do what they did.

Background on the company:
The Skins Factory was founded in Dec. 2000 by rogue interface enthusiasts with a bold vision and a passion for all things GUI, The Skins Factory has quickly grown into the world’s premiere service provider for truly innovative graphical interface solutions.

The Skins Factory services a clientèle which includes some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies - clients like Microsoft, Intel, ATI, NVidia, Bank of America and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The Skins Factory offers a wide range of new media services including custom skins and application interfaces, web design, corporate collateral and digital press kits.
Here is the question answer session:


Now for the question and answer session:

eSource: Is it me, or when you start playing songs on the ALX skin, the whole skin turns from gray to a silver blue?

Jeff Schader: When you launch an audio file the coolant chamber animations kick in and do their thing. If you want to deactivate the animation you can simply click anywhere on the top chamber and it will turn off the animations. Click it again and they go back on. We’ve disabled it for video playback so as not to take up too many resources – besides it would be too distracting.


eSM: Secondly, how did you end up working with AlienWare?

Jeff Schader: I can’t remember how originally the dialogue was initiated. I think their Marketing Supervisor contacted us first over a year ago but nothing came of it. Microsoft contacted us back in July ’03 about doing a Windows Media Player/WindowBlinds skin suite for a Metallica-AlienWare joint promotion that AlienWare had going on. That was our first official AlienWare project. The deal hasn’t been finalized yet but we released screenshots back around the time of the 2004 E3 convention. But they ended up having to be pulled down. One day though they will be unleashed…


eSM: Are there more skins for the system up ahead?

Jeff Schader: If you’re referring to the AlienWare AlienMorph project then yes. They’ll be a WindowBlinds AlienWare Teleport and a WindowBlinds ALX Vortex skin released with a 77 icon package suite that will serve both versions. We re-did a few of the icons for the ALX Vortex version.


eSM: The original Alienware skin is 9mb and the ALX is 14mb, is that all because of animations?

Jeff Schader: Animations – Sound Effects – yeah pretty much that’s where the size is coming from. These were originally not going to be released to the general public. The original plan was to have them ship only on Alienware systems.
Good thing that I have DSL


eSM: Those animations (and sounds) are pretty intense, how long did it take to do all of that? Render hours?

Jeff Schader: I think it took Billy about a solid week and a half for both versions. The sounds I get from a sound studio and then bring them into Goldwave and do a little editing.


eSM: How did the concept come to life? where did you start? Hand drawings? All on the computer?

Jeff Schader: Billy works differently for each project. For Terminator 3 he did pencil sketches, then linears then went and built it. With this project he just sort of went into his 3D program and started building. I can’t remember who came up with the dual gyroscopic ring animation idea. It was one of us.


eSM: Does AlienWare like the finish product? (Yeah... they probably hate it and that is why it was released)

Jeff Schader: They pretty much love it. I don’t want to speak for them but we’ve gotten a lot of emails from them telling us how much the love it and that the reaction they’re getting from the community is more than they even expected. We’re definitely proud of it. I think it’s our ‘finest hour’ – so far.





Now With CatWoman:

eSM: How hard was it to make that skin with so much texture?

Jeff Schader: Actually that’s where Ilmari excels. He’s a master artist when it comes to textures and utilizing that painted look. We went through a lot of iterations for that one with little to no film assets to work off of. We’re pretty happy with the results.


eSM: Have people emailed you saying how well this skin was done?

Jeff Schader: Well we always get “fan” mail but this one is through the roof. We love hearing from people. So keep ‘em coming.


eSM: You have done work for WB before, is there much love for this skin amongst those who saw it?

Jeff Schader: We’ve done a ton of projects for Warner Bros. and they always seem pretty happy – they keep coming back from more. I think though they are happiest with the Terminator 3 skin. To date its our most popular skin next to the original Xbox WMP skin. Well until Alienware was released.


eSM: Anyone new to skinning see this skin? What did they say?

Jeff Schader: You’d have to ask them.

Comments
on Aug 12, 2004
those skins are amazing.. its too bad they hog memory, tho.
on Aug 15, 2004
The funny thing about AlienWare is that it is really about high end systems. So I guess it sort of makes sense to have a skin that really proforms on a high end system.

Funny, though, on my system, of which is a Celron Prosesser by the way, doesn't have that many problems running it. No memory problems and no real CPU problems.

To each his own I guess. And I agree that the skins are very well designed. I love the Catwoman animation too.
on Aug 16, 2004
I have zero memory usage issues when running them as long as you don't have the coolant chamber animations running. Super low actually. It's only when the animations are running that it goes high but that would be with any program that was engaged in an active and ongoing animation.
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