The Firm List > The Firm List Spotlights > Tatu Digital Media

Your source for finding web design & development firms as well as individual web designers, developers, programmers and other multimedia & new media professionals from all over the world. The site has been growing since 1998 and now features more than 15,000 firms in over 185 countries.

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Tatu Digital Media Spotlight on the Firms
FL: Where did the name Tatu come from and what about it seemed to signify what you were trying to achieve with your firm's work?
TATU: The name Tatu is very important to us. It's a traditional spelling of the Maori tribes-people for their ritual markings. In this era of randomness (how many Tweetie tattoos are there out there now?) we liked the idea of each mark, every word having a special significance. Though there can be happy accidents, we make a conscious effort to avoid the arbitrary, no frosting hiding a poorly made cake.
FL: Your firm's site has a very textured, collage-like feel. This is not that common. Does this style reflect the backgrounds of the people at Tatu or did it simply "look good?"
TATU: It's a conscious choice to incorporate texture and thickness. We see the potential of this media to combine the richness and texture of print, the sensual pleasure of a fine piece of vellum or silk brocade with the depth of field and the vividness of the monitor.
FL: There seems to be an emphasis on storytelling and "narrative innovation," does this indicate that your company has a firm rooting in writing or theater? What is an example of "narrative innovation?" As storytellers of a sort, what promise (& limitations) do technologies such as animation, video and 3-D present to the art of storytelling?
TATU: We have a background that is theatrical and fine arts based. We are screenwriters, animators and painters as well as having a CEO who is an accomplished chef.

The 19th century opera experience was the multi-media of its day. Ballet, music, vocals, stagecraft and painting all blended into a vivid, sprawling and sometimes messy concoction. We believe that kind of sophisticated, but controlled chaos, is where the art of storytelling wants to go, where is has to go. We strive to tell a client's story in a way that enriches the viewer's experience, invites them to find out more. Our carefully selected and peculiar combination of talents makes this achievable.
FL: Does the story come before the choice of technologies or vice versa?
TATU: Actually it's far more organic than that. First comes the story, but everything is tempered by the client and the technology. Like everyone else, we pray for more bandwidth to allow these visions to flow smoothly.
FL: How important is it for a firm to lay out a vision statement such as your "Where we're going?" With thousands of web design and development firms out there, how important is a firm's vision in attracting clients?
TATU: We strongly feel that the vision IS the thing. We are going there - like it or not. We try to attract clients that find this particular path as interesting as we do. Clients who look for a creative way to tell their story, and are willing to push the boundaries a little in order to do so.
FL: As storytellers, the decision to have a very brief and succinct site tells a story in itself. Does brevity/minimalism play a larger role in your firm's values & vision, or were you simply under the mercy of lack of time to spend on your own site?
TATU: Our site is not the story; it's the atmosphere, the ambience. It's a jumping off spot for our client's goals and ideas.
FL: Given the recent shake-up in the business of the web, with large shops going through shake-ups, what about working with a smaller firm will ultimately draw clients to smaller firms like yours than the bigger shops?
TATU: The close working relationship that a smaller studio provides makes it possible to truly collaborate. We believe there is a direct correlation between size and the handcrafted quality we insist on.
FL: In some of your work, you use flash/shockwave in an almost television like way, with the audio/video layed out like a commercial. How important will this convergence of styles across the two mediums become? Will the web shape television in the years to come or will the web be more and more be shaped to look like televison?
TATU: I'm sure you have noticed that the web has already infiltrated TV. Take a look at Oxygen, broadcasting from a frameset, or Nickelodeon with its retro-vector graphics. Pro football announces scores with a little knock-off computer chime. It's just a matter of time before the two screens are interchangeable.

Though for the moment it's more restrictive than TV there is an intense intimacy to the web. The proximity of the monitor makes it easier for the viewer to fall into the screen and ultimately it increases the magic suspension of disbelief.
FL: It seems you have a wide range of clients from many different fields. Do you find yourself looking to specialize your business towards a particular industry or niche, or do you feel your special form of storytelling could work for any client.
TATU: Yes, there does seem to be a certain sort of client that we are most attuned to, but it has less to do with the variety of their businesses and more to do with their goals. We do best with clients who see our work and it resonates for them. They see the potential of the web, and are looking for someone who can show their work or product in a thick, rich, full-bodied way.
(spotlight first ran January 2001)

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