Toronto-based digital production company Jam3 has earned enough accolades over its first decade in business to make companies twice its size green with envy. Founded by three alumni – Mark McQuillan, Pablo Vio, and Adrian Belina – who met in Sheridan’s Interactive Media Management program (formerly called Interactive Multimedia), the company specializes in fusing creativity and technology to bring digital stories to life.
Two months ago, Jam3 achieved what no other Canadian company has managed to do by earning itself a spot in the Favourite Website Awards (FWA) Hall of Fame. FWA recognizes outstanding digital work and acts as a portal for groundbreaking creative projects. The founder of the FWA described Jam3 as one of the most progressive, innovative and pioneering agencies on the planet.
According to Belina, co-creative director and head of business development and strategy at Jam3, FWA motivates many agencies in the field to continually strengthen their portfolios by pushing boundaries in digital production and design. “Even when I was a student, FWA was a place that I’d always go to, to check to see what’s current,” Belina recalls. This latest recognition is a capstone achievement for the company who has previously earned 36 FWA awards including a prestigious Site of the Year Award.
Jam3 has found its stride by working tirelessly to blend elements of creative and technical design using a dedicated team of developers, producers, art directors and designers. An emphasis on storytelling helps bring projects to life and to set them apart. According to Belina, “Technology should amplify the story but shouldn’t be the story.” It’s a formula that has kept Jam3 at the forefront of their industry.
Sticking to the formula can be a challenge since Jam3’s team often needs to invent new technologies to tell their client’s brand story in a unique way. Take the Häagen-Dazs Concerto Timer app for example. They designed an app using augmented reality to educate ice cream consumers about tempering – the process during which ice cream reaches the ideal consistency for eating. If you point a Smartphone at a container of Häagen-Dazs, an image of a classical violinist appears atop the lid and performs for the time it takes for the ice cream to temper. In keeping with their high standards for design, Jam3’s developers custom built a device to capture the data needed to support the image of the violinist from a DSLR camera synchronized with a Kinect motion-sensing device.
Interactive documentary is another avenue through which Jam3 excels in storytelling. A project that Belina calls a “tipping point” for Jam3 is Bear 71. In partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, they helped tell the story of a Grizzly bear living in Banff National Park who met an untimely death. For this web doc, Jam3 received a Cannes Gold Lion and a FWA Site of the Year. In 2013, Jam3 partnered with filmmaker Ann Shin to create a website for her documentary The Defector: Escape from North Korea. Jam3 built a visual editing tool to boost the online interactive experience to show the harrowing experiences of six defectors from North Korea.
What does the next chapter hold for Jam3? With the re-launch of their website, a growing team prompting a move into a larger office in downtown Toronto, and an interest in expanding to the U.S. market, Jam3’s business potential seems boundless. In the words of Belina, the future of Jam3 is “anything that involves creative and technology”. It’s a broad declaration, but one that makes sense for a team that goes to any length to find innovative ways to turn an idea into reality, never losing sight of the story that inspired it.