Interview with Prof. Michael Schwertel, Professor at the CBS International Business School & participant in the Junior Showcase 2000

by Eyes & Ears of Europe

You participated in the Junior Showcase in 2000: In which way did you come into contact with Eyes & Ears of Europe? And why did you choose to take part in the Junior Showcase?
As a student I already had the opportunity to join Eyes and Ears conferences before, which I liked very much. That's why I already knew some members before I participated in the Junior Showcase. When my professor approached me and advised me to submit my project, which I had implemented for Deutsche Bahn, I was eager to get professional feedback.

Could you please give a short introduction to your project from back then?
While on a train trip to Munich I saw an absolute design violation. Deutsche Bahn had installed "Inflight Screens" in the seats – probably for a lot of money – and the program was animated super cheap with a blue logo on a blue background. That got me very annoyed as a young student! We racked our brains at the Academy of Media Arts about CI etc. and the DB (after their immense image loss due to the train accident in Eschede in 1998) left the passenger with the impression of not paying any attention to details.
I then called people in charge at DB all over Germany, who kept on forwarding me. After 18 phone calls I finally had the person in charge on the phone, to whom I then explained that a train passenger equates the care in screen design with the care in technical maintenance. He simply told me that I should do it better if it bothered me. So I created a 3D screen design for the OnBoard program of Deutsche Bahn.

What was your strategy for this?
The screens were smaller and had a lower resolution than common TVs at that time. Even though the animations were done in 3D, I tried to make it very flat so that movement and shapes were readable even at a fleeting glance and could attract attention.

How did the project develop after the Junior Showcase?
It was still used by the DB – until the screens were removed from the ICEs.

What do you remember in a particularly positive way about the Eyes & Ears Junior Showcase?
The exchange with other presenters and guests of the former FMX such as Paul Debevec, the inventor of HDRI, was especially positive.

Did the participation in the Junior Showcase help you personally and / or professionally?
The feedback during the presentation and the question of whether one "may" do such projects as a student helped me a lot to reflect my own attitude towards independent work. This probably made it easier for me to become self-employed.
In addition, presenting my work in front of so many people showed me that I was able to do so – in fact a basic qualification for holding a lecture at all. :)

Which project would you submit today?
A 30 minute animation that I created solely in VR for the giz in 2019. I would never have thought how exhausting it is to navigate several months in VR space creatively.

Now, where and in which field of business are you working? 
I am Professor in Media Management at the CBS International Business School in Cologne, where I specialise in transmedia and media trends. I also work in my own animated film production Power-Toons, which produces animated content for various channels.

What advice would you give the potential New Talents 2020?
The media allows us to visualize our dreams and show them to others.
Use the New Talents to get another platform for valuable feedback!

Thank you very much, Prof. Michael Schwertel! New Talents projects can still be submitted until July 15th: https://eeofe.org/en/calendar/eyes-ears/2020/new-talents/new-talents-call-for-entries/