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Riding the right crest at the right time

Oliver Hernández Bürckert opens the glass doors and welcomes us into his orderly, almost austere office in Son Castello with a big smile. It immediately becomes clear that he is filled with a bubbling enthusiasm for his chosen profession, which combines his two great passions: Computer technology and creativity.

But this wasn’t always the case.

“I woke up one day and realised I had begun almost to hate what I once loved. The company had become so successful and everything was happening so fast … I felt that everything had become just about profit and that there was no longer any time for fun,” he recalls.

At that time, the advertising company he started at the age of 19 (!) with a partner, was riding high on a wave of success. If one door closed, a whole new wall seemed to burst open. For example, just when the two wanted to start incorporating video into their services but knew that the film cameras on the market at the time were way above their budget, POW! came the digital revolution with affordable camcorders. The partners wasted no time.

“Suddenly we had 30 employees, we were travelling constantly, we opened a new office in Madrid… My partner wanted to open offices everywhere, in Paris, in New York, in Tokyo! Actually, I think he would definitely have succeeded if it hadn’t been for the economic crisis in 2008/2009. That stopped the whole thing dead in its tracks.”

The crisis forced Hernández to take a step back and rethink the whole structure of the company. Luck was on his side again, because this coincided with the internet, especially YouTube, starting to become a real player in the media world. He decided to forget about the traditional medias like newspapers, magazines and tv. Instead he would go out on a limb and concentrate only on video production. [LINK to company presentation video?]

That seems to be working, for since then his company, Looping Film&Marketing, has worked with big names like Coca-Cola, Grupo Piñtero, Breitling, Paramount, Husquarna, Air Europa and Halcon Viajes. Yes, even the government of the Illes Balearics has come to Hernandez for help to promote our islands, using Mallorca’s most famous son, Rafael Nadal, as the face of the campaign.

“I think we have worked with Nadal six times over the last three years”, Hernandez muses. “But like me, I think he has now decided that he can’t take on all these projects just to make money…”

Oliver Hernandez Bürckert – the second surname is from his German mother – was born in mainland Spain but moved to Mallorca at the age of 17 to study his great passion, computers. At the time, there were only three places in the world it was possible to study 3D imagery: The US, France – and Mallorca! The die was cast. It was typical of the later trajectory of his career that he ended up in the right place at the right time, just as animation and 3D were bursting onto the scene in earnest.

“Although certain aspects of the public sector here can be, shall we say, not always innovative, Mallorca is a very happening place full of international entrepreneurs”, Hernández, who speaks four languages, says.

“Just by having a website that offers English and German in addition to Spanish and Catalá, I can attract customers who might not have the same trust in Spanish-only sites. We now have only three employees here in Palma and another three in our office in Frankfurt. By keeping the company small and outsourcing the more specialised tasks to freelancers, I can keep expenses down and offer services suitable for every budget,” he explains, adding: “Clients don’t pay for bigger, better cameras, but for expertise.”

When asked if he would have done anything differently could he have started from the beginning again, he has to think hard. “I’ve been so lucky … well, actually, I have also worked very hard,” he says. “But if I could start again, I would probably have… been more careful about whom I trusted and associated with and less dazzled at times by rich, important clients. But I think I always knew it when something wasn’t quite right. This is my advice: Trust your instincts. They are normally right.”

Looping’s office is a study in functionality.  The only indication that this is a place of intense cinematic creativity is some old film reels on top of a shelf, where also resides the first digital video camera Hernandez bought. It is a sleek and elegant Canon, still modern-looking.

In the corner is a good old-fashioned Star Wars video game, big and clunky and looking not unlike a one-armed bandit. It turns out it’s not actually the real thing from the prehistoric dawn of video games, but only a tailor-made shell for a computer with thousands of games. Although Hernández now thinks work is fun again, he seldom plays it anymore. His five-year-old son, on the other hand, does. The first time the boy tried it, he needed no instruction but played as if by instinct.

“He also somehow knew how to use an iPad at once, when he was only two years old. But after a while my wife and I noticed him becoming more and more addicted, so we decided to severely restrict his access to this type of technology for now. “

It’s not that Hernandez is afraid of becoming addicted to technology himself; he already is. But in a good way! Tempered by good old-fashioned, paper napkin-scribbling creativity, he is confident that the next technological revolution, AI (artificial intelligence), won’t represent any threat to us.

“We will always need the human component to keep the machines… well, to keep them moral.” On this optimistic note he waves goodbye, just as his wife Katja, who also works at Looping, turns up. Another day of fun work can begin.

It’s good to meet someone who, despite being in the know about technology, doesn’t think we are tottering on the edge of a dystopian abyss; for there are certainly no shortage of people not as cheerful about the future. But one thing’s for sure: whatever challenges the next technological wave brings and whatever shape it takes, there is no doubt that Looping and Oliver Hernández Brückert will surf that crest with panache.

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