zplane Interviews Stéphane Bellanger, Tech Lead, Hercules

Jun 2., 2023

| Hercules | zplane

Guillemot Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of interactive entertainment hardware and accessories. Founded in France in 1984 by the Guillemot brothers, the company has established itself as a prominent player in the gaming and audio industries. Guillemot is known for its two main brands: Hercules and Thrustmaster. In an exciting collaboration, zplane and Hercules have joined forces on multiple projects. To gain deeper insights into this partnership and uncover their recent advancements, we had the opportunity to interview Stéphane Bellanger, the Technical Software Manager at Hercules.

– Hello Stéphane, I am delighted to have the opportunity to interview you today. Before we delve into the collaboration between Hercules and zplane, let’s start with some background about you. What inspired you to pursue this career? Can you tell us about your experience working as a technical software manager?

Hello Joshua, I’m pleased to share with you.
I started my career in the game industry, first as a tester, then as a developer, and finally, I became in charge of sound. I have always been a music fan, so it was quite a natural move.

Since 2013, I’ve been working for Guillemot as a Technical Software manager. I do manage software projects for our two brands, Thrustmaster for gaming and Hercules for computer audio accessories (mainly DJ Controllers). I’m very glad to work for such a cool industry.

– It’s exciting to hear about your professional journey in the gaming industry and your transition to the sound industry. The entertainment industry is an incredibly fascinating sphere to be part of. I am intrigued by your current role as Guillemot’s Technical Software Manager. Can you share some of the music-related products and technologies you have worked on in your career?

I worked on the first game (POD) with real-time Dolby Surround encoding. It was before a multichannel sound card. But I’m also amazed by DJUCED, Hercules DJ Software solution. We put so many features to help people learn and succeed.

– Engaging in work of this caliber must have been inspiring. I would love to learn more about the role you played at Hercules, driving progress and enabling the company to attain success. Would you kindly share some insights into your contributions to the company’s growth and advancement?

When I joined the company (Guillemot is a hardware and accessories designer and manufacturer). I first had to put in place the tools and methods to develop software. I’m quite proud of our software quality and user satisfaction. This was only possible because we were able to develop our own software, with our own features, fully dedicated to our controllers.

– Software quality and user satisfaction are essential for any company. Hercules unveiled the DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2 on April 3rd, 2023, which boasts updated hardware and software frameworks along with Serato DJ compatibility. How does this release differ from previous versions?

On the hardware side, it offers new wheels and improved visibility and comfort. On the software side, it opens new functionalities like the STEMs and adds compatibility with Serato, our Partner DJ Software.

– It has been a pleasure working with Guillemot for over a decade. In the next segment of this interview, I am excited to learn about the origins of this partnership between Hercules and zplane.

Yes, this is truly a long partnership. We were looking for a partner to find state-of-the-art beat detection. We found AUFTAKT and are still using it along with other zplane technologies.

– With Hercules having licensed a number of SDKs from zplane, including ELASTIQUE-EFF, AUFTAKT, TONART, ZREVERB, and some others, could you describe your experience collaborating with our team? How have our SDKs improved the functionality and performance of your software?

First, you guys are nice people. I was always able to get rapid support, with a good understanding of my needs. And thanks to the SDKs we were able not only to provide trailblazing features but to imagine new ones thanks to zplane’s innovations. We were also able to focus on the development of our own unique features without spending time reinventing the wheel.

– Thanks for your kind words, and rest assured that zplane maintains superior product standards and fosters a culture of constant innovation. As you reflect on the integration process, were there any obstacles or challenges that required overcoming, and if so, how were they resolved?

Integrating zplane SDKs is quite easy, and as I said before, if you have any questions you just have to drop an email and you get the answer. Having multiple SDKs from zplane also helps because they are designed to work together. In fact, the real challenge is finding “what can I do with this solution that nobody ever imagined”.

– In a world that is continuously expanding and evolving, replete with novel ideas and technologies, it can certainly be a challenge to identify the ideal partner. The partnership we have with you is something we deeply value. How do you see the role of SDKs and third-party software components in the future of software development, and how does Hercules approach the selection and integration of these components?

We are constantly looking for innovation. I would say that first, we try to understand and estimate the workload of a feature. Then we seek existing solutions and evaluate them. We always try to develop a proof of concept, but as soon as we find a possible partner, we evaluate the ratio between the quality/improvement the solution provides, the time we will save, and, of course, the solution cost.

– Thanks for sharing your input on the subject. How do you see the music software industry evolving in the next few years, and how is Hercules positioning itself to stay ahead of the curve?

In everything we do, we want to simplify things and help our customers succeed. I think this is a path in the music industry. Now everybody is able to play, record, and even distribute their productions from home. If we can even simplify the creation and give more space for fun, we will win.

– Well said! I want to thank you for all the knowledge and insights shared. In conclusion, I would like to pose a final query. What advice would you offer to aspiring technical software managers or developers in the music technology field?

Simply keep innovating, and don’t reject any idea because it seems too complex to code. And, of course, find good partners…