by Rob Ford
Spring is in the air for many of us, so it gives me great pleasure to highlight some fresh talent and uplifting work. This is another mixed bag of sites, which I think is the best format for my column because it gives me the best chance to inspire all tastes.
Here we have a great mix of sites that launched in recent months.
Site by Errol Schwartz
I always say it, but personality and character make a website stand out from the crowd. Errol Schwartz backs up this statement with his groovy, playful, charming, and highly interactive personal portfolio.
His site plays out in Game Mode where users shoot targets to open up content in his portfolio. Shoot all the targets in a short amount of time, and you might even make it to the high-score table. This site also sports a cute and catchy tune, and for those who just want to see the work, you can choose Browse Mode. In my crystal ball, I see a great future for Errol in this industry.
Car websites are a dime a dozen. Some leave you astonished by how bad they are while others reach you on an emotional level. Enter this atmospheric site for Porsche.
If you have a moment, check out the behind-the-scenes videos for this project. You will be even more impressed with what the Fi team created from quite a limited number of assets.
The unique feature of this site is the Rev The Engine feature. As Porsche's engineers are heavily focused on the sound of their engines, this site enables users to rev each model's engine on two levels: mid-revs and redline. The attention to detail and the atmosphere created here are impressive as ambient sound effects and cleverly created motion throughout combine for an unmistakable site.
Here's your chance to live the life of a CEO while your boss is away on business. Your boss, Jack, is flying back from Japan. You are Joe, and you can have some fun by trying to perform several different stunts before Jack returns.
This interactive video is excellent because while you are performing stunts you can see your boss's travel distance, so you know when he will be back. You can also speed up or slow down the video, which is very innovative.
The question is, can you perform all the stunts before Jack gets back?
Forsman and Bodenfors has been doing amazing things for IKEA for many years. The first Dream Kitchens for Everyone site in 2005 really had the interactive world talking. The agency's Matrix-style video effects were soon popping up on other sites as well as in TV advertising for other kitchen companies.
This latest incursion takes on a new style with multi-angled video footage that has been slowed down to an incredible level. The charming sense of tranquility of this site is coupled with an almost hectic scene-loader that is entirely original.
You'll need a few uninterrupted minutes to check out this site. I know we all live in a fast-paced world where none of us has time to read a decent book anymore, but take your time with this site because, if given the chance, it will suck you in.
This site is basically a recruiting tool for potential officers for the Swedish Armed Forces. You can take several recruitment tests and compare your results to others who have taken the tests.
This site also advises you to put on your headphones, as many sites do. This is one of those rare times I advise you to do just that, or at least minimize any distractions for at least ten minutes.
So, relax, listen, and follow the instructions as you embark on a series of tests that reveal your true caliber.
Site by Less Rain
Papervision3D is definitely the thing right now. It is exciting to finally see some creative 3D work coming online. The teams at Less Rain (from Japan, Germany, and the UK) worked together on this project for Red Bull. This immersive and highly creative site enables you to create your own flying machine in intricate detail on-the-fly, so to speak.
Your hand-drawn outline is automatically converted to a 3D plane model, which you can fly in an impressive physics-based flight simulator. My flying skills weren't great, but I'm sure that practice makes perfect. If you are not the creative type, you can try other people's planes instead.
This official DreamWorks site for the Kung Fu Panda animated movie is loaded with creativity and fun. Don't skip the charming short intro because the fun starts immediately. Kung Fu Panda makes an impressive entrance by flexing some of his amazing (not really) kung fu skills.
As of March 2008, this site still has many coming soon areas, but there is still plenty to explore. As you'd expect from DreamWorks, the site is packed full of great visuals and animation, and rewards abound for those who interact with the numerous buttons that are tucked away in all corners of this site.
This is possibly the most charming site in this column. (Can I use the word charming yet again?) First you'll notice the great music, and then you can either irritate the sleeping dog or enter the full site.
This is a promotional site for a downloadable game, and the object is to find 20 hidden bones. Trust me: There are indeed 20 bones to be found. I doubted it because I kept finding only 19, but finally my natural dog instincts and my trustee Labrador sniffing at my side helped me find the sought-after 20th bone.
Don't miss the wonderful graphics and clever sections of animation that adorn this site. And don't forget to click the sun for some late night action.
Well, when I started writing this column, I wondered what the theme would be. Now that I have reached the end, it's staring me in the face. So, today's secret to success is to give your site some atmosphere, personality, character, and — last but not least — charm.
Don't miss FITC Toronto 2008
April 9–22, 2008
Rob Ford founded The FWA Network in May 2000 and since then the network has received over 150 million visits. The FWA Network showcases projects that use cutting edge technology for desktop, mobile and offline, together with showcases for photography as well as video. Rob is also the author of three bestselling books of web and mobile. Check out The FWA Network.