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The edge of Flash

by Rob Ford

Amazing that it's April already. Time certainly does go by quicker as you get older. Every time I sit down to select the sites I'm going to talk about in each column, I always wonder if I'll have enough exciting sites for you, and I'm always pleasantly surprised that I have too many to talk about.

I often see discussions online about how the web isn't what it used to be and how websites aren't as exciting as they once were. But I believe those people have simply lost their enthusiasm for the medium. It would be difficult not to be impressed by the following sites and the ideas they bring to entertain the masses.

FWA Photo

FWA Photo

FWA Photo

Site by group94
iPhone development by Boulevart

If you are like me, you love looking at pictures. Even if you're just waiting at the dentist and browsing a magazine, it's easier to look than read. For some time, I have been inspired by so many photographers online that I have created a new extension of FWA called FWA Photo — One photo a day. This site literally gives you one amazing photo to view each day.

This site focuses on one photo each day and offers some innovative features, including an iPhone application so you can stay up to date with the photos while you're on the move. It also features LightBoxer, which enables you to save your favorite photos from the site and even download an Adobe AIR application that lets you create your own personal photography screensaver.

GE: Plug into the Smart Grid

GE: Plug into the Smart Grid

GE: Plug into the Smart Grid

Site by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and North Kingdom

GE unveils the 21st century method of electrical transmission. This site is exceptional on two levels, and you should experience both. First, the production level and attention to detail is world-class, right down to the sound design. You can navigate each section to learn more about the Smart Grid and enjoy the delightful presentation.

But the icing on the cake is Augmented Reality: See How It Works. You'll need a webcam to actually experience it, but if you don't have one, just follow the link to watch a demo. Be prepared to be blown away.

Pretty Loaded

Pretty Loaded

Pretty Loaded

Site by Big Spaceship

There are many things in life we take for granted and this has become more apparent on the web. Try to imagine the web without Google or even Twitter (where you can follow me at http://twitter.com/fwa). For a decade, Flash has taken the web to ever-increasing heights, and one thing every great Flash site has is a great preloader.

When I heard that Big Spaceship was putting together a preloader museum, I was anticipating how the delivery would be handled, and it was executed flawlessly. By seamlessly looping some of the most amazing preloaders ever made, we now have an inspirational and historical archive of some of the best and most lovingly created preloaders ever. You can submit your own, but only the best are being accepted for the site.

John Galliano

John Galliano

John Galliano

Site by Creaktif and M5Five and NoMatter

Some might say this is another high-fashion site with catwalk videos, music, and so forth, but this site, which presents John Galliano's latest work, caught my eye for another reason. Enter the site, click Menu, and choose Male or Female. Let the video load, and then look for the Search In The Video link. This is something I have not seen before. It certainly opens up new avenues for online video. It works by breaking each 15 seconds or so of video down into small images, which enables you to find a specific point or style in the catwalk show. What a simple yet unique idea.

magicsocket

magicsocket

magicsocket

Site by magicsocket

I can remember in the early days of FWA when I used to get e-mail from people complaining about FWA featuring too many web design agency sites and not enough of their actual work. As time has progressed, this has completely changed, mainly because fewer original agency sites are being launched these days.

So when magicsocket landed in my inbox, I was initially impressed by the Scalextric-style preloader. As a child, I always dreamed of owning Scalextric. Once the site loaded, I was impressed by the way the one-page scrolling site was centered around the race track. But then I saw the glistening FUN button. The site then took on an extra dimension, and there is only one way to find out what that is.

Digital Concert Hall

Digital Concert Hall

Digital Concert Hall

Site by argonauten G2

It was only a matter of time before someone created a sophisticated site like this one featuring live concerts for a global audience with CD-quality sound and high-definition video on a digital platform dedicated to the world's best orchestra. First, you'll need to do a stream test to check the power of your machine and connection. Click How It Works to run the test. Once you have verified you have a machine and a connection that can stream concerts at full-screen, click Archives to watch some free footage. The site is essentially a pay-per-view experience, but there's enough free content to whet your appetite.

Axe 100 Girls

Axe 100 Girls

Axe 100 Girls

Site by BBH New York and B-Reel

Axe is always using a lot of girls to tempt boys to use its grooming products. Now the company is using 100 girls. This site is built around such a simple idea: Upload a headshot and let 100 girls decide if you have a cool hairdo. The girls are in a warehouse/studio, and as each photo of a guy's hair shows up on a big screen, they move to one side of the yes/no line to let viewers know whether the hairstyle is girl-approved. With multiple camera angles, you should get plenty of different girl reactions to your hairstyle. The most amazing thing is that these girls seem to be working 24 hours a day with no sign of fatigue.

Bjorn Borg — In Action

Bjorn Borg — In Action

Bjorn Borg — In Action

Site by Farfar and It's Showtime

A man in red underwear is playing tennis with a lady in white underwear. Hang on, a man in black underwear is playing tennis with a lady in pink underwear. Hang on, a man in white underwear is playing tennis with a lady in black underwear. This clever, interactive, slow-motion video has an element of surprise that I might have just spoiled for you. You can click the video at any time to see the collection in even greater detail. There's something for both men and women here.

Epilogue

It’s quite amazing that I have been writing these columns since 2006. I must admit that I am not a big fan of writing as it’s quite exhausting and anyone who writes will know what I mean. It becomes even more difficult when you write about the same subject over and over again. There are only so many ways you can describe a website. I guess this problem is the same for any creative. Trying to do something new all the time is no easy task, yet we all seem to be able to do just that.

One last note: Keep an eye on FWA. Any day now, we'll get our 50 millionth site visit, and we're hoping to do something special to mark the occasion.

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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.