by Rob Ford
Finally, I think we have turned this economic downturn around. In the last few months, we have seen more and more impressive interactive work, which tells me that brands are beginning to get creative again. We definitely went through a stage where brands were still finding budgets but they had lost the desire to push the boundaries and show off. The conservative approach was sensible, but now I believe we are back in the groove. Let me demonstrate by showing you some truly inspirational work.
Many of you will remember the HBO Voyeur site from 2007. That site was unforgettable and a major award winner. This latest site from HBO takes that creativity to another level. It's an interactive film experience with all elements set in a three-dimensional field. By navigating through this site, you slowly unlock a message at the bottom of the screen. To make things a bit easier for those in a rush, you can click a symbol at the top of the screen that shows you which parts of the site you haven't explored yet. Overall, this is a very immersive experience indeed.
Site by Allan Durand
Now here is your chance to discover the musical universe of "The Incredible Polo." If your human beatboxing skills are not quite up to par, like mine, this site will give you that coolness you have always desired. This is essentially a musical instrument for you to play with. Just drag and drop instruments, percussions, effects, chorus, voices, and even some bonus elements. Then lay down your own track. If you have no time, just click Shuffle Mode and enjoy a random mix.
If you asked me to show you a recent site with high production quality — make that exceptional quality — this would be one of the best examples. We may be seeing a glimpse of the future of the web here. This site enables you to experience the past, present, and future of Saab's safety, fuel efficiency, and power. The virtual desk invites you to select an object and then embark on a short online experience. Each one is original in its own way. A seamless combination of video and creativity makes this site exciting because the possibilities moving forward are huge.
Site by Amanita Design
If you haven't seen or played Samorost, you should probably take a look at that first. It's a point-and-click adventure game that was a huge success back in 2003. Since then, Amanita Design has followed up with Samorost 2 and some other wonderful games. However, this latest launch is possibly the most anticipated. Needless to say I was excited to receive news of this game. I am an old-school video gamer from the days of the original Atari and Commodore games like Monkey Island. Machinarium deserves success because it's a point-and-click adventure game with such intricate detail and personality that you can't help but be won over by it. Point and click away.
Site by Nick Joore
I get the biggest buzz when a site made by an individual wins an FWA. This site for a game programmer and 3D artist is a total delight. Even the loading screen allows you to shoot cannon balls at the characters. To enter the site, you need to focus the cannon on the target and fire. Then you are inside the world of this very creative individual. You have so many things to explore here that I suggest you waste no time and board the flying ship. This is a classic example of how to get noticed online. Don't create a one-page portfolio, like everyone else. Go the extra mile and make something completely unforgettable. It could change your life.
Site by artegence
If you don't have any 3D glasses, I suggest you go get some. They will come in handy not just for this site but for so many more as the web goes 3D. This site does have a 2D version, but the 3D experience is fantastic. The most impressive part of this site is the 3D film, entitled "Run." What makes it even better is the high-definition version of the video, which is about a man running through various scenarios and eventually ending up on a beach in a Streetfighter-style fight with the Grim Reaper.
Site by Saizen Media Studios
A great way to finish up this column is with some true eye candy. This site can seem heavy when it's loading, but it's worth it. The level of attention to detail is great on this site — even the preloader uses a range of colors. We also see a custom cursor, which is quite rare these days. This is a promotional site for a nonalcoholic energy drink, and developers have managed to capture the different flavors by way of water, earth, air, and fire. Each bottle has some very cool motion graphics and sound effects along with its own narrated story. At the end of each story, you get to "embrace the element." Some might say this site lacks substance, but I feel it promotes this brand perfectly. I'll certainly never forget it.
The selection of sites in this column shows that it's not always the big brands and budgets that have the ultimate power online. Sites by individuals can be just as memorable and sometimes even more so. Also, I would like to point out how individuals make the most of recessions. When the dot-com bubble burst, we saw a heap of experimental work from individuals. We then had a drought for a number of years. But this latest recession has given us yet more creative work from individuals and small teams. The Machinarium game is a perfect example. It was created by a small team that could have used more funding, but without it, the drive was even more passionate. That drive and dedication can make a recession almost nonexistent for those who have the ability to keep their heads down and focus on their goal, regardless of what is going on around them.
Wishing you all the best for 2010. Expect the launch of a brand new thefwa.com very soon.
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.