by Rob Ford
For this issue, we tour a random selection of sites that I feel are noteworthy on many different levels. I'm hoping that these sites will inspire and provide a glimpse of what you can achieve with Flash.
Site by tha ltd
I find the work coming out of Asia to be the most exciting on the web, with Japan and South Korea leading the way. This site from Yugo Nakamura's company, tha ltd, is a prime example. It uses progressive levels of scripting and forward thinking to showcase a like-minded company in an innovative way.
Check out Experience Uniqlo Explorer for the most experimental part of the site and notice how a grid is built out of the clothes collection of this company. Now click one of the thumbnails and notice that the high-resolution image of that particular item is now visible. Click that item again to return to the grid and notice how the grid now forms the visual appearance of the clothing item you just viewed, built with thumbnails of the clothing line in matching colors.
This is advanced and intelligent design — maybe too advanced for some — but this type of creative thinking and experimental work has fuelled many web designers' imaginations and earned Nakamura a place in web design history.
We're staying in Japan as we enter this next site for a Tokyo-based animation studio. This virtual world captures the user's attention immediately and combines brilliant visuals with complementary sound effects and ambient music, thus creating the perfect atmosphere for this type of site.
Click the moving city to enter another impressive 3D building, packed with numerous superb animations.
While this site is available only in Japanese, the quality of the animations leaves the visitor in no doubt of the stature of a company that can produce such work.
Once you have visited this website, you won't forget it.
This site is awe-inspiring. It's a full-screen experience that plays out as a video packed with motion effects of the new Audi R8 — a car that boasts groundbreaking innovations and now has a website to match.
The site has interactive and informative areas, but the true experience is in the video and 3D motion effects. Some will argue that this is not a website; it's a video. Where do we draw the line? Do we need to draw a line?
Whether it is a video or a website, this is a pioneering promotion that offers a glimpse of the next-generation websites with high-impact video and visual effects that we'll see in 2007 and beyond.
This is indeed progress through technology, or Vorsprung Durch Technik, for the Audi faithful.
The creative mind
Adobe has a reputation for producing industry-leading software, but the company hasn't been known for creating outstanding promotional microsites. This has always puzzled me because I thought the two went hand in hand. However, in the past year, Adobe's web presence has greatly improved, especially with the acquisition of Macromedia and the fact that Adobe is working with some of the most creative agencies in the business. The Creative Mind, a promotional site for Adobe Creative Suite 2.3, is the one of the best microsites I've ever seen.
This site can be a heavy load, depending on the quality of your network connections, but once it's loaded, feast your eyes on some wonderful creativity. This is a site for those who love to explore, with three animated worlds packed with hidden treats and corresponding content.
Explore and enjoy.
For those who just want to reach the content fast, you can click the I Want To link in the quick menu at the bottom of the page.
Site by Jonathan Yuen
At FWA, we are sometimes criticized for not showcasing enough sites from individuals, especially personal or portfolio sites. Even though we do receive a large number of good portfolio submissions, they are all very similar; they're not edgy or original. It takes a special personal site to stand out from the crowd. Such a site must possess that X factor that others lack.
Here, Singaporean Jonathan Yuen shows us the epitome of personal portfolio websites with delicious transitions and clever yet subtle animations.
The site's navigation isn't very user-friendly but the beauty of a personal website is the ability to get creative and be experimental, especially if you are looking to impress your peers and potential employers. Agencies love experimental portfolios when they are recruiting.
Click and explore while enjoying the hummingbirds.
Cork up your sandwich
Another visual treat is from a Swedish cheese spread manufacturer. Pick up tube caps and drop them down the pipe. It's as simple as that, with the end result being a number of truly stunning scenes, packed with vibrancy and color.
If I dared use the term cute for a website, it would be now.
Site by Visual Jazz
This site for the Royal Australian Navy must have been an epic production. You get to explore in great detail a day in the life aboard the HMAS ANZAC, one of the world's most advanced warships. It's slightly reminiscent of the early Sims games, where you can actually follow individual recruits (3D characters) around the ship.
The attention to detail is first class, and video footage adds a sense of reality to the whole experience.
Stella Artois – Le Défi
Site by Lowe Tesch
We finish up this issue with a wonderfully produced campaign site for Stella Artois, which offers an interesting challenge for you to solve alone or with friends.
Le Défi (the Chalice) is locked in a major mechanical trap. There are six ways to disarm it. You can either challenge a friend to a duel to see who can disarm the trap first, or explore the trap yourself. The 3D production on this campaign is out of this world, and each challenge is difficult enough that you could be playing for some time.
I hope you have enjoyed this mixed bag of sites and that they have helped get your creative juices flowing, no matter what line of work you are in.
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.