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Interactive Annual 16:


Launch Live Site

“I love being surprised by a site’s performance. This site shouldn’t be so smooth but it is. The design is great and the idea is effective.” —Mathew Ranauro

“A nice approach to presenting information on an important topic with a thoughtful and well-executed navigation system and an appropriate visual treatment. Every design decision clearly takes hints from the fluid nature of water and the music and sound design help to bring the experience to life.” —Nikolai Cornell

Overview: Waterlife is the story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on earth—The Great Lakes. Taking all the major content and themes from the award-winning documentary and combining them with Flash, Papervision, memorable sound design and an amazing soundtrack, it tells the story of the extreme state of distress that the Great Lakes are in and how it affects the water that 35 million people drink every day. The site contains clips from the movie, interactive content and illustrated animations; it’s an online experience that caters to those wanting a visual and audio experience as well as those interested in finding information on the topic.

  • • The site is comprised of 22 sections and a home screen made up of hundreds of images depicting the Great Lakes. There are over 1,300 files living in 130 folders with 4 levels of depth.
  • • The navigation concept is based on a free-flowing, water-like interface in which exploration feels smooth and effortless, like swimming.
  • • The site continues to spread virally; there have been over 3,000 tweets and 9,000 inbound Facebook links.

Comments by Adrian Belina, Mark McQuillan and Pablo Vio

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The National Film Board wanted us to craft something that would reach an audience beyond those who are just interested in water issues. They wanted us to reach people that might never see the film and to create an interactive experience that could stand on its own from a creative and educational perspective.”

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “With Waterlife the difficult task wasn’t targeting one demographic, but many. The film’s content is geared towards environmentalists; its message is one that everyone should hear. We wanted to reach as wide a variety of people as possible so in addition to the environmentalists, we targeted digital enthusiasts and design-oriented people as well. Those whose initial intent for coming to the site was to explore a very creative and polished experience were kept engaged with extensive content, powerful music and interactivity. It was this audience that would push the site out to people who otherwise would never have seen it.”

What did you like best about this job? “For us the creative conception stage is always the best part of any job, particularly when you’re told not to hold back on creativity. Our direction was to kill it creatively and technically. Being given carte-blanche and then taking it from concept to completion was immensely satisfying, especially with a site as unique and technically challenging as Waterlife. It’s what we live for in interactive.”


Brendan Good, art director
Gelareh Darabi/Tammy Everts, writers
Adrian Belina/Pablo Vio, interactive creative directors
Mikko Haapoja/Aaron Morris, interactive developers
Mark McQuillan, interactive technical director
Kevin McMahon, director
Spencer Hall, Pirate, Toronto/Steph Pigott, Pirate, Toronto, sound designers
National Film Board of Canada, producer
jam3 (Toronto, Canada), project design and development

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