Interactive Annual 19:
Clouds Over Cuba
This atmospheric interactive unfolds the Cuban Missile Crisis in real-time (50 years later) and inventively syncs with mobile to continue the story across devices.
A good example of how visual and interaction design can be at the service of content. The application also has interesting features to help users take their experience across platforms.
To bring awareness to the events surrounding it, this site offers a detailed retelling of the weeks leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. At its core is a 25-minute documentary covering the crisis from its 1959 beginnings when Castro overthrew Batista. The story is condensed into a digestible, engaging format that includes 40-minutes of expert interviews on fifteen related topics, the entirety of JFKs secret ExComm recordings revealing the secret discussions that led to the deal that ended the crisis, and a 10-minute What If? film that offers an alternative scenario had the crisis escalated to nuclear war. As the immersive story unfolds, contextual material comes and goes, inviting users to delve deeper into history.
Concepting began in May, production started in July and the site launched on October 16th. In all, there were 6 months of concept and production time (during the heaviest production period, upwards of 70 people were working on the project).
The ability to drop content into a dossier for later viewing allows for a vivid, detailed experience without becoming overwhelming.
A real-time calendar offers users the ability to subscribe to a calendar of events, with real-time alerts (50 years later) and deeplinks to content.
Comments by Brian Williams, Wade Alger Erich Joiner and Ben Tricklebank
One of our goals in structuring the site the way we did was to give viewers a detailed yet concise retelling of the events of the crisis, and surround them with a wealth of contextual material they could engage with as they liked. We were careful to make the content feel rich and thorough, not overwhelming.
The main timeline is tied directly to the film so users navigate the video by datenot just through a regular scrub bar. We also created layers that can be drilled into to explore sub-content linked with particular moments in the documentary. The timeline moves in sync with the dates in the videos; the playhead will slow down and speed up to reach a date when its mentioned in the video and if the timeline is dragged to a specific date, the video will jump to that date.
I wouldnt call them obstacles per se, but we took on things that we dont often do, like sourcing archival footage for a 25-minute documentary and accompanying 40 minutes of expert interviews; creating a fictional alternate history scenario that's feasibly grounded in reality; and identifying nearly 200 related pieces of content. The research and organization was overwhelming at times but completed with the hope that visitors would appreciate having the content at hand.
Brian Williams, art director
Wade Alger, writer
Matt Gase, design director
Joe Alexander, creative director
Bartek Drozdz, interactive technical director
Erich Joiner/Ben Tricklebank, directors
Nicole Hollis-Vitale/Kristen Little, agency producers
Kristen Koeller, interactive producer
Dustin Callif/Oliver Fuselier/Steve Humble/Erich Joiner/Brian Latt, executive producers
Joy Kuraitis, integrated production director
The Martin Agency/Tool of North America, project design and development
The Martin Agency (Richmond, VA), ad agency
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, client