webpick of the week
This web-presence is part of what was a covert collaboration with explorer and filmmaker James Cameron and his exploratory journey to Earth’s deepest point—the Mariana Trench.
The Mariana Trench is almost seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface and the descent into it is an extremely dangerous endeavor. Only once before in history have people risked their lives to travel to this destination where light doesn’t penetrate and the pressure can be about a thousand times what is experienced on land.
Like launching the Space Shuttle, the dive took place when weather and oceanic conditions made it safe. Since it happened with little notice, the primary goal of the site was to gather contact information through a short form so people could be notified to tune-in when the live event occurred.
This site simulates the experience of piloting the sub. A vertical scroll and layered elements give the site the appearance of depth that can be utilized to dive deeper and deeper into the content. Descending into the sea, the sunlight dims behind informational content flanked by animations of the divers, the sub, research robots and sea life until the rocky outcroppings and the bottom of the trench appear.
• The planning phase began in mid-2011 but the project was on hold while Cameron’s team finalized technology and performed test dives. In early February 2012 the submarine moved to the final location and test dives began. The dive was completed in late March.
• The biggest challenge of the build was to make the fluid, educational and entertaining site stable enough to launch with only a moment’s notice.
• A combination of HTML5 parallax and Flash animations draw visitors into the depths of the expedition.