"With its sleek and elegant design, intuitive navigation, photo-realistic 3-D and the amazing integration of 3-D video and Flash, this site raises the bar for the entire automobile industry. It's hands-down one of the best automobile sites to date." —juror Ian Coyle
"Gorgeously illustrated and elegant with a clean design." —juror Paula Willard
Overview: The BMW 3 Series site introduces the latest version of the familiar vehicle. Using Flash and 3-D video technology, it offers a series of intimate features, including a virtual tour, a design-a-car application and numerous demonstrations.
• 50 3-D rendered transitions
• 55 photos and 35 videos
• 3-D effects created in Maya, rendered in Flash
• Full-screen video backgrounds
Comments by Andy Gugel:
"To put it simply, the BMW 3 Series invented the sports sedan category and has continued to redefine it ever since. It’s obvious that the new 3 Series is a remarkable machine; it became immediately clear to us that the site had to be equally impressive. Our objective was to redefine what an automotive experience is supposed to be, and to make it happen online.
"At the time it was hard to find an automotive site that didn’t feel segmented with regard to product intimacy. We decided early-on that the site had to feel like a single, unified experience. We wanted to encourage multiple levels of exploration, but never wanted visitors to feel like they were leaving the space surrounding the car.
"To achieve the kind of experience we wanted, we created a highly visual, full-screen site. The decision to use video as the primary background seems like a fairly reasonable approach now, but at the time it was relatively ambitious. Serendipitously, around the same time, we learned that BMW had begun recreating all of their vehicles digitally (instead of photographically), so our desired direction quickly turned into an achievable reality, since working in 3-D offered us more flexibility than a photo shoot. We moved forward choreographing and storyboarding every transition. At the end of the project, 50 unique renderings had been created, providing us with the comprehensive experience we were seeking.
"When approaching the design for the site, the inspiration actually began with the car itself. How everything looked and functioned had to be a direct extension of the vehicle. The design of the new 3 Series had such an understated simplicity that it was necessary for any design element or piece of navigation to have a purpose. Since anything more seemed to interfere, the chosen interface came down to a simple navigation panel that sat over the background visuals. To take it one step further, we minimized the navigation panel and offered the option to collapse content in order to maximize the full-screen. At any time, a user can sit back and appreciate the car in its full capacity.
"At the time of the official launch of the new 3 Series, the site had already received over a million unique hits and increased traffic to bmwusa.com by 50%. A month later, BMW reported that sales were three times greater than they'd originally projected."