“This site does a great job of presenting a diverse collection of data and different points of view and the information design reinforces both the scientific nature and the human aspect of the experiment.” —juror Sophie Henry
"The content platform encourages visitors to explore connected videos, ensuring that all the different angles of the project are shared." —juror Madison Wharton Marks
Overview: This National Film Board (NFB) web documentary is a real-time window into the data behind a social experiment. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) recruited 2,000 homeless people with mental illness to take part in a coast-to-coast study that seeks to find ways of helping them get off the street permanently. The NFB is documenting the final two years of the study with a series of short films about the participants. This project trains its lens on the reality of homelessness in the five experimental cities by tracking participants and the health professionals who work with homeless populations daily.
• Until summer 2013, 5 filmmakers will direct 42 short films in each of the 5 cities to try to address the results of the experiment.
• Although the study has helped many individuals, many still struggle with the issues that led to their homelessness; additionally, participants have the right to withdraw their consent if they don't wish the film to be seen. Both issues can cause production plans to fall through.
• The site has a blog with weekly posts by experts and activists in the field and the NFB has partnered with the Huffington Post to feature a selection of the films.
Comments by NFB Digital Team:
What inspired the visual design and the presentation of content? "The inspiration for the navigation structure was an image of neurons interacting in the brain. Each of the five cities involved in the study was imagined to be a neuron, communicating with the others via multiple synaptic paths. The resulting design serves as a metaphor for the issue of mental health and for the exchange of information generated by the study. The design elements, transitions and animations are all coded with an element of randomness. Therefore, they are never quite the same (the site has evolved quite a bit since the first design mockups). The music for the site is also completely generative and randomized. There are no actual song files. Songs are constructed using a series of sounds with the same keys and beats per minute, allowing us to change the music without using fades but by transforming one song into the next, note by note. It makes the experience more seamless and less predictable."