“Surprisingly immersive interactive storytelling. The raw energy of the photography and user experience makes you feel like you’re flipping through an underground zine from the print days. Really well done.” —juror Natalie Lam
“It’s not often that the quality of journalism and content meets the quality of the experience, but in Arab Spring Break, both exceed the norm.” —juror Mark Renshaw
Overview: In 2011, 21-year-old UCLA student Chris Jeon left his $9,000-a-month internship in search of a “real” experience. He ended up fighting with the rebels in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi—where things got real, and fast. UPPERQUAD took this true story, which originally appeared in Men’s Journal, and remastered it for the online publication platform Epic. This interactive website immerses readers in a new storytelling experience, where a sleek photo of Jeon’s family, beaming in Southern California sunlight, is only one scroll away from Jeon’s grainy video of Libyan sand exploding in a burst of rebel shelling.
•The project took ten weeks to produce.
•Arab Spring Break was launched in summer 2015.
•20th Century Fox optioned the story, and Epic is currently developing it into a movie.
Comments by UPPERQUAD:
Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “The scale and length of the story became a huge challenge. The sheer number of photos and videos we were using in conjunction with the different transitions between sections became a challenge. Since we customized each section to the story itself, we weren’t able to create a lot of reusable design patterns.”
Describe any special interactive features. “The main interactive feature is the scroll-jacking to alter the way scrolling works for the user. When Jeon enters Libya for the first time, the downward scroll starts moving from left to right, indicating the seismic shift in Jeon’s world. We also change the art direction to give a sense of place.”
What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “The navigation is very simple. The entire story is laid out on one page. However, we do have a small navigation bar following you down the page that enables you to expand and jump to different sections of the story.”