For over ten years, a panel of judges pulled from the ranks of advertising agencies and brand marketing teams have sifted through the best the web can offer on a daily basis for the Favorite Website Awards (the FWA). Their goal? To highlight a single online property that exemplifies cutting edge creativity as Site of the Day. Rounding out the year, the international panel of judges select one site as FWA’s Site of the Year. And in 2012, that honor went to the interactive documentary Bear 71.
ARGNet previously covered Bear 71 when it was introduced to the world as a featured installment at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier. The 20-minute documentary follows a collared grizzly bear, tagged as “Bear 71″, as she travels throughout Banff National Park. Visitors to the site experience the wildlife of the forest through Bear 71′s perspective, narrated by The L Word‘s Mia Kirshner. The data-driven project taps into trail cams, animal tracking tags, and photography to tell a story customized to your exploration of the Park, its wildlife, and its many human intrusions.
More than a few transmedia campaigns we covered here at ARGNet have been selected as the FWA’s Site Of The Day. Prometheus, Daybreak, Tap Joint, and Byzantium Tests all received Site of the Day accolades from the FWA. But for the 58 international judges on the 2012 selection committee, Bear 71 stood out as the best of the year.
FWA’s founder Rob Ford praised Bear 71 for its ambition, noting “In a year when we have seen so much experimental work, so many agencies and clients focused on just trying to be cool with mobile, I was delighted to see a real idea and a powerful story win this year’s Site Of The Year.” Ogilvy & Mather judge Corinna Falusi praised the campaign’s design choices: “I especially love that the interactive and fragmented style of storytelling in Bear 71 does not act as superfluous artistry – it truly helps the film makers create a deeper narrative totality. People have been discussing the possibilities of interactive film for decades, Bear 71 is one of the first examples of a director getting it right.”
To experience Bear 71 for yourself, set aside 20 minutes to explore the documentary, but be prepared to spend a few more minutes exploring elements of the map you might have missed the first time around.
Tonight, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards held its annual awards, where the Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Original Interactive Television Programming was awarded to Fourth Wall Studios for their interactive program Dirty Work. The Emmy-winning show is a dark comedy featuring an LA-area clean-up crew as they go about their grisly business, featuring guest appearances from everyone from Metta World Peace to Kid Creole. Dirty Work is built off Fourth Wall Studios’ RIDES platform that integrates telephone calls, text messages, and user input to add a layer of depth to the viewing experience of the episodic web series.
Also nominated for the award was USA Network’s Hashtag Killer, and What’s Trending with Shira Lazar. Hashtag Killer is an online murder mystery built around USA Networks show Psych that allows players to virtually chat along with Shawn Spencer, Burton Guster, and the rest of the cast of the show while hunting down a serial killer who methodically stalked down and killed the top-scoring players in the Hashtag Killer experience. The game was built on the SocialSamba platform and linked to fans’ Club Psych accounts. What’s Trending with Shira Lazar combines online news articles and video broadcasts to provide a direct feed into what’s popular on the internet. The show recently accepted a grant from YouTube’s Next Lab, bringing more live and interactive content to the show.
The Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Fiction category has historically been friendly to alternate reality games, with the Fallen alternate reality game winning in 2007, the Heroes Digital Experience winning in 2008, and The Dharma Initiative winning in 2009. In 2010, Star Wars Uncut was the final winner for the category, before the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories were combined in 2011. This year, the Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media award was split into two new categories: original interactive television programming, and enhancement to a television program or series. Team Coco’s sync app won the program enhancement award.
Congratulations to Fourth Wall Studios for their win, and head on over to RIDES.tv to check out Dirty Work and the other interactive programs the team has developed.
Making an independent film is an expensive proposition that can become even more costly for innovators interested in integrating transmedia storytelling into their projects. Increasingly, content creators are turning to crowdfunding services like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to produce their passion project on a budget that doesn’t require maxing out credit cards. This fall, thanks to a partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative, the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) will provide four to eight filmmakers exploring the new media space with $50,000 – $100,000 in grants per project, making the calculus a bit simpler. Applications are due on May 21st, with the final decisions made by September 30th.
TFI is looking for non-fiction projects that focus on issues relating to contemporary social justice and equality. According to Beth Janson, Executive Director of TFI, the ideal project would have a compelling story that focuses on creating a unique and engaging user experience. Janson explains that one of the key issues facing the industry is how to “look at the audience, and reach out and engage with them” in a self-sustaining manner.
More than merely creating an alternative source of funding for projects, the Tribeca New Media Fund aims to partner with the grant recipients throughout the process, leveraging the TFI brand to assist the project through its dissemination and launch. In turn, the grant recipients would share their experiences through an open-source platform for filmmakers and technologists to provide a peer support network and develop best practices. As Janson explains, the goal behind this initiative is about more than supporting the grant recipients:
Beyond being able to fund projects, we wanted the program to be a service to independent filmmakers and technologists to learn about best practices in the field…we’re looking to start those conversations and build those bridges to tap into the independent film community, and marry that with the technology world.
The Tribeca New Media Fund is intended for projects in the advanced development process and beyond. While foreign projects are eligible to apply, all proposals must be written in English, and all sample work must have English subtitles. Be sure to check the TFI website for answers to frequently asked questions and the official rules and regulations.
Looking for an example of the kind of project TFI is looking for? Check out the Emmy-nominated film Collapsus, which merges a documentary about the pending energy crisis merged with a peek into our near future through an interactive film set in the near future. If your project isn’t ready this year, don’t fret: JustFilms has committed to increase the fund’s initial $750,000 endowment by $1 million a year for five years, so you’ll have ample time to prepare for next year’s application.
This October, after the 2010 London Cross-Media Forum, Power to the Pixel will be holding The Pixel Market, a chance for producers to pitch transmedia projects to industry heavyweights and to compete for the £6,000 ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize. The application deadline is August 6, 2010, and extensive instructions are available at the Power to the Pixel site.
Taking place after the October 12 Cross-Media Forum this year, The Pixel Market is a brand new two-day showcase for cross-media projects and is supported by the Media Programme of the European Union, ARTE, and the BFI London Film Festival. On October 13, Power to the Pixel will hold The Pixel Pitch, a public event at BFT Southbank. At The Pixel Pitch, twenty qualifying international teams will present their projects to the public and to a roundtable jury of financiers, decision makers, and judges. Ten of these producer-led teams will qualify to present “in competition” for the £6,000 ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize.
This month, winners are being announced for the third annual MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition, who will share over $1.7 million in funding to pioneer the use of games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, and social networks in education and learning.
Launched in collaboration with President Obama’s Educate to Innovate Initiative, the Learning Lab Designer Awards will fund learning environments and digital media-based experiences that encourage young people to grapple with social challenges using activities rooted in the social nature, contexts, and ideas of science, technology, engineering, and math. The Game Changers Awards, to be announced at this month’s Games for Change Festival in New York, will recognize creative levels designed for either LittleBigPlanet™ or Spore™ Galactic Adventures that offer young people learning opportunities and engaging game play.
Yesterday, the winners of the 14th Annual Webby Awards were announced, recognizing excellence in “interactive design, creativity, usability and functionality on the Internet.” This year, a trio of alternate reality gaming projects came home with accolades. So congratulations to the teams behind Love Letters to the Future (Xenophile Media), District 9 (Trigger LLC), and True Blood (HBO).
Love Letters to the Future swept the Green category, taking home both the Webby Award and People’s Voice Award for the category. The campaign sought to collect messages from the worldwide community to future generations: the top 100 messages were buried in a time capsule at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on December 13, 2009. Providing an interactive undercurrent to the already interactive campaign, Xenophile Media hid a series of clues and messages from the future on the website, culminating a series of augmented reality images hidden at locations across the globe. To read more about the alternate reality game designed for Greenpeace International, you can follow along with the game’s progress at the Love Letters to the Future blog.