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.
A bear walks through the Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies and is ensnared in a trap where she is tranquilized, tagged, and collared with a GPS device. She has now become Bear 71, and joins a group of wired wildlife who document the interactions between nature and their increasingly encroaching human neighbors. Bear 71 is a new interactive project produced by the National Film Board of Canada’s digital studio, and includes an interactive web documentary site, a social media microsite, and a live installation piece that launched in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival.
The main part of the project consists of an interactive web documentary created by NFB’s Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison, which introduces viewers to Bear 71 and then drops them into an interactive map of the Park, where they encounter other wired creatures that live in Bear 71′s home range: golden eagles, Big Horn sheep, wolves, and deer mice, all similarly tagged and under surveillance. The animals’ movements can be seen as they move about the park, and clicking on their markers reveals a video feed and information about the animal. Viewers can click on their own marker as well, which launches a group of surveillance feeds including their own (the site requests access to the viewer’s webcam and microphone, which can be denied) and any other viewers who happen to be browsing the site at the same time, tagged and tracked like the animals. Landmarks such as the freeway and railroad that run through the park can be seen, cars and trains moving on them as the animal’s markers cross back and forth, highlighting one of the project’s main points: when technology and the wild intersect, it is often to the detriment of the wildlife. There are also video feeds and observation points marked on the map, showing actual pictures and videos from their real-life counterparts in the Park.