1 Year Long Global Competition
44+ million site visits
365 Site Of The Day Winners
12 Site Of The Month Finalists
45 International Judges
2 Rounds of voting
1 Site Of The Year Winner

The FWA Site Of The Year 2010, winner:

The Wilderness Downtown

Chris Milk : Writer/Director

Aaron Koblin : Technology Director

A Radical Media Production

Interactive Production by B-Reel

A Milk+Koblin Project

Description: An interactive short film for Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" track, utilizing Google's Chrome Browser, Google Maps and HTML5

Credits: Chris Milk (http://www.chrismilk.com), Aaron Koblin (http://www.aaronkoblin.com), Google Creative Lab (http://www.google.com), radical.media (http://www.radicalmedia.com), B-Reel (http://www.b-reel.com)

Reactions from winner:

"We are honored to have been included among such a fantastic set of websites. This has surely been another amazing year for creativity and innovation on the Web. Undoubtedly, the growing adoption of HTML5 and advanced JavaScript via modern browsers will keep pushing the Web forward and bring new, never-before seen experiences to users in the coming months. We are proud to have worked with such an incredibly talented team of people. We will keep trying to push the browser to its limits in 2011, so stay tuned!" - Aaron Koblin & Thomas Gayno, Google Creative Lab.

"This is such a great honor. The Wilderness Downtown was a labor of love for everyone involved from start to finish. This award is only possible thanks to the countless hours clocked by an immensely talented and dedicated team. We are all truly humbled. Thanks so much to the FWA and everyone that voted." - Chris Milk

"The imagination and undying commitment Chris and his team of co-conspirators demonstrate never ceases to amaze me. Naturally it's incredibly gratifying seeing others appreciate and recognize it. All of us at @radical are very proud of him. Many thanks to the FWA." - Jon Kamen, Chairman and CEO @radical.media

“We feel humbled that out of these 365 projects, chosen by the 50 smartest brains of the industry, the Wilderness Downtown has made Site of the Year. It's unbelievable! Thanks to the great people at Google Creative Labs, Aaron Koblin and to Chris and his team, and of course to the people fighting for it at B-Reel...we actually made it. Hope to see you all at the afterparty! - The B-Reel Team

A few words from FWA Founder, Rob Ford

“For over 10 years now I have been judging site submissions to FWA, now with a great team of 45+ other judges. Every time I click on a new submission link I wonder, with anticipation, if the site loading in front of me will be a Site Of The Year contender. As the web has evolved it's become a very rare occurrence and only happens once or twice a year and sometimes not at all. When I clicked on The Wilderness Downtown submission link and the experience started I was totally floored... something I haven't experienced for years. I knew immediately this site would win SOTY and I am delighted that our industry panel agreed. Massive kudos for everyone involved with this unforgettable project and I hope others will be inspired to, once again, get super creative and push the boundaries in new directions so we see more of this hair tingling work in the future.” - Rob Ford

FWA judge’s comments:

Iain Tait, Wieden + Kennedy

"I didn't choose Wilderness Downtown because of some kind of anti-Flash pro-trendy-HTML5 sentiment. Rather I chose it because of all the entries, here is something that has genuinely changed the game. In a few short months it's become the most referenced piece of work that I can remember. And for good reason.

Using an amazing array of techniques the site draws you right into the heart of the song, evolving the pop promo from linear broadcast content into a highly personalized, multi-layered, experience. And it's not just tricksy technique. It uses Google Maps and Street View to create real moments of nostalgia and surprise. Really inspiring work that's re-set the bar at a new high."

Serge Jespers, Adobe

"Wilderness Downtown was the first HTML5 site that really caught my attention this year. Wilderness Downtown wasn't about one technology killing the other. It was about being creative and creating an interesting and unique experience. I think that's exactly what The FWA SOTY award is all about."

Kurt Noble, KNI

"This is the first online experience I've had in years that, literally, gave me goosebumps.   It was haunting to see my old neighborhood so beautifully integrated into the piece, to say nothing of the technical aspects of what I was seeing.  In an age of the status quo social media-driven blaze, what a wonderful experience to see someone pushing the envelope like this for art's sake.”

Michael Ferdman, Firstborn

"A site that did the most important thing ..kept their fans in mind first and foremost. Wilderness is a terrific use of the web as a creative outlet and made many agencies jealous they didn’t have the necessary ingredients for an SOTY- awesome client and special idea with exquisite execution."

Eliza Williams, Creative Review

"With its combination of technical ingenuity and genuine emotion, The Wilderness Downtown is a brilliant promo for Arcade Fire, that perfectly befits the song. At last we have a site that proves what we have all suspected for some time: that the internet can provide an experience that is as compelling and emotive as film."

Arto Joensuu, Nokia

"Ambitious, cutting edge, unexpected.”

Keith Smith, Microsoft

"A truly creative composition of technical wizardry refined by a sharp emotional edge of nostalgia."

Michael Lebowitz, Big Spaceship

"In a sea of sameness, Wilderness Downtown was a genuine surprise. An emotionally rich and thoughtful nudge forward for digital experiences.”

Stephen Nesle, Deutsch Inc.

"My jaded jaw dropped when I first experienced Wilderness Downtown. We finally have a tangible example of how technology, creativity and a little bit of magic turns the web into a truly memorable story telling medium."

Bert Hagendoorn, Adobe Systems Benlux, BV

“By choosing such an exciting approach to promote this beautiful track, the makers have created a technical and at the same time emotional masterpiece, simply outstanding.”

Daniel Bye, Orange

"Inspiringly creative, a total no brainer to take the honors for 2010."

Winston Binch, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

"This is a clever and inventive product demo. It’s personalized, entertaining, and showcases some of the cool things that are possible when you use the Chrome browser as media. Most impressive are the HTML5 animations. Marketers have been too reliant on Flash to tell stories and emotionally connect with audiences despite the fact that the technology doesn’t work across all platforms. This experience raises the bar for what you can do with cross-platform friendly code and may serve as a tipping point for a new round of digital marketing invention. It got the geeks excited like nothing else this year."

Phil Stuart, Preloaded

“A wonderfully reactive piece of that perfectly captured the burgeoning interest in HTML5 and rise of Chrome. A just win, highlighting the future potential of non-flash tech in delivering engaging experiences.”

Lars Bastholm, Ogilvy

“The Wilderness Downtown was not only a great showcase for HTML 5, it also hinted at a much more engaging and involving future for the music video in general.”

Miguel Calderon, GrupoW

"After what they achieved with Neón Bible, Arcade Fire returns with a
great way of showing a video, with an unique interaction, taking
advantage of Google tools in a memorable and fun way. An experiment
that really works and opens new doors to digital experiences.”

Richard Lent, agencynet

"It's not the technology, nor the music track – though both are outstanding… It's the superb and deeply personal interactive storytelling that resonate most with me.  Well done crew.”

Drew Ungvarsky, Grow Interactive

"Surprising, but more importantly, sentimental.  This one made the full rounds in our office and was an enjoyable experience."

Jared Kroff, RED Interactive Agency

“This is an extremely unique and surprising experience, where the storytelling is as innovative as the site is technologically ambitious.”

Tim Barber, Odopod

“2010 was the year of HTML's resurgence and this project set the bar for everyone.”

Jonah Bloom, Breaking Media

“I think The Wilderness was the best thing made last year, it transported me back to where I grew up, which is pretty powerful stuff, and I love the combination of open source technology and creativity -- few people are going to blend them to such emotional effect, but anyone could try.”

Per Hansson, Blast Radius

“I don't care what Steve says, Flash is not dead. But The Wilderness Downtown proved HTML5 is a very powerful contender.

It was one the most amazing web experiences of 2010, regardless of technology. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.”

Florian Schmitt, Hi-ReS!

“Sure, it's not perfect, and it certainly isn't your standard hi-end video flash production with endless social media integration, but it's got everything that got me excited about interactive, digital and the web 15 years ago. It pushes forward, it's a wild mix of things that you didn't think could sit together, and it comes out as one of the memorable pieces of 2010. And I don't even like Arcade Fire.”


The making of...

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