The Broadband Journal, the beginning

So where did it all start. The Journal was born out of a previous project, the Broadband for Business video. A three minute long motion graphics clip, composited in After Effects.

We we’re keen to use flash as a key animating tool, if you use it you’ll know how quickly you can achieve top results with none of this ‘Render time’ that you get in video.

So we decided that it would be cool to do the majority of the animation for the motion graphics in flash, and export them for use in After Effects.

The key thing we’ve found with motion projects is to keep the flow between client and production.

How can we get the client assessing/approving the content, as we passed it to the motion graphics guys.

They needed to be kept up to speed with the progress and be able to review the animations online. So the journal was born!

The original Journal

It started simply as a way of showing the day to day progress of the project – check it out - http://www.broadbandforlife.com/originaljournal

It actually helped on a many levels, from work flow to educating the client on the volume of work involved in such projects.

It was great fun to put together, really crude in the construction, but worked well and made a cool production record.

So what next?

The client really enjoyed the appeal and reality of a Journal, visually it stimulated some interesting discussions. What if we could express experiences of Broadband in a Journal? Show how people are using Broadband? What they use it for? How it’s changing our internet experience?

So the brief began to create itself. We wanted to use video – make it involving. It had to have a clear purpose, to help stimulate the demand for broadband within Wales – take up has been good, but are people really utilising its potential?

We couldn’t lose sight that it’s a Government funded project, so we needed to tick a few boxes. It had to appeal to a wide audience across the country so had to work in both English and Welsh, which meant any stories needed to translate well, be relevant and work.

Feeding the target

We knew that the most important and sometimes the hardest task would be gaining empathy with the audience, get them to relate to the stories and be inspired enough to read more and have a go themselves.

We needed to spin stories around several topics, cross demographics and even boundaries – how best to do it and what angle to take – that’s where the Joneses come in.

Enter the Joneses

Broadband is changing the way we live and how our families interact and develop, so let’s show how their experiences of the internet are evolving and impacting on education, work, travel, learning and discovery.

So we began to write some thoughts down, knocked some ideas about with their PR guys and started to bat about some scripts and plan the shoot with our buddies Jo and Justin at Wordleys.

We knew that flash had to be the best medium – on and offline, it would allow us to construct an engaging image rich experience, and we wanted to do something interesting with video, get the clips into cool environments, maybe mask them – really include the video as an integrated part of the scenes.

The shoot

So with the writing complete, the project broken down into 10 stories, casting and rehearsals done, we had 3 days of shooting for all the clips, dual language, in 2 locations!

A bit hairy but we were up for the challenge (some of the production stills can be found on the Dad's pc desktop in scene 10 - try and find them).

We completed all the post production and audiodub over the next few weeks then it was over to the design/production team to bring the stories to life in flash.

Bringing it all to life

We started each scene as rough sketches (some can be seen on the useful links page), and we met with the client and discussed the visual content to surround each clip.

We wanted to keep the fun level high, and produce some really layered Photoshop imagery. That was a really great part of the project, we love PSD files.

The layered files we’re then chopped up as individual .png files and re-compiled in Flash, then animated accordingly.

Illustrator was used quite heavily to build some of the vector artwork then brought into Flash. We had a pretty open brief for the visual elements, and we tailored the Welsh language version accordingly, even adding Windows XP in Welsh. It was quite a mammoth task, but well worth it.

The back-end

The back-end was quite extensive, but with some help from our good friends Ben & Dave at Innivo we got there in the end.

We wanted to add a level of sophistication and again fun for users.

The stickies were cool, building them all and getting them to interact with the page - so you couldn’t drop them on the videos or over hotspots.

We also wanted to assist any returning users by allowing them to continue from where they left off. Not wanting to get hung up on passwords or logins, or be able, legally, to collect emails, we opted for a simple nickname system.

See the ‘This Journal belongs to…’ window on the index page. The hotspots text was another part altogether. Written with a simple, real voice tone, it’s there to guide the viewer and work as a Journal entry, added by different members of the family each time.

These popup boxes are populated with a simple html based text file, which was really easy to edit and flow into the info boxes.

Encouraging dial-up users

A part of the original brief was to make sure that users still on dial-up had an encouraging and resourceful insight into the Broadband experience - http://www.broadbandforlife.com/journal/dialup.

We wanted to avoid the usual ‘C’mon, what are you waiting for!’, or ‘Dial-up is rubbish’, and offer real examples of how the families life or more accurately their experiences online have been enriched by a Broadband upgrade.

That was quite a challenge in itself, when you’re so used to Broadband, you don’t like to think about what it used to be like, some of those are painful memories!

The perfect balance

In general through lots of blood, sweat and cheers over an 8 month period, from conception to completion. Using all the weapons at our disposal from Studio Max (the house navigation tool) to Sorensen Squeeze (we had to use Flash Player 6 compatibilty so OnVP6 was out of the picture :().

A mix of subcontracting and in-house, we tried to form a whole team with specialities in all areas TV, 3D, back-end etc. it was important to get an effective balance between what we could achieve from our design team, with good out-sourcing.

About the Author, Owen Johnson
Co-Director, MoseleyWebb

So a bit about us, you can hunt me down on www.moseleywebb.com. Along with my co-director Richard, we run our agency out of Cardiff Bay, South Wales, with a good chunk of our work in London (its only 90 minutes on the train!).

We try to get involved in a variety of projects. We’re all about design, content and messages really, with a background in print. We’ve been in the game for about 18 years.

Constantly impressed with the level of flash development the world over – from Sweden to Singapore, it's great to be a part of the exciting flash buzz.

The public and our clients are starting to take it seriously! It has to be the most powerful method of delivering compelling content online to date. Everyone out there - keep up the good work!

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