Sightsmap

Using geo data from photos uploaded by users to Google’s Panoramio, Sightsmap generates an interactive heatmap of the most frequently photographed spots around the world. It reminds me a little of the Heat Map I made back in 2006, which could be applied to any geolocational data (including photos).

2011 – The Year Everything Changed at FWA

Up until February 2007, FWA had almost entirely been awarding Flash websites. For 7 years, every day, a new Site Of The Day (SOTD) was being announced and it was always, almost completely, Flash deployed. The team at Ogilvy Singapore changed everything when they submitted Levi’s Copper Jeans and it went on to win SOTD on 21st February 2007. This site still stands shoulder to shoulder with the best non-Flash sites of 2011 and will always stand out as the seed of change at FWA.

For the next three years we saw the occassional plugin free site win an FWA but in 2010, the playing field was destroyed when The Wilderness Downtown landed on the FWA judges. The interactive short film immediately earned its place in FWA history as it went on to win Site Of The Year (SOTY) for 2010. Whilst raising a lot of eyebrows amongst some of FWA’s hardcore fans, I know personally and amongst the judges for SOTY that there was no doubt that Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait” promo site had raised the bar to a level we were not quite expecting.

2011… when everything REALLY DID change at FWA

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The do’s and don’ts of Flash

This article was originally published on the Firstborn site on July 1, 2011, and is written by my buddy and Flash guru, Zeh Fernando:

The do’s and don’ts of Flash

Zeh Fernando, senior developer at Firstborn, rounds up the ultimate do’s and don’ts of Flash to explain how we can improve our workflow to create powerful, rich online experiences more efficiently.

Developing fully interactive websites is an amazing experience whose technology is in a current state of change.  We’re not only seeing big changes in terms of platforms used for that purpose – HTML5 anyone? – but also in the workflow employed when developing those (so called) rich websites.I think that Flash is a particularly acute example of the latter.  The platform has evolved a lot through the years, not only in regards to what it can do, but in how one should do it.  In that sense, the rich online experiences we create can now be more powerful than ever, so here’s a few pointers on how to get it done a little more efficiently.

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Flash Video Smoothing

While working on a new project for era//404, I received a great tip from Zeh, my Flash Obi Wan whom you’ve no doubt read me gushing about in the past. The site (which will be launched at the top of 2010) is centered around a video loop. The loop began as a 208MB raw Quicktime video clip shot by one of era//404’s video directors/editors, Greg Stadnik (you may remember his work from our Beautiful Children viral video that was featured in Gawker and AdRants last year). The clip was then scaled in 1/2, compressed using the On2 VP6 codec, imported into flash and then manipulated manually.  The final SWF was 3.12MB, but the quality suffered terribly.

This is when Zeh clued me in to video smoothing. It’s the same principle as bitmap smoothing, since embedded video clips are technically just an image sequence. The result was night and day. The left half of the below screenshot shows video smoothing set to true, where the right shows smoothing set to false.

smoothingFigure 1. Video Smoothing – Click image for larger/detailed version

Note that this is just the beginning of this site with the radial gradient and scanlines stripped away to accentuate the smoothing detail. Overall, it’s an easy way to preserve quality without increasing loadtime, memory or processor demand. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was by the result.

DKLB BKLN

era//404 recently had the privilege at working with the branding gurus at CO-OP Branding to develop the site for DKLB BKLN, a new luxury Brooklyn property. The site features specifications about the units and amenities, an urban exploration of Fort Greene and a host of pictures, renderings and data about the property and surrounding area.

DKLB BKLN - Intro Animation, by era//404 Creative Group, Inc.

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Make any image into Google Maps, with UMapper

I’ve been following the success of UMapper (formerly GMap, provided by the good folks at AFComponents.com) since a client of mine asked era//404 to build a dating search with results based on proximity around a geographic area. And while the site has taken a slightly different direction since then, UMapper piqued my interest. In their latest newsletter, they cited creating Google Maps-style widgets from any image. And sure enough, it works!

I started to think of all the useful applications this could have for my companies and clients. For instance, Lyrek CEMS, which manages our clients’ contacts, events and venues, could plot their contacts on a world map. Clients seeking geographic searches (such as the dating site, previously mentioned) could now brand and custom design their national or global maps. Game developers and Facebook Application developers could use this functionality for GeoDart Games and MapWikis. And who is to say that the map has to be a geographical representation of land? Any application where a user would want to plot points of interest/note on a 2D plane would work: It could be a hi-rez scan of an organ or anatomical figure for physician studies, or a zoomed micro electron slide of pond water for biological research. The possibilities are endless.

And with AFComponents/UMapper’s analytics tools, you can also create surveys, questionnaires, tests/quizzes, census studies and a whole host of other information-gathering applications.

Watch their video, here: