Q&A with Jam3 on Waterlife http://waterlife.nfb.ca

What is Waterlife?
Pablo Vio: Waterlife is the story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on Earth. The film is directed by Kevin McMahon and co-produced by Primitive Entertainment and the National Film Board of Canada. To compliment the film, Jam3 created the interactive site http://waterlife.nfb.ca

Tell me about how this project came to Jam3?
Pablo Vio: We received a phone call from Robert McLaughlin, Assistant Director General, Digital Content and Strategy at National Film Board, he had seen and heard about Jam3 and thought our combination of creative and technical would be a perfect fit for the job. Waterlife was really rewarding for us as we were able to come up with all the creative for the site as well as develop it.

Was there a creative brief?
Pablo Vio: No creative brief was given to us. The National Film Board wanted us to craft something that would reach an audience beyond those who are just interested in water issues. They wanted us to be able to reach people that might never see the film and to create an interactive experience that could stand on its own, from a creative and educational perspective.

To create the site, we were provided with footage, music and research from the film. We then just let the creative juices flow. We worked closely with the National Film Board to develop content for all 23 sections of the site and were also lucky enough to collaborate with the film’s director, Kevin McMahon who came by or studio on a number of occasions.

Tell me about the how you approached this project creatively and technically.
Pablo Vio: It was important to us to stay true to the theme of the film, so creatively we went with a fluid relaxing feel as it was the right tempo to present such a topic. We really wanted users to walk away from the experience with a deep understanding and an emotional connection to the state of the Great Lakes and how it effects everything around us. The creative really evolved through the breathtaking cinematography and content but our goal always remained to translate the film into a high level interactive experience using some cutting edge techniques within PaperVision 3D.

Adrian Belina: With the inclusion of film's amazing soundtrack setting the mood, which includes music from Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, Tragically Hip and composer Phillip Glass, we also enlisted the help of Pirate Toronto to add their flavour of sound production to really add and enhance the visual experience.

Mark McQuillan: Supporting all of our creative team's requests is usually a challenge, but with Waterlife we knew that they were going to be throwing the kitchen sink at us so we tried everything differently at least five times - some things exceeded 20 different approaches. Technically this project pushed the limits of Flash and we were constantly trying to make things cooler, less processor intensive, smarter and more intuitive for the user. There are small corners of the site that have more coding in them then we sometimes deliver on an entire web site. As Pablo mentioned, the site makes good use of Papervision and includes a lot of hardcore actionscript programming. The site itself is massive and took three intense months to code.

Were there any major challenges?
Pablo Vio: Making the site light as a feather for all computer types was definitely a challenge but I have to say the making of an online experience that was equally as captivating as Waterlife.

Is the state of the Great Lakes something you were familiar with?
Pablo Vio: The environment is definitely something on the fore front of my concerns. Not only the environment of today but the environment of tomorrow and how that will effect the lives of our children’s children. It's important for all of us to be aware of the decisions we make today could effect us in ways we never new possible.

What did you like best about this job?
Adrian Belina: For us the creative conception stage is always the best part of any job, particularly when you're told not to hold back on creativity. Being given carte-blanche and then taking it from concept to completion was immensely satisfying, especially with a site as unique and technically challenging as Waterlife. This is what we live for in interactive.

Pablo Vio: This is a hard one to answer because there are so aspects of this project that I really enjoyed, but I think the one thing that resonated with me is being part of a project that can educate and motivate people to make a difference.

Project: National Film Board of Canada / WATERLIFE
url: http://waterlife.nfb.ca
Film Director: Kevin McMahon

Interactive studio: Jam3, Toronto
Creative Directors: Pablo Vio & Adrian Belina
Technical Director: Mark McQuillan
Flash Developers: Mikko Haapoja & Aaron Morris
Art Director: Brendan Good

Copywriters: Gelareh Darabi, Tammy Everts
Sound Effects Design: Steph Pigott & Spencer Hall, Pirate, Toronto




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