Website Navigation Via Camera Tracking


The website of Publicis & Hal Riney uses camera-tracking in Flash for the navigation – the first website to use it as far as I know.

Although described by a Twitterer as “Minority Report-like controls” (can we stop using that as the yardstick please!), it’s really more like the method used in the EyeToy Play.

I want to tell you it’s great and I’ll never want to navigate an old-skool website with a mouse again, but it isn’t and I don’t. The disconnect between my image (there in the bottom right) and the things I’m controlling (the arrows in the main part of the screen – you can see one on the right) destroys the most important part of any camera-tracking/multi-touch navigation: Because I’m having to mentally re-map the spacial relationships, the body as the affordance and direct manipulation of camera-based interaction is lost.

Besides, the mouse-based menu is a lot nicer to use and better designed.

They deserve kudos for giving it a go – and probably being the first – and the site itself uses the old ink-in-a-tank technique to great effect. It’s a nice job in Flash, but sadly the camera part is a novelty rather than ground-breaking – I soon went back to the mouse version.

The video loops of the head honchos talking on their mobiles is very cheesy agency style though. I’m pretty sure we’re beyond the time when talking on a mobile signifies you are important. Either that or my 13-year old nephew is running a multi-million dollar business.

[tags]camera tracking, navigation, Flash, Hal Riney, Publicis[/tags]

iSmoke – How wrong? Very.


I walked past this ‘iSmoke’ ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes the other day. How wrong? Let me count the ways…

  • It’s lazy creative. This is a one-minute lame idea that borrows everything from someone else’s campaign, badly.

  • The type is wrong. Apple use Myriad for the iPod campaigns (and most other marketing) now. It’s also badly set.

  • iSmoke – what kind of message is that? I think it’s a response to the partial smoking ban here in Germany. The right to kill yourself and others around you is highly regarded by many.

  • The equation of the Lucky Strike packet to the iPod? That’s part of the one-minute lame idea. Bored creative sitting in the pub with iPod and cigarette packet on the table sees easy idea.

  • The deliberate youth targeting.

  • The possible attempt to obfuscate the health warning.

Any more that I have overlooked?

Not that I really want to see more cigarette advertising, but I haven’t seen anything that’s remotely clever for about 20 years. It’s as if the ad industry has just given up on it being a lost cause.

[tags]germany, ipod, ismoke, lucky strike[/tags]

IKEA Complete Bedroom


I seem to be having a bit of an IKEA theme going on at the moment.

Following on from the Dream Kitchen site there’s a nice new piece called The Complete Bedroom.

It uses the same kind of multi-angle video technique that the other versions use, though this one is simpler. It has some nice quick-cut segments as you switch between each bedroom to contrast the hectic lives of those we are observing with the relaxing bedroom zone.

In terms of interactivity it’s very simple and the charm is really down to the filming and music, which is what ad guys are good at. But I think it’s a good blend of digital and traditional approaches.

[tags]IKEA, flash, video[/tags]

IKEA Dream Kitchen


The multi-camera technique that freezes a moment in time, but allows you to pan around in space (popularised as bullet time in The Matrix, but it has quite a history) seems to be being used all over the place in Flash micro-sites now.

Now that Flash handles video and images so well, it’s interesting to see people try and use that ability in original, navigable ways rather than just putting a TVC on the web.

The folks over at Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden have been going great guns with it on the IKEA Dream Kitchen site, which allows you to move around various styles of kitchen as they are frozen in a moment in time. They also did a Swedish version (that I think might be from 2006), which is simpler, but I like it better personally.

The same technique was used in the Halo 3 launch site by Method Studios.

(The picture above isn’t really a great example because it looks like an ordinary picture, so you have to imagine being able to move around the space – or you could just [look at the site](] yourself).)

[tags]interactivity, play, IKEA, Flash[/tags]

Sorry Goodby, Silverstein & Partners!

Thanks to Jim Coudal (I love the giant ‘Finally’ on at the moment too) and Sidney Bosley from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for commenting and correcting me on who developed that interactive Adobe banner ad that I just posted below. It was Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

It’s nice when the interweb works properly and conversations (and corrections) happen. It reminds me of how lame print media can be in this regard sometimes (even though I write for a magazine. Google alerts really are handy (I assume that’s how you guys found it?).

So, for my penance, please go and take a look at the very lovely work on GS & P’s site and, of course, ‘watch’ Layer Tennis. It all kicks off (wrong sport, I know) on September 28th.

Interactive Banner Ad from Adobe


I interacted with a banner ad today, and actually enjoyed it. Adobe’s Creative License campaign is currently on display at Coudal Partners’ Layer Tennis page and is a clever bit of unobtrusive and playful banner advertising – I’m shocked to even write that sentence.


It’s a good integration of the message and a decent pun, but it’s also a sweetly made tiny little interactive experience. Basically the slider reveals more or less ‘crazy creative stuff’ with a little audio. I must have slid the slider back and forh, oh, at least four or five times and I even clicked on it to go an visit the predictably over-glossy microsite, which I soon bored of.

If that sounds like it isn’t much of a triumph, have a think about the last banner that engaged you. I can’t think of any. It’s nice to see people thinking a bit more creatively (appropriately for the brand) about these things.

The campaign was developed by Oops, CS3 conference conference development by Trekk Cross-Media, but the banner was by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

[tags]adobe, banner, interactivity, trekk[/tags]

Second Life is like an empty restaurant

I wrote a post a while back about how dull I thought it was that Adaptive Path were researching Second Life (along with many, far too many, media academics). I still don’t ‘get’ Second Life’s appeal, but maybe that’s from experimenting with virtual worlds long ago and not finding much difference 12 years on.

However, Chris Anderson just wrote about why he gave up on Second Life and points to an article by Frank Rose that he commissioned for Wired. It’s called How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life and pretty much confirms the anecdotal evidence that once you have, in the words of the article, “put in several hours flailing around learning how to function in Second Life, there isn’t much to do.”

The hook and hype of Second Life is that it is new, to most people. But once you’ve experienced the tedium of a virtual world that’s mostly empty it’s like an empty restaurant at 9pm on a Friday – you don’t bother going in.

Long ago, my first job as an intern was on the Virtual Nightclub. It was clear even then (1993 I think) that you go to a nightclub to listen to music (which you could do in the VNC), but mainly to meet, try and seduce or merely gaze at other people. The Virtual Nightclub had a smattering of people, but they were static and didn’t do anything or speak to you. Needless to say, it wasn’t a brilliant success especially as the time it took to produce it mean that all the music and styles were out of date when it was released.

Second Life strikes me as a similar phenomenon – I know there are ‘real’ people in there and some people seem to have sex chats with each other, but as the Wired article points out, you never really see a crowd (which is a limitation of the software engine). (Granted the sexual activity in Second Life, er, scores where the Virtual Nightclub didn’t.)

I’ve often talked about this ‘new tech’ problem with interactive artworks and installations too. When the newness of the technology – rather than a smart or creative idea – is the drawcard it dates and becomes boring very quickly. Germany’s ZKM has a whole collection of pieces like this – awful blocky avatar heads reading newsfeeds about politics in a robot voice, for example. I can’t help feeling that Second Life is heading for the same fate.

At the very least, chucking ad dollars into it without really knowing what or why you are doing seems to be the usual approach of advertising folks desperate to be on the bleeding edge. To me it Second Life feels like a feeble ‘dad’ version of a multi-user virtual space for people who don’t ‘get’ MMORPGs.

The 12 Kinds of Ads in the World

Lynx Ad.

I don’t really blog about advertising or marketing, though it seems to be one the most popular blogging subjects. I usually read Iain’s Crackunit for witty insights into the digital arena too.

But Seth Stevenson’s There Are 12 Kinds of Ads in the World is a great analysis of TV advertising genres along with some classic spots (mainly courtesy of the world’s video archive, YouTube). You’ll end up playing spot-the-format from now on.

It reminded me a great deal of George Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations, which still remains a classic foundation of many a plotline, which is as good a place as any to start if you’re thinking of writing fiction, by the way.

Via Social Design Notes

Tiny phone. Not.

This e-mail flyer from Act Now contained this gem demonstrating not only a ridiculous fear of litigation, but also a lack of understanding of resolution (because it could be actual size depending on your screen):

Very small Nokia phone

The Worst Windows Ad ever

This promo for Windows 386 is combination of a terrible product and hilariously awful creative. I suppose they thought a rap would make it all, you know, crazy and creative. Sorry about the pixellated poster frame, hit play and it will all work nicely. It’s half porn film, half revenge of the nerds, Microsoft style.