Saturday, December 15, 2012

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Website vs. App Experience

The increasing popularity of mobile applications has redefined how people engage with the internet. Over 5 billion apps were downloaded in 2010 alone and in many ways the whole transformation is still in its infant stage. As a designer, there's a noteworthy trend that's worthy of attention, and it revolves entirely around the user experience.

Here's a few examples to illustrate what I'm talking about:

Techcrunch - Website and iPhone App

eBay - Website and iPhone App
RBC - Website and iPhone App

Now it certainly doesn't take a genius to see the correlation here. It's a transition to minimalist design at it's best, and people are loving it. Applications are easy-to-use, efficient, and convenient, while many websites continue to look bloated and confusing by comparison. So what does this mean for the future of web design? Will the user simply continue to accept the differences between site and app, or will this new minimalist trend soon become the norm on all devices?

Tom Green of TutsPlus, makes an interesting argument in his article Future Trends: Are Browsers Becoming a Thing of the Past (read article) that the entire web browser as we know it is bound to be extinct if the current mobile trends continue as expected. His idea is based on the connectivity of mobile, and the rapid increase in usage:

"Today, not being able to wirelessly connect is more of a an annoyance than anything else. Our devices- smartphones, tablets, TV’s – have become extensions of ourselves and we simply assume we will always be able to access information at the time, place and through the device of our choosing. Even airlines are offering their passengers online access at 36,000 feet. In 2009, Quantcast surveyed the mobile market and concluded that by 2013 mobile browsing will outstrip desktop browsing. Other findings included the fact that in 2009 U.S. mobile web usage grew by 110% and globally the number was even larger: 148%."

For many companies, online identity has become entirely disparate when you compare their mobile and web-based structures. The website is becoming the corporate housing for information - containing things like press releases, vision statements, security protocol, and product comparisons. Whereas the mobile experience is clean, personal and task-oriented.

I disagree with Green however, and believe that the desktop browser is not destined for extinction, but rather overdue for change. Take the Chrome app store and the Mac app store - two of the biggest companies in the world are pushing the world of apps onto the browser, but it is not killing it, only diversifying what a browser is and how it integrates with desktop computing. One only has to look at sites like the Huffington Post and compare it the Huffington Post Browser App to see the transition into minimalist, app-like design beginning to take place.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Behind the Scenes of the Stop-Motion Animation, Wapos Bay

I had the luxury today of meeting up with some old buddies from back in the video production days. I knew they were up to some pretty amazing stuff, but I didn't know how amazing until I seen it with my own eyes. They're currently involved with the production of a TV series and feature movie called Wapos Bay - a stop-motion animation that follows the lives of a Cree community from Northern Saskatchewan. If you've never seen the show, there are lots of short clips online for you to enjoy.

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There's no shortage of prep work that goes into an episode of Wapos. In the short time I was there, I witnessed a crew of very busy people including sculptors/painters, photographers, writers, editors, 3D graphics techs, etc. Every little detail you see is handcrafted and the shelves of props, puppets and structures are seemingly endless.

Here's a video highlighting a few photo studios within the production facility:

The set design offers the photographers a decent amount of flexibility with angle/framing. All of the shots are taken by hand using modified Nikon DSLRs that are tethered to iMacs. To avoid slight inconsistencies between frames, the cameras must be modifie
d to prevent aperture flicker. Special effects are done using Adobe After Effects and 3D environments are constructed using Maya, but only when they can't be done by hand.

There are some pretty ingenious lighting setups as well. In each studio a generous amount of diffused light coats every set. There are trusses of lights hanging from above, and light stands in every nook and cranny imaginable.

If you're looking to learn more about stop-motion animation there are a number of great resources online like this one. Although I'm a big fan of recent advancements in animation and 3D rendering, I definitely have a soft spot for the meticulous craftsmanship behind stop-motion productions. So make sure to check out an episode of Wapos Bay, and see how all of this hard work comes together.