Empowering the human story with design & technology.
The Goggles are award-winning storytellers and creators working across a variety of media—print, film, online. The National Film Board (NFB) produces and distributes films and media which “reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world”. Working with The Googles and NFB, we helped translate the story of Pine Point into a highly interactive digital experience.
The NFB was producing a story by The Goggles about a town that no longer existed. Content acquisition was nearly complete, the art direction was coming together, now they needed someone to make their vision real and to guide their narrative process through the possibilities afforded by the online medium.
How could the technology be pushed to create narrative innovation while still maintaining the vision of the authors? What new storytelling possibilities did the digital space open up for this particular story? What were the technological limitations and how could they be overcome? And how do you make sure that, in the end, the technology melts away, allowing the human element to shine through in a clear and honest way?
Working with the original storyboards and assets created by The Goggles, we used an agile development process to explore the unknowns and drive creative innovation around the technology and story possibilities. We initially focused on small sprints of rapid prototyping to quickly test ideas, throwing away what didn’t work and further evolving what did. Together with NFB and The Goggles, we worked together under a common vision. After a few weeks of this iterative back-and-forth, the team evaluated numerous prototypes and we were ready to move into production.
The project utilized a massive amount of content—music, sound, text, and video—that needed to be optimized and integrated, even as The Goggles were continually refining the vision. Things changed almost daily. It was a traditional programmer’s nightmare, but we are anything but traditional. We believe that the human interaction comes first. We worked closely with the creators—really close, they literally sat behind us sometimes, breathing over our shoulders—to craft the best experience possible with the most flexible production process possible. The process itself turned out to be quite a wonderful experience in the end.
Sometimes, as you work on a project, you don’t fully appreciate how special it might be. Such was the case with Pine Point. When we started, we knew it had the potential to be something great, but at the end we shipped it and moved on to the next great project.
And then the critical acclaim and kudos started rolling in. Pine Point went on to win some of the highest honours in our industry, including two Webbys, over a dozen international awards, numerous news articles, and features in many film festivals.
Looking closer, what really strikes us about this project is not the fancy technology, the hip music, or the great writing. What makes Pine Point so special is the insight into human nature, the characters, the questions about the meaning of community. Experiencing it again with fresh eyes and ears helped us affirm that, ultimately, great stories are really just about ourselves. And that’s what makes great stories like Pine Point so universal. Sure, the technology helps, but technology is really at its best when it just gets out of the way.