Comm Arts Gets Deep
I'll say it again because it's so freakin' sweet — Our DEEPSEA Challenge website is being featured in the summer issue of Comm Arts! This is truly an honor considering only an elite group of sites (approximately six) get featured by them annually. Well thank you Communication Arts! You sure know how to make a girl feel like an angel in your centerfold.
The purpose of the site itself was rather momentous. On March 26, 2012, National Geographic Explorer James Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to the Earth's deepest point, the Mariana Trench. The descent into its depths was an extremely dangerous endeavor. The website was built in secret and we needed to be prepared to launch it at a moment's notice. Just like for the launching of the space shuttle, weather and oceanic conditions had to align properly for the event to safely take place. Only once before in history had anyone risked their lives to travel to the Earth's deepest and darkest destination where light doesn't penetrate and the pressure can be about a thousand times what we experience on land.
The DEEPSEA Challenge website we ended up with is pretty darn sexy. It is a combination of HTML5, parallax and Flash animations that draw the visitor into the expedition's murky and mysterious depths. Since the momentous dive could have happened with little notice, the website's goal was to gather visitor's contact information through a short form so they could be notified to tune-in when the live event was occurring.
Visually the website simulates for the visitor the experience of piloting the DEEPSEA sub by moving down the page. The vertical scroll and layered elements give the site the appearance of depth that is then utilized to dive deeper and deeper into the content of the site. Descending into the sea, the sunlight dims behind informational content that flanks animations of divers, the sub, research robots and sea-life until the rocky outcroppings at the bottom of the trench appear.