Frontier Development Lab

At a human level, it is interesting to consider how the work done in the FDL Program could save lives in the immediate future — which put everything into perspective for the whole team.

- MediaMonks Team

Can you describe your project and the concept behind it?

The driving idea behind this project was to humanize a complex subject: the study and understanding of space. We sought to develop a worthy home for an anthem video and three-episode docuseries, and to offer information about the purpose of the Frontier Development Lab Program and the researchers behind it. Together with Google Cloud, we chose to go the immersive, experiential, and inspiring route in terms of look and feel and user experience.

Tell us about your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype. How did things change throughout the process?

Our focus was on the anthem video and the three-part docuseries focused on the Earth, Moon and Sun, as we knew these films would be the most relatable, human, and concise way to share the information we wanted people to understand. When it came to the website production, we wanted the films to come through strongly there as well, which brought the overall experience to the next level.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

At the outset, we spent time diving into the background and details surrounding the FDL Program — and this discovery phase was key to determining how to craft the narrative — breaking down the complexity in an artful way. We didn’t start with a script or visual moodboard, as our process was an ongoing learning experience. Trusting the collaboration and our intuition along the way helped us expose vulnerabilities and areas of opportunity.

What web technologies, tools, and resources did you use to develop this?

We used VueJS as a front end framework, which gives us the flexibility to create a seamless experience and works great with all the animations we wanted to do. The Earth, Sun and Moon are created with custom WebGL shaders in our own WebGL Framework — which allowed us to make sure everything worked perfectly together. Some of the most notable elements are the Javascript animations and the Sun, Moon, and Earth WebGL sections.

When did you experience a breakthrough or an "a-ha" moment during this project?

There wasn’t an ""a-ha"" moment, but rather a collection of little moments that laddered up to insight. We achieved many small victories, crucial in getting to the next step. In the early stages we needed to understand how to create a balance between humanizing the technology and explaining essential technical elements. This balance helped us achieve a visual approach for the films, and built small insights that informed the next step.

How did you balance your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

With many partners involved in making this work possible, we recognized the importance of running an exercise to balance the branding aspect of the project both for the films and the website. We all agreed that the Frontier Development Program needed to be the hero on all the deliverables with some strategic hints at how Google Cloud and Intel have a similar affinity for Big Data, which ultimately led to the partnership with the NASA FDL Program.

How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations?

The subject matter involved in this project is fascinating. Understanding how this somewhat “invisible” technology — Google Cloud — is able to break down massive amounts of data to enable scientists to reach breakthroughs at a much faster speed is incredible. At a human level, it is interesting to consider how the work done in the FDL Program could save lives in the immediate future — which put everything into perspective for the whole team.

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

High-quality content and differentiated digital experiences have been the cornerstone of advertising and marketing strategy for a while now. 2020 ushered in the rapid acceleration of digital transformation, and it's never been clearer that a digital-first approach is paramount. It's an exciting time to double-down on new technologies, innovations, and approaches, a practice that's core to MediaMonks' passion.

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