Oktobor wins website award
Press release from Well Above
According to Oktobor’s Creative Technologist Mark Zeman, the brief from Ambience Entertainment for the new Erky Perky website was simple, “Create an all seeing, all dancing website as good as the TV show.” Says Zeman.
Erky Perky is Ambience Entertainment’s hit animated TV series featuring two quirky insects, Erky and Perky, who live at a hot dog stand, but are accidentally taken to a house. The show focuses on Erky, Perky and their fellow bugs hunting for food in the house’s kitchen.
Zeman explained, “We pitched and won the job based on our interpretation of Ambience’s requirements for the website. Ambience wanted a high quality site that very accurately represented the TV show. They also wanted to increase engagement with the show’s audience and we worked in partnership to make sure all these key needs were met.”
Zeman and Oktobor Digital Design Director Matt von Trott set to work driving the process forward. “Erky Perky Director David Webster and Producer Barbara Stephen have a very clear vision for the characters and this is a large part of the show’s success. So, in order to see the vision clearly, the first thing Jeff Nusz our Lead Developer, Mark (Zeman) and I did was watched lots and lots of episodes of Erky Perky. By doing this we got a really good idea of what would work for the website and that’s when we pitched the kitchen idea.” Added von Trott.
Zeman and von Trott devised a concept whereby the audience could explore the house’s kitchen through the website, getting to know the characters in their own environment.
“Our aim was to take the audience inside the world of Erky Perky.” Said Zeman. “We used the kitchen as a metaphor for their world and the website as a gateway into it.”
The brief dictated that the look and feel of the site had to be consistent with that of the TV show. “We spent a good deal of time getting this right, however it still needed an engaging interactive element so we devised an idea for a multi-level game where there were incremental rewards for the audience.” Said von Trott.
The Oktobor team not only pitched the game idea to Ambience but also ran it past a particularly tough focus group. Zeman explained, “We all asked our kids what they thought about it. There’s no better focus group and they loved the idea. Quite frankly you can’t get away with producing crap for kids so we knew we were on to something – then we got to work developing it.”
Bearing in mind the level of quality and detail that was required, the Oktobor team paid particular attention to all of the characters including those who normally play more of a background role.
Jeff Nusz explained, “We created a cool delivery of information whereby rolling over a character meant they would speak to the audience. To achieve this we had to get to know all of the characters intimately, not just the main stars. We also created a Secret Club to keep the audience coming back. To enter the Secret Club you need to collect crumbs from different parts of the website. There are various ways the crumbs are discovered and collected, each interesting and entertaining in their own right. This was carefully constructed so the entire site has many facets and levels giving it greater depth and appeal.”
According to Zeman the project ran more like a partnership than a traditional client agency relationship. He said, “We had excellent interaction with Ambience and they were 100% committed to helping make it the best it could possibly be.”
The commitment from Ambience included scripting the interaction between characters to a very high level, giving Oktobor access to their entire library of Erky Perky assets and critically, creating animation, voiceovers and 3D shots specifically for the website.
“This level of cooperation is very rare indeed.” Said von Trott. “The voiceovers were done in Canada with the original actors and Ambience made their full 3D team available to us for the full duration of the website’s development. The reality was that Ambience, in essence, produced an episode of Erky Perky which we then turned into a website. This meant we had lots of information, excellent quality and maximum optimisation of animation sequences. The results speak for themselves.”
The Oktobor process embodied their creative convergence model bringing together all aspects of their digital workflow. “The technical aspects of this project were efficient and effective.” Explained Zeman. “We would have creative meetings, storyboard the site map and create the background plates while Ambience did the animated characters. From there we would produce a rough wireframe version before final animation and rendering. Then we’d use After Effects for compositing and generating other assets for the website.”
Erky Perky is the second website Oktobor has created for Ambience after it successfully won the pitch for Larry the Lawnmower. Mark Zeman concluded, “The biggest challenge with Erky and Larry was the translation of TV assets to a high quality website experience, all the while keeping true to the TV show. What we were able to successfully achieve by using our creative convergence model was ultimately rich and rewarding.”
The Erky Perky website also received the Favourite Website Award (FWA) Site Of The Day Award (www.thefwa.com). FWA is an industry recognised award program, established in 2000, showcasing websites who use cutting edge technology, together with inspirational ideas, that lead the way for future generations. Winning the award led to an increase in capacity on servers worldwide to accommodate over 100,000 additional hits to the site.
To experience the world of Erky Perky and to join the Secret Club go to www.erkyperky.com.au