Kiley Bates is a New York new media producer who came to us with her idea for an online film festival, ManiFestival. The moment she first described her vision for it, we were on board. ManiFestival would be a site done in Flash that would showcase independent digital film and video shorts. Recognizing the awesome potential the web offers for online distribution of short digital films , we knew we had to be involved. Kiley expressed her desire for a site that would both reflect the artistic focus of ManiFestival and be a functional quick-download, navigationally quick design.
Hillmancurtis.com's art director Ian Kovalik and I worked in tandem to create a site we regard as one of our best. It's urban, with its shots of subways, mysterious , and a little dark. The problem was that after we had designed it, its performance was not up to our standards. The subway shots, taken from video, were heavy and slow to download and that affected the user experience, since the user couldn't interact with the site until everything was downloaded.
What we decided to do was to try to structure the site so that the essential elements, the interface, and the navigational elements would download first. This is crucial because we wanted to give the user immediate access to all areas of the site. Once the interface and navigational buttons were downloaded and functional ( roughly three seconds on 56.6), the heavy subway footage would be downloaded in the background.
It was easy to come to this decision. The hard part was going to be pulling it off. For this, we turned to Fred Sharples of Orange Design. Fred and I have a long history of working together, and his company, Orange Design, has established itself as the preeminent shop for Flash 4 programming as well as Macromedia Generator programming.
After I saw what Fred and his team came up with for the ManiFestival site, I decided I had to include it in this book. This chapter offers insight into the mind of one of the leaders in Flash programming. That said, I'll turn you over to Fred.