Riney Re-navigates

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Supplanting the standard portfolio, executive biography and mission statement elements that comprise an agency website, San Francisco-based Publicis & Hal Riney's redesigned homepage applies more fanciful, innovative uses of Flash technology.

While the aforementioned components of an agency site are intact, they're masked under a gray background, rumbling sub-bass sound design and most significantly, a mutating sea of red ink that ebbs and flows from either a mouseover or more notably, movements in front of a webcam. "I went to the [Flashforward] conference where I learned about all these different technologies and it got me thinking when I got back, how do we infuse this into an idea," explains Riney art director Rikesh Lal. "Among other things, there was this Flash element on how to control your computer with a Wii controller and all these different technologies. We thought it would be awesome to have an agency website that was as cool as the work."

The site re-launch coincides with the reinvigoration of the Riney name, considered somewhat of an old-fashioned brand in the industry according to chief creative officer Roger Camp. "The gist of it started when we were trying to signify that there was new blood at the agency. ( I was appointed) a year ago and Jamie King, was elevated to CEO about nine months ago; the website up to that point was pretty horrific. The good and bad of inheriting the Riney name is the legacy that it's had. But also now, with new media and just trying to [modernize] the company, we wanted to make sure that people knew that things were different from the status quo as it had been for years at Riney."

Assisting in the Riney site reinvention was U.K.-based production company Clusta, which recently opened a Los Angeles office. "We just started fishing for people that would be interested in doing this," says Lal. "In doing an agency website, there's not a whole lot of money behind it. So, our producer had actually heard about these guys Clusta. We talked to them about this idea of ink that moves back and forth; your hand gestures would affect that and you could access the work that way. It was something they hadn't done before either, but they thought it would be cool to do as well."

Even though Lal admits that the refinement of the technology is still ongoing, especially in syncing the user's gestures and the sensitivity of the red ink on the site and in each section, it still adds another creative twist to Flash use. "It was really figuring out how it technically works and making this ink move, so what Clusta did is took a big aquarium and filled it water and put this red dye in it," says Lal. "We did this whole process of shooting all these different effects and playing with this dye which we then took to AfterEffects. We then created each gesture having a different movement for the ink."

According to Camp, there are plans to add a few tweaks and enhancements to the site in the comings months, some with a little cheeky humor added. "We have some other stuff that we're developing with Clusta that could launch on the site later which is where you could virtually slap us around. It's almost Wii-like in the technology where we were recording our faces getting slapped left and right, so depending on which way you move your hand, you could literally bitch-slap us around the screen. Now that we've got the base template up and running, we're going to keep dropping in these little nuggets."
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