In depth

National Geographic - A bear’s-eye-view of Yellowstone

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a bear living in the wild – foraging to bulk up for the winter months, shaking off after a dip in a cool stream, hunting and being hunted, being spied on by curious tourists, and seeing some of the best views not accessible by humans? For the first time ever, National Geographic has those answers.


Working with Nat Geo’s team of editors, journalists, producers, and researchers we aimed to create an immersive story driven site that could feature all of the footage captured by special camera collars worn by the bears as the navigate Yellowstone National Park. Early on in the process, we were captivated by the detail in storytelling and inspired to build a journalistic narrative that could feel like an extension of their physical magazine.


Concept

The concept was inspired by those working in the field using journal entries like sketches and small annotations to record their findings. We aimed to create an engaging narrative designed with a single scrolling page site to reflect National Geographics increase readership on mobile while also having an editorial feel through the use of pencil lines and small detailed illustrations.


Below you can explore the details of hand drawn watercolor illustrations, pencil-drawn portraits, animation schemes and tryouts.


Exploration of loader animation.

Loader

Inspired by the copper stitch style used for editorial, we wanted the loader to fit with the pencil line illustrations. We wanted to create sketches that would not be pixel heavy and we tried to explore how we could create this animation in as few frames as possible. To achieve this we also looked at the natural movement of the bear as well as the bears avatar image and decided that the key movements should be done only through the legs and not the entire body.


Along with the illustrations, the loader was also inspired by copper etchings commonly found in commercial printing from the early 20th century. When animating the bear, we wanted it to feel as natural as possible but we also had to keep the amount of drawings low. We decided on 4 key poses and to apply two inbetweens maximum, leaving us with 10 drawings to sequence.


Scheme for loader animation.

Hand drawn illustrations

We wanted to introduce each chapter with hand drawn illustrations using different mediums and tools like pencils and watercolor masks to capture the bear in its environment. However, we felt that original the style tryouts were too refined and ‘curated’. We eventually landed on a more simplistic sketch style that appeared organic and effortless - as if the sketch was pulled straight from a field researcher’s journal.


The final illustration style in water color.

Type:

Experiences

Client:

National Geographic

Deliverables:

Development, UI, UX, Concept

National Geographic - A bear’s-eye view of Yellowstone

We partnered with National Geographic to create a digital storytelling experience that chronicles the journeys of four bears living in Yellowstone park. Following two grizzlies and two black bears using collars equipped with cameras and GPS trackers, researchers and Nat Geo, readers get an unprecedented look at the life of a bear – from a bear’s point of view.

Working with Nat Geo’s team of editors, journalists, producers and researchers, we curated impactful visual content to create an engaging online narrative focused on the distinct paths that each bear roamed. The result is a mobile-first scrolling experience that allows users to navigate through a custom, interactive map.

Combined with expert analysis from researchers Kerry Gunther and Nate Bowers, delivered as intermittent audio captions, we gain a deeper understanding of the bears activity as uncovered by the POV footage and their unique characteristics.

In depth

01

Concept

02

Loader

03

Hand drawn illustrations

Project awarded:

The Webby Awards

Websites - Best User Interface
Websites - Best User Interface, People's Voice


One Show

Websites, Gold


Creative Circle

Digital - Informational Sites & Apps, Gold
Craft - UI, Gold


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The FWA

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