New media marvels

Getting animated about this year's new media superheroes is CNMA judge and editor of the UK's Creative Review magazine, Patrick Burgoyne.

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A young boy lazes under a shady tree. Suddenly he notices something is very wrong: a great hole has opened up in the sky above him. What to do? Obvious really - the boy chases down a goat, lights a fire and has the goat squirt its milk into a bucket over the flames. As the milk heats and turns into yoghurt, a huge bubble is formed. The boy gently rolls the bubble back to his tree and floats it upwards. The hole in the heavens is thus healed and all is right with the world again.

What on earth does this have to do with new media? Well, this was the story of a wonderful piece of animation to which my fellow judges, Andries Odendaal and Tomato's Tom Roope, and I, decided to give the Grand Prix at this year's Construction New Media Awards. Khayalethu Mtshali's captivating film was all the more remarkable because he is still a student, enrolled in the final year of the Multimedia Design course at Vega, The Brand Communications School, in Johannesburg.

We three judges reached our ultimate decision after 12 hours of watching, clicking and arguing. While the outlying areas of Cape Town descended into power cut chaos, thanks to some preferential treatment for our downtown location, our computer screens hummed away with the finest new media produced in South Africa over the past 12 months. There was a time when exhibiting basic technical competence - like getting the thing to work - was reason enough to hand out a new media gong. Now, such elementary stuff is taken for granted. Instead, we looked for finely crafted, original solutions to communications problems and beautiful, engaging experiences designed to involve the viewer.

In the more commercial categories, we were particularly struck by a site for Samsung MP3 players created by Hellocomputer, which won the Online category and was the Grand Prix runner-up. The site was designed almost as a product in its own right, with a slick, icon-based interface. A complex sampling toy was very well crafted and displayed an enormous amount of sophistication - our feeble efforts at mixing being entirely down to a lack of talent on our part rather than any deficiencies in the software.

Other Online highlights included Molasses's site for production company Terraplane Digital, with its neat use of a sheet of folded paper as an interface and a scribbled swirl for a loading icon. We also enjoyed Stonewall's site for advertising agency, Lowe Bull. The interface used quite informal visual language, with hand-drawn lettering and basic animations. Often, ad agency websites go way over the top but this one was quite charming. Also from Stonewall came Whowhatwherewhen, a well-judged series of holding pages for FNB financial accounts, aimed at young people, which took the second Grand Prix runner-up spot.

Offline, we enjoyed Gloo's CD-Rom for ad agency Net#work. Set in a schoolroom, the interface was rendered as an old-fashioned desk. Although this was the eventual category winner, it was only after a close fight with a beautiful disc for Peruvian Wharf, a property development in London.

Motion graphics this year was dominated by student entries, with the winner, James Gray, and all the finalists still enrolled in education. As our Grand Prix winner, Khayalethu Mtshali, was also a student, the future for new media in South Africa looks bright indeed.

For a full list of the finalists and winners, see

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