The Unconformity is an arts festival inspired by a rare geological unconformity and the remarkable cultural paradoxes of Queenstown, a small mining community in Tasmania’s wild West Coast. The website strongly reflects the emotive sense of place in Queenstown, using photos of the iconic geography and geology, and glitch effects on interactions as a type of ‘digital unconformity’.
Our design for this website created some interesting frontend development challenges and the opportunity to create backend functionality to assist with the editing user experience.
On the frontend, we used a number of effects to help communicate the strange beauty of Queenstown, the geological formations and the paradox of the West Coast. Glitch effects are used as hover states on images and on transitions between pages. On images, the content of the image is ‘glitched’ in real time in the browser by corrupting image data and writing it to canvas, providing a different experience for subsequent interactions rather than the more static experience of a faked glitch approach. For page transitions, a photograph of the geological unconformity the festival is named for is used as the glitch content.
The header video is encased by photographs of Queenstown’s famous geology, using HTML5 canvas to cut out the image while keeping the total page size as low as possible. This approach allowed the use of JPEG image compression, rather than the much heavier PNG compression that would have been required to have actual transparency in the image.
In the backend, we created new functionality in Wagtail to transcode video files to the required formats for HTML5 rendering, so that content editors don’t need to have software to do it, or understand the complex requirements of video encoding. We also created a new “annotated image field”, providing an intuitive interface for editors to plot points of interest on the interactive illustrated map. Video transcoding has already been released as an open source plugin for Wagtail, the annotated image field will be released after some work to genericise the functionality.