DX Award :: Thomas Popinger


Thomas Popinger’s photography portfolio is one of the most interesting sites we’ve reviewed. Still photography, by its nature, is not a motion graphics or audio art form, and yet the Popinger site threw away the dull traditions of the past and used the Net as a medium for the experimental. Sound and motion are seamless merged in a heavily Shockwave and Java-based presentation.


ARCHIVED DESIGN AWARD PAGE :: 1999 DX AWARDS

This page is republished for historical and archival reasons, highlighting the history of online design and the work of some of the many talented individuals who were instrumental in the early days of online media.


We are honored to select Thomas Popinger as this week’s recipient of the IPPA’s Award for Design Excellence.


Thomas Popinger’s photography portfolio is one of the most interesting sites we’ve reviewed. Still photography, by its nature, is not a motion graphics or audio art form, and yet the Popinger site threw away the dull traditions of the past and used the Net as a medium for the experimental. Sound and motion are seamless merged in a heavily Shockwave and Java-based presentation.

From Hamburg, Germany, Popinger proves that one photographer from among thousands can express his art and talent on a global scale through the Net. And the reason it works is that Studio Popinger was sharp enough to call on the talents of one of Germany’s finest design houses, FORK Unstable Media.

Before you begin your journey through the Popinger pages, consider the power of the main menu — in effect, a motion graphics presentation that follows your mouse. It sets the tone for the interactivity that follows — you move your mouse, you control the image. Then, just click on either the New York or the Vienna links and you’ll get the full experience. Rolling text, a photo portfolio presentation that puts you, as the viewer, in control, plus the unquestionably urban feeling of the sound and imagery, bring you to an immediate and full understanding of Popinger, his style, and his art.

Within one minute, you know everything you need to know — short of Thomas Popinger’s phone number — and yet, the presentation still pulls you forward. You travel inward, deeper. Time stands still. The repetition of sound, image, and color push you slowly into a trance. And in the end, you spend 20 minutes or more viewing the site — not bad in an era where most surfers don’t see more than four pages before they move on.

Graphically, the layout is edgy, crisp, powerful, and colorful. It is strong, yet does not overpower the imagery. It is also ideally attuned to the target audience — businesses and ad agencies who would hire Thomas Popinger for their photo work.

A couple of imperfections will bother the designer’s eye: 1) the site is really designed almost exclusively for 800×600 pixels (but then, most of the folks how might hire him would have bigger monitors and better video cards anyway); and, more importantly, 2) the bottom FRAME contains a wood paneling that is both poorly rendered and an example of design schizophrenia at its worst. In the midst of the grime and razor harshness of the urban landscape, why wood? Why a repeating pattern? What happened to the color palette of bright yellows, reds, and oranges from the FRAME above? Graphically, it just doesn’t make sense. It seems a throwback to the backgrounds of Web 1995.

Nonetheless, beyond this minor imperfection, this site stands as a beacon for where the industry is going. Shockwave on every desktop, motion graphics merged into the flat presentation styles of the past, and sound playing an integral part of the revolution. This is the future, and if you don’t have Macromedia Director in your bag of tricks, you’ll soon be left behind.

Before we wrap this up, take one final look at the copy. This stuff is so New York (Hamburg?), you’ve got to live the edge to even understand it. Each phrase is part cliche, part poetry, together artfully composed to add depth to the imagery, but with a shallowness in message that is strange. The resulting composition has an undeniable appeal. But then, this is Popinger’s work itself. The angles, the lighting, the power of images and blur — urban, modern, and graphic (in the other sense of the word).

The Commercial link is strong, well-conceived, and good in its own right, but pales beside the other two presentation sections. The motion graphics are gone, there is no sound, and the edginess that dominated the other areas is all but extinguished. Nonetheless, the imagery sells both itself and Thomas Popinger, so it remains a worthwhile surf.

Bottom line: hire this photographer. Hat’s off, Thomas Popinger and FORK, you’ve nailed this one on the head.

Scoring (10 is Maximum):

      Graphics Design…….. 9.2
      Programming………… 8.5
      Content and Copy…… 7.9