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Iran's ambitions as a regional power, its links to groups considered terrorist organizations, and tensions within the Iranian regime pose a range of challenges to its neighbors and the world.

Drawing on the insights of more than twenty-five leading analysts, government officials, and journalists, Crisis Guide: Iran explores these challenges and offers a range of expert opinions on the policy options for addressing them. The guide also uses multimedia elements to trace the country's history, examine its oil-driven economy, and survey its controversial nuclear program.

It is the seventh in a series of guides produced by MediaStorm and the Council on Foreign Relations that look at major international issues.

Link: Crisis Guide: Iran
Client: Council on Foreign Relations
Published: October 5, 2011

Emmy (Winner)
New Approaches To News & Documentary Programming: Current News Coverage
Overseas Press Club of America (Winner)
Web: Online General Excellence
The Challenge
Like the issues explored in previous Crisis Guides, the issues facing Iran and the region are both broad and complex, making the challenge of conveying them effectively particularly difficult.

In order to communicate the issues clearly, both the numerous local factions and the regime's power hierarchy needed to be illustrated, as well as Iran's broader relationship to the rest of the world community.

The challenge was to create a site that was immersive in experience, allowing the user to focus on the complex history of Iran and the issues now facing the country as a whole.

The guide contains:
  • a cinematic overview
  • an interactive timeline
  • a catalog illustrating Iran's internal factions and power structure
  • an interactive map exploring the country’s bilateral relations with its neighbors
  • a chapter detailing Iran's nuclear and ballistic military ambitions
  • a video gallery addressing possible future scenarios for the country
  • a resource guide

Each chapter contains a large amount of information and in some cases contains multiple layers of information. They had to be designed so that the information was presented in a clear but visually interesting way while being easy to navigate.

For the video overview, our challenge was to construct a compelling narrative that would successfully encompass a wide range of perspectives on an already complex issue. Further, the photography needed to support a script rich with policy insight and historical background.

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The Solution
Leveraging the templates built for Crisis Guide: Pakistan, the guide opens to the full width and height of the user’s browser window, centering the main content of the site in the screen and focusing the user’s attention to the main content. For further immersion, the user can full screen the site as well as full screen each video.

For the overview video, our team worked in conjunction with The Council on Foreign Relations to come up with a compelling script. We sought to create a structure that stayed faithful to their intentions, while simultaneously allowing us to create a cinematic experience, one that offered the viewer an opportunity to reflect on the information presented.

Technically, the guide is templated in Flash and editable by CFR staff through external XML files. Each chapter is built on an organized structure that allows for a variety of displays of information from images, graphs, interactive maps, and video, allowing the user to approach information in different ways.

A new interactive chapter was created to illustrate Iran's internal power hierarchy, in the form of a dynamic XML-driven structure chart, detailing the relationships between the multiple levels of authority.

Like the Crisis Guide: Pakistan that came before it, users who visit the site on an iPhone or iPad are able to see an alternate but limited version of the site that offers the overview video for viewing, fulfilling CFR's wishes of presenting alternative content to those devices that do not support Flash.

About the Client
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) dedicates itself to improving the understanding of the world, its challenges, and the foreign policy choices faced by the U.S. and other countries. The website is an extensive and trusted resource used by educators and students, government officials, business executives, journalists, and civic and religious leaders.

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