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Together with the Thomson Reuters Foundation the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) wanted to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami with a multimedia website that aimed to tell the stories of how the disaster touched the lives of so many people in so many ways.

Link: Surviving the Tsunami: Stories of Hope
Client: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Published: December 15, 2009

Emmy (Nominee)
New Approaches To News & Documentary Programming: Current News Coverage
EPpy Award (Winner)
Best Web Special Feature: News or Event
FRANCE 24 – RFI Award (Nominee)
Web Documentaries
NPPA's Best of Photojournalism (2nd)
News or Feature Multimedia Package
The Challenge
With less than two months from start to finish to execute the entire multimedia package, the pace needed to be rapid in order meet the five-year anniversary deadline in mid-December.

As a global initiative — and one that is particularly pertinent to the various southeast Asian communities that were most affected — the final product had to be one which was understood by people from many different backgrounds, speaking a number of different languages.

Since the IFRC is made up multiple sub chapters based in different regions, the website also had to allow for custom branding for each different organization (including a default subtitle language), as well as third-party media outlets that might be interested in licensing it.

Project assets were numerous, and were still being shot and edited even while the project was already in production. In addition, many members of the three parties involved were dispersed throughout different parts of the world, so a clearly-defined workflow and channels of communication were essential since real-time meetings were not always possible.

Screen Shot
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The Solution
A detailed project spec was created in Google Docs, which allowed everyone to manage the project in a collaborative manner, independent of time zone or schedule. After outlining the project’s scope and timeline, the work started on producing the package.

The multimedia piece was split up into four stories — each based around a main character’s experience — and multiple language subtitles were built into the video player to allow their stories to reach a broader audience.

An audio-driven interactive timeline was created to illustrate the sequence of events that followed the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, along with an accompanying bubble map to convey the final damage tolls the disaster took on the entire region.

A ‘Resources’ section completes the website with further context and external links, and the whole package is brought together in a Flash shell that can be localized or branded as needed simply by modifying a set of external XML files.

The Results
Surviving the Tsunami launched ahead of the five-year anniversary, and was very well-received by the IFRC, the Reuters Foundation, and a global audience. It went on to win an EPpy Award, place 2nd for NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism, and has been nominated for an Emmy.

About the Client
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, providing assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the world's leading provider of news and information, is committed to empowering people in need around the world with trusted information and free legal assistance.

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