Unless you happen to have been one of the people who authorized payment of around $800,000 for the design, or were on the receiving end of it, then the chances are you will agree with the momentum of public opinion that the London 2012 Olympics branding sucks. In fact, it more than just plain simple sucks, it sucks elephants through a straw is how bad it is. But as well as being offensive to the eye, this campaign has shown how technology can attack both your product credibility and the health of those viewing it.
The credibility thing is commonplace. The London 2012 Olympic Committee is hardly the first to waste good money in a desperate attempt to appear trendy, or as a spokesman claimed “dynamic, modern and flexible” and able to work with “new technology and across traditional and new media networks.” Already the more astute readers will be thinking Emperor’s New Clothes, and I suspect that you are right in reaching that conclusion.
But that is just the half of it. What really concerns me, considering the amount of money spent developing this branding and the campaign launch to publicize the London Olympics, is that fundamental basics have been overlooked. Basics that are there for good reason, to protect the public from over-enthusiastic techno-nerds.
You see, a series of TV adverts were produced to introduce us all to the new logo and the Olympics branding, and these were broadcast in the UK to coincide with the logo launch.
Unfortunately, the animation of the logo during one part of the video, where a diver hits the water and the multi-colored splashes form the geometric shapes of the logo design, provoked the largest ever number of complaints about TV induced epileptic seizures recorded in the history of UK television.
Although the offending piece of video has been edited and the epilepsy effect no longer exists, the whole debacle could have easily been avoided in the first place. Scrap that, should have easily been avoided in the first place. There have long been guidelines in place around the world, from OfCOM and ITU in the UK for example, that govern how material likely to cause seizures is handled. Regulation compliance testing is available to all; using the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer and this would have quickly shown that the clip was likely to do bad things to sufferers in the audience. Cambridge Research Systems, the makers of that pattern analyzer, ran the unedited footage through the system and found it contravened OfCOM broadcasting guidelines during at least 126 frames.
Even the Mayor of London, more noted for his love of newts than new technology, was quoted on the BBC news as saying that “I assume they've checked this to make sure it doesn't trigger epilepsy in someone? You assume when you pay for an advert to be done, they'll do it within the existing legal and health requirements."
Well quite. Still, it’s a lesson learned and one that should be absorbed by anyone creating animated content for the web as well. Provoking seizures amongst your audience is not the best way to get your message across…