It all started with my annual search for fun, non-chocolate advent calendars for my children, however scarce interesting cardboard calendars were some years, and however old my children were getting. In 2008 I’d missed any that may have been around, so I decided to try a digital solution just for the family. The next year I opened it up to friends of all ages and haven’t stopped since.
The challenge that I set myself was that the contents should be collections of real objects, so in 2009 I presented Christmas preparations in the dolls’ house. I set up miniature scenes to photograph, and used Dreamweaver, moving an image map through the numbers at midnight through December to link to the file for the day, where the animated gif for the window then opened.
2010 saw a big leap in the size of our collection of reindeer Christmas tree decorations, which has carried on growing every year since then. Reindeers have taken over our Christmas trees. I was relieved to find the obvious star reindeer for the top of the tree two weeks into December that year.
We’d been on a training course to use Adobe Flash software and I really wanted the reindeer noses to flash red on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t stop the window opening over and over again once it was clicked though, so there are two more files for this one that work automatically, a swf file for pcs and an mp4 export for a mobile.
The next year I got the windows under control in Flash and had a lot of fun with various interactive techniques for the 2011 Christmas cracker collection. I transferred music and sound effects from a keyboard via an iPhone. It’s a great shame that Flash will not show on mobiles and tablets. I’ve seen such a lot of creative work on wonderful websites that’s now become out of date far too quickly because of this.
I worked out a production method to transfer artwork from the Photoshop master file to make an html version as well as the Flash one, as mobile and iPad use statistics couldn’t be ignored. The calendar looks very busy, but it was great fun to do and got the most page views yet, gathering over 90 Facebook followers.
In 2012 I tried an experiment and sat a big Happy Christmas message underneath the collection of decorations on a Christmas cake. It looked better at the beginning of the month, getting a bit cluttered by the end, but Christmas cakes always do look better before they’re cut…
Then I discovered Drupal… The story continues on the Counting down to Christmas in Drupal page.