Press Release

What is THE FORECASTER INTERACTIVE? – For press and promotional use

1. Synopsis

Crash of the Eurozone, exploding governmental debts, bursting housing bubbles, armed conflicts and one who predicted it all. The documentary “The Forecaster” tells the life story of Martin Armstrong whose predictions in the 1980s destabilised entire national economies. Armstrong later refused to take part in large-scale manipulation of the markets and became the central character of an unprecedented legal scandal.

2. The Forecaster Interactive – The online platform of the film.

Here, the user gets the opportunity to be immersed in the world of Martin Armstrong by exploring exclusive film material, interviews, original documents and news articles. Charlatan or genius? The user can view the available materials (arranged chronologically) to examine Armstrong’s revelations. Are his forecasts true? With help of the menu the user can jump directly to the important milestones of the cinematic narrative. Search filters can be used to find specific information and explanations for questions raised by the film.

Exclusive bonus material completes the scope of the online platform. This consists of scenes and animations not shown in the movie, numerous unpublished documents such as court transcripts of the trials of Martin Armstrong as well as animated info-films about complex economic topics (governmental debts, the number Pi, both available starting from the 3rd quarter of 2015). This allows our story to transcend the limits of film and be extended to the present day.

The real highlight in the usage of the platform is the filter function. It allows the user to sort the entirety of the material by media type and category. The filters show the real strength of contextual stream: one can, for example, display only the forecasts of Martin Armstrong, or combine these with financial news for comparison. Another option is to view the headlines of major economic crises with quotes from Armstrong. All information on the website can be freely combined, thus opening up different approaches to this subject and paving the way for individual discoveries.

The graphical form of The Forecaster Interactive is imagined as a newspaper. The content is laid out in the form of a newspaper front page and is used as visual guidance for the user’s research. The newspaper can be extended in the vertical direction (past and future on the timeline) and the flexible grid will fill up with information accordingly. Even in this digital age, complex information is often presented in a newspaper layout. It also offers a journey into the past: the major headlines of the stock market crashes of the 20th century are well imprinted in the collective memory of society.

The Forecaster Interactive newspaper layout is designed as a responsive platform meant for high resolution displays that can adapt to all types of devices. Available in both English and German, the platform is the first point of contact for second-screen accompaniment for the upcoming international DVD and TV releases of the documentary. The contextual stream will be updated frequently with the goal of keeping Martin Armstrong’s statements and forecasts comprehensible and verifiable, even after the film’s release.

The aim is continue the narration of the Armstrong story up to the predicted big crash in October 2015 and even beyond into the future. The time period from the international theatrical release and the German one and the international DVD release (both September 2015) to the TV release of The Forecaster on ARTE and ARD (Spring 2016) will be accompanied by the online platform to provide an enhanced second-screen experience.

3. Implementation
3.1 Technical concept & realisation

The interactive platform provides the user with various methods to access and manipulate the content. The timeline can be scrolled vertically – the further the user scrolls, the further back in time the content goes, enabling the user to get a perfect idea of the life story of Martin Armstrong, from his current forecasts all the way back to his oldest numismatic research about the decline of the Roman Empire.

Several approaches to filtering information are possible. The filters show the strength of the contextual news streams: For example, only the forecasts by Armstrong can be displayed, or the forecasts can be combined with the financial news (for comparison). Alternatively all the front page headlines of the major economic crises can be combined with quotes by Armstrong. All information on the site can be freely combined which opens up different approaches to the subject and enables the users to make personal discoveries.

A full-text search is also available. It is prominently placed and easily accessible via the header. A dropout box displays all possible search results. A click sends the user to the connected place in the time stream. In this way the user never really leaves the stream.

The Forecaster Interactive uses all available content types to continue the narration of Martin Armstrong’s story. Most notable are the countless articles that give the user the ability to match and compare Armstrong’s forecasts with real events. The curated articles are accompanied by bonus videos that illuminate individual events and aspects of the film in more detail. The bonus videos consist of unused scenes from the documentary as well as interviews with Martin Armstrong. These are also supplemented by statistics, citations, social media quotes, photos and original documents (such as court records).

The Forecaster Interactive runs on the open source CSM WordPress. The interactive platform is based on current web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and MP4 video). It is a responsive website that dynamically adapts to each device for intuitive operation. For each category of device the platform has its own customised layout, menu and typography. The mobile menu is so technically complex that the smartphone version of the platform is almost a stand-alone app.

Since readability is a crucial factor in the operation of the interactive platform, all elements from the navigation to the content are retina-ready. The Forecaster Interactive is available on high-resolution screens super sharp and free of pixelation. A special, self-written plugin optimises the aliasing (the sharpness of the edges of each letter) of the writing.

The user interface of the platform is designed down to the details to provide a unique user experience and to help with the interpretation of the complex content. For example, the header does not only display the actual month of the time you have scrolled to, it also indicates the development of the financial markets. The header shows the value of the New York DOW stock index, one of the world’s oldest and most important indexes, for every event in the timeline. At a glance the user can recognise whether the current time or episode of the story took place in a bull or a bear market.

The videos integrated on the platform have animated GIFs as previews. This is a contemporary way to focus more attention on the videos produced exclusively for the platform. All videos, as well as all other exclusive documents, run in a darkened lightbox that is superimposed on the stream for better viewing.

3.2 Graphical concept & realisation

In the conception phase it became clear that only a chronological timeline would be able to represent the complexity of all the material. Therefore, an aesthetic form was designed that would keep a low enough profile in order to have the content firmly in the foreground and, at the same time, help the user with visual orientation and navigation.

The newspaper seemed to be an effective metaphor. It is expandable vertically in both directions and it is organised on a flexible grid that can be retroactively augmented with information. The content will be gradually expanded over a period of several months. The newspaper layout is overhauled by the filter function and responsive arrangement that brings the look, feel and usability into the 21st century.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of The Forecaster Interactive is the colour scheme of the platform. The Rosé colour stands unmistakably for financial news. It was important to us to choose a stronger, more aggressive Rosé than, for example, the Financial Time’s corporate colour. The background colour of The Forecaster Interactive is therefore closer to the reds of revolutionary movements such as Occupy Wall Street. The choice of colour is intended to give an indication of the strength of Martin Armstrong’s opinions, forecasts and solutions.

All images and statistics on the page are dyed in Rosé. On a mouse-over or via the single-view mode the original colours can be seen. The videos produced for this project are represented by animated and coloured previews. A small detail in the video previews is the overlay in the form of a graphical grid. This prevents pixelisation if the relatively small original images should be viewed on a large screen. The typography combines traditional newspaper fonts such as Garamond and Georgia with more modern fonts such as Helvetica and Futura.

The whole presse kit including flyer, teaser video and booklet can be downloaded here.