Revealing an intimate look at one of Australia’s most fascinating true crime stories, Missing is the story of abducted Adelaide schoolgirl Wendy Jane Pfeiffer and the Aboriginal trackers who brought her home.
Told through the dual perspectives of Wendy, the missing schoolgirl, and Jimmy, the Pitjantatjara tracker who found her, this interactive documentary highlights the unique nature of a relationship forged out of tragedy.
Combining massive time-lapse photography with 3D immersive, abstract environments and first-person perspectives, Missing is a kaleidoscope of narrative approaches and visual treatments. The landscapes are meticulously art-directed and designed, letting audiences move through the story aside tracker Jimmy, reinterpreting the broken scenes that point toward Wendy’s next location.
This critically acclaimed project showcases the potential that arises when time-honoured storytelling methods combine with cutting-edge forms of expression and technology.
A multidisciplinary approach
Wanting to produce a film-like treatment on a micro-budget, we turned to ‘animated’ and interactive photography. Inspired by multiple exposure and slit-scan photography techniques, we conceived of the Australian bush as a giant theatre stage, both sublime and brutal, for the character of Wendy to move through in a series of time-lapse frames.
Multiple reconnaissance and location scouting visits to the Adelaide Hills gave us the materials to create proof of concept code-spikes, which ultimately led to the commission of celebrated photo-media artist Tamara Dean to the project, her ethereal treatment of the Australian bush giving Missing its beauty and distinct tone. Asking the audience to lean into Jimmy’s perspective of the story, the search for Wendy is conceived as a series of game-like moments in which we ask the user to look deeply into the environment. Creative director and artist Jono Yuen took our initial concepts for this interactive moment, rendering an abstract space of fragmented details the user pulls together to trace Wendy’s next steps. These interactions become a series of wow moments for our creative developers to animate and build, and an additional canvas for the illustrations of Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist Thea Perkins to depict Jimmy’s detailed eye-level insights.
A multimedia masterclass
Rivalling SBS’s TV audience viewership with over 250,000 views in its first month, Missing proves that an unlikely concept and modest budget can reach new audiences. Officially selected for the International Documentary Festival, a Webby Honoree and a finalist for Site of the Year on the CSS Design Awards, Missing is a masterclass in multimedia storytelling and a testament to the team that built it.
- The Webby Awards
- Finalist – Best Use of Video or Moving Image
- Site of the Day
- Site of the Day
- Official Selection
- Walkley Awards
- Finalist – Innovation
- CSS Design Awards
- Finalist – Website of the Year
- Creative Direction, Design, Motion Graphics
- Jono Yuen
- Art Direction and Design
- Tamara Dean
- Sam Petty
- Sound Design
- Thea Perkins