August 17, 2021
web design, inspiration

Celebrity Crushes & Parallaxes

By Kat Traczyk

I need to spill a little secret. I love Jimmy Chin. If you haven’t seen Meru, do yourself a favor and devote 1.5 hours to a marvel about the human mind, body, and spirit. Then imagine the hard work it takes to become not only a talented climber but an equally talented photographer — all while dangling on ropes thousands of feet in the air. You’ll be that much more in awe of any athletic achievement, I promise.

If you’re not familiar with the great Jimmy Chin, he’s a staple in the climbing and mountaineering community, graciously providing us normal-folk a lens into what actual life on rock really looks like. After capturing his experiences in Meru, he went on to co-direct a film you may have heard of, called Free Solo, an award winning film about Alex Hannold’s attempt at free soloing El Cap.

Chin’s visionary genius recently joined forces with the New York Times to create a web experience documenting a Grand Traverse expedition in the Tetons in "Up, Up and Away From it All." When I first saw the visually stunning storytelling on the webpage, I was awestruck. The visual components and narrative work together as a crescendo over the course of their multi-day excursion. The site carries us along for the ride at 12,000 ft. with the climbing heroes. Worthy of a huge shout out is Spokane native Manoah Ainuu, who's a big part of the expedition and deserves a whole separate piece on his accomplishments (if you’re curious, read here). What became most captivating to me was the use of parallax scrolling in tandem with storyline and plot progression, the clever use of movement — varying scroll speeds and horizontal text scrolling — tickled my senses even more.

Now, all of you web and design nerds may have already heard of the concept of parallax scrolling, and I’m embarrassed to share that the first I’d heard the term was when chatting with Benji about the New York Times article. The concept isn’t novel. It has its roots in classic Disney movies like Snow White or Fantasia, with more modern iterations introduced in web design by (disputably) the Life of Pi movie page. Effectively, parallax is a dynamic website design, which plays between background and foreground speeds to create a 3D effect as you scroll. The right mix of subtlety and depth for maximum impact.

Many of us keep our eyes forward, never looking back on the clunky iPhone 11 design of yesteryear. And let’s be honest, you’re much more likely to trip if you’re not looking forward. But there’s something to be said for taking something old, 1st-generation Disney old, and refining it for a modern take. A nod to the ghosts of design past, but with a twist.

photos of my own adventure to Grand Tetons National Park, July 2020.