Today lastatak.com celebrates it's 3rd birthday, having started in July 2002 during production of The Silent Voice. The site, which is currently in it's third incarnation, was developed by Andrew Davidson, one of the co-founder of Last ATAK Pictures, to showcase LiMBO, maintain daily updates on The Silent Voice and, looking to the future, the film that would become Autumn Heart.
To celebrate, this week we will be presenting a series of interviews with cast and crew of the films created by Last ATAK Pictures since it's inception in February 2002. To start, however, we give you a history of the site to date, why and how it was created and what is on the horizon for the future...
Version 1-1.3 July 2002 - June 2004
After completing work on LiMBO, and shortly before starting photography on The Silent Voice Andrew Davidson, having only previously dabbled briefly in web design, set about creating lastatak.com. His intention was to develop a space where it would be possible to get up to date information, pictures, interviews and video for all Last ATAK Pictures productions. Rather that simply being a showcase for the films, he wanted to offer a look behind the scenes at how the films were made, and have input and comment from the people making the films.
Taking the Last ATAK Pictures logo created by Michael Buxton as the design cue for the look of the site, Davidson created a series of sections. News, the main page; Films, for access each film's subsection; Production Diary, a behind-the-scenes account of making the films (and frankly everything in between too) and the Archive, About, Links and Contact details were all up.
Over the next two years the site continued to be refined, new graphics were added to the main page, a third colour was introduced to the pallet and the introduction of the 'Recent News' was first seen. In February 2003 Andrew Davidson and Andrew Elkin, who were working for Odeon Cinemas, started the Student Screen event, showcasing classic or independent films at discount student prices. They soon hit upon the idea that lastatak.com could be an important resource for news and updates for the event. Having no designated area into which to place Student Screen, a new section was created called 'Projects' which would also come to house the Last ATAK Pictures documentary for Nameless Productions and Friends of Ken and the Nokia Shorts film Evil Jonathan Is Dead.
Version 2 June 2004 - May 2005
Shortly after the completion of Quondam in March 2004 and prior to the announcement on production of The Musicals, lastatak.com went through it's first change. Out when the black, white and blue and in came a peach and brown tone look. Whilst on the surface the site looked as if it had changed dramatically, much of the groundwork of the site was still very similar to the original layout. The advert bar being an example of new use of old space. Each film's sub-section menu layout was also identical, with links all created as text. The major difference with the design was that the main buttons were now all laid out at the top of the page, removing the need for frames seen in version 1.
With the re launched site came two new sections, first online was the Last ATAK Pictures message board, created to offer a link between the audience and the film-makers. While this feature has seen a decline in the use of the Diary, it has seen an increase in the presence of other members of the production team.
Following in December 2003 came the opening of lastatak.com|SHOP, an online retail outlet that offers Last ATAK Pictures merchandise and importantly access to purchasing the films in VHS or DVD formats.
Other changes that occurred during version 2: the introduction of the Features section, created to house interviews, articles or reviews that wouldn't necessarily fit in other sections. This section has seen and exploration into the making of the opening of The Musicals, and the story of making Last ATAK Pictures DVDs.
Lastly, in an effort to unify the many areas of the site, and with the help of Alun Jones from Chronowerks Designs who had built the shop and the message board, the main page gained a Message Board highlight box, showing the latest posts on the boards.
One of the frequent comments on the site was that the Last ATAK Pictures branding was no longer very distinctive, this together with a desire to further unify the site and Andrew Davidson's desire to move the structure further from the complicated roots of version 1, and only 11 months after the launch of version 2, lastatak.com was again re launched.
Version 3.1 May 2005 - present
Version 3 saw the most dramatic change in the design of lastatak.com, back came the bold use of the company logo in a large banner at the top of the site. Gone were the hard edged angles of previous designs and in came smooth rounded buttons. The site was at once more graphically intensive than it had ever been, with bold use of colours (the peach of version 2 softened by the use of the lighter beige of the Message Board) and design. Below the section buttons came a large Latest News graphic and to it's right a Site Hotkeys bar to instant access to the latest or most important additions to the site.
If anything, the key factor for version 3 was to make the site easier to navigate and to bring all the elements of the site together. The Message Board highlight from version 2 was now on every page and coupled with a lastatak.com|SHOP highlight box so that no matter where you were you could have access to any feature you like instantly.
Recently the text on buttons and menus has been punched up to make it more distinctive, taking lastatak.com to version 3.1, but what of the future.
There are no plans for version 4 for a while, designers Andrew Davidson and Alun Jones have worked hard to create a site that is easy to navigate and simple to use. Currently they are working on redesigning the shop to bring it more inline with the version 3 design aesthetic, and hope to have it up and running soon, with new items on offer.
Interviews start tomorrow...