Astronaut Magazine, DMA Launch of the Year 2011
Every now and then, once a year if you’re lucky, you get to see something that changes the way you think about what you do. That’s how I felt the first time I saw the Sports Illustrated iPad demo back in 2009, the volcanically crowdsourced Stranded in 2010 and Astronaut, Launch of the Year at the 2011 Digital Magazine Awards.
Astronaut was among the magazines I was assigned to judge for the 2011 DMAs. At over 1GB it was a hell of a download and I have to admit, I had my doubts. As it turned out, it was a privilege to be reviewing what other judges on the panel called a “lovely experience” and a “groundbreaking magazine”.
Astronaut is made in Berlin and is all about giving independent filmmakers a forum to present documentaries and projects. It’s this mission to showcase video that makes it so special. The magazine is made for the iPad, quite deliberately made for iPad, and it uses all tricks of the developing tablet trade to seamlessly integrate classic magazine content with video.
Astronaut was first conceived as a print magazine with an accompanying DVD, but it works much better on the iPad where the video is right there alongside the words, helping to tell the stories. The publication presents a total of 80 minutes of video content in clips that run from four to 20 minutes long. But far from being a glorified show reel, each video is embedded in a long-form feature article that practises the best of old-school magazine crafts – writing, typography and photography.
June 10th’s launch issue features film of photographers and artists at work alongside the narrative of their ideas and aspiration. There’s a profile of Robert Rath, founder of the Erased Tapes independent record label accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful music video (below) from one of the label’s lartists. There’s a behind-the-scenes look at video game design and “Zoomer’s Treasures” a found-documentaryabout a junk lovers paradise stumbled upon by filmmaker Sam Huntley as he drove through rural Kansas.
Through 12 feature articles, the editors and designers have blended classic magazine content with video wonderfully well, making great use of layered text for both navigation and design. Unlike many made-for-iPad magazines, it’s difficult to get lost in Astronaut. The page progression remains fairly linear and a screen tap on any page will bring up a scrolling TOC that will take the reader to wherever they want to be in the publication.
Priced at €2.99/£2.49, the magazine is available from the App store, where you’ll see the best reviewer comment you could ever hope to see: “I enjoyed this first edition… when will issue 2 appear?”
Digital Magazine Awards Launch of the Year, 2011
Astronaut Video Magazine
Download Astronaut from iTunes