Webby Awards nominates UTPA group for Web work
Posted: 04/19/2010
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The University of Texas-Pan American's Reel to Red Productions has done it again. Less than a year after nabbing its second Lone Star EMMY for their work on the study abroad documentary "The Heart of Experience," they have scored a nomination for The WEBBY Awards for their work on

The New York Times has dubbed the WEBBYs "the online equivalent of an OSCAR." The awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), a 650-person judging academy whose members include Internet co-inventor Vinton Cerf, musicians Beck and David Bowie, "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, Martha Stewart and American film producer Harvey Weinstein.

The 14th Annual Webby Awards received nearly 10,000 entries from all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide. Reel to Red is one of five nominees in the student category. Visit

Voting is based on content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity and overall user experience.

Plans for a Web site began in April 2009 when the group's creative director, Chelse Benham, wanted a place on the Internet to showcase the program's best work. After brainstorming, the group settled on building an interactive, virtual studio.

"I wanted it to have a look and feel of a diorama," Benham said. "The site has a cutout feeling, as if floating in space."

The Reel To Red Production Team has been nominated for a WEBBY Award for their work on Pictured from left to right are Israel Rojas, Nicole Velasco, Hilda Del Rio, Chelse Benham, Alexis Carranza, Oscar Garza, James Hernandez. Not shown are Victor Ituarte and Alina Ortega.

Each team member was assigned a different portion of the studio to build. Once the pages were built, Alexis Carranza, one of the team's graphic designers, was charged with the task of stitching all the pages together.

"Everyone on the team designed a page in Photoshop. They gave me their files and I built the site in Dreamweaver," Carranza said. "I had a steep learning curve to go by. I had taken a Web design class and I remember most of it was in Dreamweaver, but my biggest issue was understanding and writing HTML code."

The Web site was finally completed and uploaded by October 2009, six months after initial talks.

Despite the amount of effort put into its aesthetics, Benham said she feels the Web site wasn't being recognized solely for its interactive appeal, but for its content.

"This is a culmination of the program's six years of work, some of which has earned us four Lone Star EMMY nominations and two EMMY wins, two Auroras, and a Telly," she said. She suggests using Safari when viewing the site for the best result.

Visit to vote on the student ballot. Registration to the Webby site is required. Voting ends April 29.