Animating a P&O Wave (or How to use Peanut Oil in a Website).

Last week we launched the new P&O Website [cue the trumpets because it took a year!] Whilst e-commerce websites aren’t generally considered somewhere you can ‘get creative’ we decided this should be an interesting challenge …which it was. When we did our early research we found some very interesting insight about that “twilight zone” where air meets water (see images below). We realised there was something here to play with and decided that if we could execute it well enough it could be an important design feature on the site… but execute it poorly and it would just look tacky. (Let us know what you think).

Above Video: The making of the wave:

Creating a ‘wave’ was not as simple as we first thought. Animated tests trying to simulate the wave in 3D or in Flash just didn’t cut it. We wanted something which felt as realistic as possible. We next moved to the real world but equally found that water on its own did not work well at all when we filmed it. To cut a very long story short we finally made a glass tank (very lo-tech – a vase with half a CD case fixed using a glue gun) and filled it with 50% water (tinted blue with food dye) and 50% clear peanut oil. The two substances allowed us to create and film the illusion of water moving very realistically but a much slower down rate. Some After Effects magic with the raw film and we now have a looped, low bandwidth wave for the P&O site.

Final Website above:


Above: During design research we found a ton of wonderful images which were part of the inspiration for the final wave.


Above: Other features in the site include “Full Screen Experiences” that work without leaving the current page you are on. It’s slightly buried but an unusual feature – especially for an ecom website.

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18 Responses to Animating a P&O Wave (or How to use Peanut Oil in a Website).

  1. Deano says:

    Now that’s what I call thinking outside the box!

    Being a flash developer myself, I can see how difficult it would have been to create that wave if you tried using vectors instead. It just wouldn’t have had the same effect.

    This site has so many hidden surprises. Seriously, I feel like joining a cruise today.

    Congrats on a job well done.

  2. Jamie says:

    Love the wave and the site! Well done guys.

  3. Adrian says:

    My actual first thought when I saw this site a week ago was that you created this effect in 3d. There are script out there that does waves and water pretty well.


  4. Boz says:

    Very nice effect and a good alternative to the hackneyed 3-D effects that pass for waves and swells.

    The motion on the final website is a bit too fast, however. You need to consider that the effect is aimed at being that of a light swell in a reef system. This would typically have a longer period between the crests – probably around 60-70% longer.

  5. Russell says:

    Really lovely — and was going to say exactly what Boz said. Slowing it down a bit would add verisimilitude.

  6. Sally OD says:

    Great job. Enjoyed watching the making of. Cheers! Sal

  7. Salut there Captain hows hanging these days

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  9. John says:

    Nice looking site and useful technique, however Boz is right about the slight disconnect between visuals and wave speed. Also not sure about the /Pages/ thing – bad for SEO so bad for the client, and could easily be fixed by modifying routing requests.

  10. Chia Borling says:

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