Buggy Nights on the Moto X inspires animators

A phone complete with a door to a virtual world

I turned on a Moto X Android phone late last week to look the latest animation created in Spotlight Stories, a first-of-its-kind interactive storytelling experience created by the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) -- recently aquired by Google and operating under Android.

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Buggy Nights, a virtual-word animation from animator and director Mark Oftedal, illustrator Jon Klassen, composer Scot Stafford and producer Karen Dufilho

Buggy Nights, is a virtual-world animation from animator and director Mark Oftedal; Jon Klassen, Caldecott-winning illustrator of This is Not My Hat and films Coraline and Kung Fu Panda; composer Scot Stafford; and Oscar-winning producer Karen Dufilho.

Turning on phones to look at new stuff is something I do so often it has become a chore. But this time, I leapt out of my seat, spun around, laughed and called people in from other rooms to look. Everyone I showed it to did the same thing -- frolicked about, looking up and down through the phone, spinning, and exploring a world only they could see.

I haven’t been blown away by a technology in a long time. But this did it. Whimsy, laughter, ground-breaking technology, and the work of Pixar animators, all in a few minutes on a small screen.

Then I had the great pleasure to get on the phone with Oscar-winning director Jan Pinkava, formerly of Pixar about Buggy Nights. “This technology is a bridge to a new territory,” he told me of the combination of hardware and software that went into creating this entertainment that’s somewhere between a film, a game, and that door in the back of the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. “We are hacking back the jungle, exploring new territory for what can be done with the device in your pocket, which is a capable image processor and is also packed with sensors. We were able to create an amazing interactive cinematic experience where the audience is control of the camera.”

In fact, when legendary animator Glenn Keane, the animator responsible for giving life to some very famous animated characters -- including Ariel of The Little Mermaid, watched Buggy Nights it became a moment of inspiration for him. “He went home and started animating for the first time in over ten years,” says Pinkava. “He is hand drawing an episode for this device.” That project is expected to be released mid-year.

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