Wallace and Gromit creators turn to AR for interactive storytelling
Image credit: Aardman Animations/PA
The creators of ‘Wallace and Gromit’ have utilised augmented reality to create a “new form of storytelling,” launching an app that lets users join the duo in their latest adventure.
‘Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up’ is available on iOS and Android devices and tells the story of the famous pair’s venture to clean up the city of Bristol using their contraptions.
The app combines mini-games, computer-generated animation, and interactive storytelling, and sees players become part of the team at the duo’s firm Spick & Spanners, helping them fix and clean up the city in a real-time adventure that takes place over several weeks.
Wallace and Gromit creator Aardman Animations worked with AR specialist Fictioneers on the app, which also features the voice of Miriam Margolyes, best known for playing Professor Sprout in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, as in-game virtual assistant Beryl.
Augmented reality, where virtual images are combined with a view of the real world to make it appear as if the two are interacting, has become increasingly common in recent years, particularly in mobile devices. For example, Apple added a special sensor to its iPhone 12 last year which improves augmented-reality experiences.
Finbar Hawkins, creative director at Aardman, said the studio was always interested in “telling stories differently” and had wanted to explore how that could be done with a smartphone. “Aardman is all about looking for innovative ways of storytelling,” he said.
He added: “We were very excited about bringing Wallace and Gromit into this set-up because they’re engineers – they make things and they’re always tinkering – so it really fitted in with the fact that we’ve got all these wonderful new toys to play with, especially in terms of something like the augmented reality aspect.”
Hawkins said the main “thrust” of the experience is about fun, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, with the app and augmented experiences designed to work well at home. “Ultimately it’s about enjoying yourself.”
He said the rapid advancements of new technology means Aardman will continue to experiment, but storytelling will remain at the centre of what the company does. There’s innovation, but there’s also the principles of storytelling, he explained.
He added: “That’s what it comes down to – The Big Fix Up has got all this wonderful shiny tech in it but it is a traditional story structure that happens over three acts, and that’s really important to us.”
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