Crow: The Legend debuted last week as a new animated film for 2D viewing on YouTube and Facebook, as well as an interactive virtual reality experience. The creator, Baobab Studios, released the film for free as part of an effort to pioneer entertainment in the new medium.
Partly because the film tells a significant story about an Indian legend, Baobab, Maureen Fan (CEO) and Eric Darnell (Chief Creativist and Creator of Madagascar's Animated Film Series of Madagascar ) were the entertainers John Legend, Oprah Winfrey and Constance Wu occupy.
The interactive VR experience can take about 25 minutes. And it allows viewers to interact with the world – like their hand controllers to touch stars and make music. Darnell and Fan hope that VR users will stay longer in their created world.
To bring to life the story of Crow: The Legend Baobab went on philanthropy with Native Americans from America (NAP). Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO of NAP, speaks to the character of Luna.
On the Back of the Emmy Award-Winning Publications Asteroids! and Invasion! Crow: The Legend is the most ambitious project of Baobab Studios so far. It took 1
Here is an edited transcript of our interview.
VentureBeat: It looks like you've reached a big milestone here and completed the project.
Maureen Fan: That's a big deal. This is the team's most ambitious project so far. We want to make sure that the start is as smooth as possible. We are very excited.
VentureBeat: How long have you been working on it? How do you think that has turned out?
Fan: We had a team of about 15 people and we worked on it for about a year. Of course I'm biased, but I think it's wonderful. We had to make sure we lived up to the original Native American story. We have always known that it is based on a Native American legend, but we learned by creating this piece – we brought along two cultural advisors. Sarah Eagle Heart is the CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, our executive producer. Randy Edmonds is an 84-year-old tribal elder from Kiowa-Caddo. He founded the National Indian Urban Council and was involved in the relocation of Oklahoma.
When we created this, they taught us that many Native Americans were forced into reeducation camps and said that they can not tell stories like these. They were considered pagan. Many of her stories have been deleted from the story, so it was a big deal for her to share this story. Our piece is one of the few, if not the first, animated piece that depicts an indigenous worldview in which the story is authentically narrated, not just us. We wanted to make sure it was done well. It was an honor they trusted us, but we had to make sure that it was as authentic and authentic as possible to Native American culture.
I think we did a good job. It's our most ambitious project so far because we've created both a 2D and a VR version. The VR version comes after about 25 minutes. It's obviously pretty long. It has many different characters and environments, which is logistically ambitious for everyone in the animation. We wanted to find out what the role of the viewer is. Eric can tell you more about the interactivity and the things we experimented with.
Eric Darnell: Our First Piece, Invasion! we did before hand controls were available. All we could do to achieve interactivity was to give the viewer that white rabbit who somehow hung under her head and slightly changed his form as the viewer moved. We've actually been in eye contact between the onlooker and the bunny character who became your friend in the story – and eye contact between the onlooker and the aliens.
With Asteroids! we had hand controls. We could lean into interactivity and enable the viewer to interact with things in the environment. This was our first major training in the things you can do with this type of agency. It gets complicated very fast. If you look at the hand controls they have many triggers and buttons and buttons. There is a lot of potential in terms of their use.
When we came to Crow, we decided to create something where the viewer would not have to build up any knowledge about the hand control devices. Instead, they only had to wave their arms like a magician or the ghost they play in history. With just one gesture – a gesture – you can let the grasses grow as a ghost and the flowers bloom. The sun comes out. The snow is falling. If you follow the hero on his journey to give heat to the animals, you will fly through space.
You can move your arms like a conductor and play the music of the universe. Depending on what you do, the music manifests itself differently. It is up to the viewer to participate in this additive, interactive process with their arms to direct this music. It sounds different, depending on the individual viewer and how he chooses to interact. It has become a much more natural, organic way of enabling our viewers to interact with the environment. It turned out to be really successful.
VentureBeat: Back to some basics, how do you make money from this one?
Fan: We purposely offer it because we want to make sure that as many people as possible experience the legend of the Native Americans. That was important for the cast. We are not very rich, as you know. We are a startup To keep this amazing cast, we are constantly stuck. For them, one of the main reasons why they wanted to be part of this piece was the issues of diversity and sacrifice – and because it's a story of an under-represented community. It was important to us and them to ensure that as many people as possible can experience it. If you make it free, that is possible.
VentureBeat: Has the split between [in] and VR in VR given the opportunity to make money when you look at it on TV, something like that?  Fan: There are always changes for us to make money, but this is where we deliberately decided not to. You can imagine that for Baobab we want our characters, universes and stories to live beyond a certain medium. We see ourselves as an immersive animation studio. Everything we consider immersive is what we do. That's why we experimented with location-based entertainment. We premiered Jack a version of Jack and the Beanstalk at the TriBeCa Film Festival with a new director, Mathias Chelebourg. We're doing AR, VR, LBE, and you can imagine other things too.
VentureBeat: Asteroids! Is this what you might want to expand into a feature film?
Fan: Asteroids! and Invasion! are part of the same universe. They are the same characters, Mac and Cheese. This is the franchise and the characters we canceled a movie deal with.
VentureBeat: Is there a similar deal with this one?
Fan: I can not talk about anything now. At Baobab, however, we always try to extend our stories to many different media.
VentureBeat: Is that why people trust you? You can do a short film, but you might also make it a lot more valuable by incorporating it into an animated feature.
Fan: I'm not sure when you say "people" as "people" trust us. I can say that the reason why the cast took place and decided to work with us on the one hand because of the topics that attracted them. But when one thinks of Eric, Eric has co-designed all four Madagascar films as well as Antz . He has worked with people like Sharon Stone, Woody Allen, Ben Stiller and Alec Baldwin. Talent in the hands of an experienced director is really helpful.
Of course, Eric creates stories that were both critical and commercially very successful. He has developed a franchise, not just one-time hits. These are things that give our company legs. We still believe that content is king. What will make the medium a mass market is ultimately content that is generally appealing. That will bring audiences into these headsets. That was what invasion! which is why it was a top VR experience in the download charts, and we hope that Crow will do so.
VentureBeat: Is there any funding? from Oculus
Fan: Oculus is indeed our starter partner. We can not go into everything that goes with it, but like all Baobab projects, you can expect it to be available on all headsets, but Oculus is our starter partner.