One of my favorite moments from last night’s Oscars, naturally, was when William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg won for Best Animated Short and declared themselves mere “swamp rats from Louisiana.” The pair teamed up to make “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” at Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios. The 15-minute film “tells the story of a man whose French Quarter-dwelling life is literally blown away at the movie’s outset. As he deals with his grief, he finds a refuge in a fantastical library in which the books have literally come to life.”
But what’s really interesting about the film and its win is that it was originally conceived as an interactive book-app that would allow readers to experience “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” however they wish to.
Reports Fast Company:
Designing interactive interfaces for kids is no mean feat, and the Moonbot team really made some great choices with Morris Lessmore. When you open up the app, it doesn’t waste your time with teaching-screens about how to interact with it–it just smoothly enters the story. (A key feature, I imagine, when you want to get Junior to go the youknowwhat to sleep ASAP.) Gently animated cues surface in the lush visuals at just the right time, encouraging you to explore the app rather than slavishly plod through it: When a house gets picked up in a tornado, you can use your fingers to swipe and spin it around–but you don’t have to.
In fact, the interface design is so subtle it wasn’t until I was about six pages in that I realized that every page of the app has some delightful feature embedded into it that you have to find for yourself. This is the key to a successful children’s book–inviting them to play and explore and be curious, not just jab buttons to activate cheesy visual effects. And mercifully, every gewgaw in the book has a button so you can toggle it on or off: For example, you can kill the voiceover so you can read to your kid in your own voice the way God intended, or silence the music and sound effects if you want to. But they’re all just a tap away if you change your mind–and the whole experience is so well-produced, you very well just might.
Watch a trailer for the app below…
Well done, fellow Louisiana swamp rats!