Tag: Moonbot studios »
Moonbot Studios, known for publishing some of the best digital books for iOS, has gone outside of the box before with their print and digibook hit The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, turning it into an Academy Award winning short film. Now they are merging print and digital publishing technologies in an innovative new way, with IMAG•N•O•TRON.
You'll need the hardcover book, which costs around $10 and is well worth owning if you have young readers at home. Just hold an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with a camera over the book and amazing things happen. Moonbot promises you’ll “Get swept up in a storm! Transport to another world! Play music! Fly!”
It also been called a “wonder of the ages,” so if you get a chance to check it out, we’d love to know if that’s a fair statement. We think it might be. Moonbot, it seems, can do no wrong in the App Store, and this book in particular is dear to many, both the young and the young at heart.
Numberleys is the new interactive universal storybook by the developers at Moonbot Studios, creators of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, one of my son’s all-time favorite applications.
The visual style of the Numberleys is quite stunning, greatly reminiscent of Fritz Lang's 1926 German Expressionism film, Metropolis, with a use of black and white imagery that will stay with my son for a long time. In cinematic terms that don’t quite correspond to an animated film, the look of low-key lighting is most striking, as is the masterful positioning of what would be the camera and the use of graphic, industrial cutaways in addition to the perfect use of a musical score in this thoughtful, atmospheric sci-fi storybook.
This story takes place in a bleak, colorless land of only numbers. An orderly world devoid of whimsy or joy, a group of numbers looking to better their society take it upon themselves to create letters out of already existing number shapes to bring beauty to their world.
It may have been a mistake to tell my son that this was a new app from the same developers of The Fantastic Flying Books, as I think my son was expecting highly interactive moments peppered throughout this story, which is not really the case here, as this is primarily a video to watch until one comes across the section of mini-game-like activities in which these new letters are crafted.
It did not take long, however, for my son to get used to simply watching this interesting origin of the alphabet, and I really enjoyed looking at his eyes are they grew wide in response to the use of the images of impressive architectural structures and industrial machines also found in Metropolis and touched upon here with wondrous effect. The mood within this tale may be dark, but not scary or to intense for my sensitive son.
I greatly appreciate the included narration, complete with German accent, which made me smile but surely went over the head of my 4 year old. I admire the choice to have a decidedly quirky tone to this narration as a more drab style would have made this story too heavy and completely change the tone of this tale to something else very different.
There are a few moments where one can tap red lights found in this app, mainly as part of a machine one gets to momentary interact with, exploring further the industrial elements of this application, but these moments are few and far between - only an issue if one has a preconceived notion of what to expect from this interactive app.
There are times, however, that after tapping an interactive area of this app, it is unclear when to turn the page as the interactive can be infinite - usually something that I like in an interaction, but here, which can cause confusion.
I have also noticed that when the video is intercut with narration and a title card of written text, although a lovely nod to silent films, can seem jarring, especially when it comes to the soundtrack being used.
As this story progresses, readers will reach the section of this app that will allow them to help these number characters to alter numbers into letters.
It is impressive how varied these interactions are, with a creative use of industrial machines, as well as the witty use of words that introduces the letters such as “Form would follow function, they would make the future fun.”
Letters are spun to stretch numbers into letter shapes, trampolines are used to jump onto numbers, squashing or separating them into letters, even deflecting numbers to hit fragile gears that fill form letters when broken.
Many of these interactions work well, but others are more at a level of a challenging mini-game in terms of difficulty, and it can be hard to understand what is being asked of the player or simply too difficult to accomplish - much to the frustration of my son, who wanted to interact with this this story, only to feel at some points overly challenged.
It can also be difficult to know when to turn the page here, as a few times the best way to complete the letter in question is to tap the paging turn arrow which triggers the conclusion of this interaction, as to not prolong some of these mini-games for what seems like indefinitely as players try to trouble-shoot what is going wrong.
Unfortunately, narration is not included as players must read the directions offered for these letter interactions to themselves, as the visual clues are often not enough to explain game play on their own, making this a difficult app to fully enjoy for non-readers. I would love to see narration of these directions also included as an option in the future.
After these letters are created, fully-colored elements are seen for the first time, evoking moments of Technicolor that become quite moving.
Because some of these letters can be too time-consuming to complete, my son thought this app in general was too long - something that may not surprise developers as they include an intermission that can one can sit through or bypass with a page turn.
I would love to see in the future a separate section being a simple video only, allowing one to watch these letters being born with a shortened overall time to complete each letter.
All in all, I can recommend this app based on its amazing sense of style. Metropolis is a favorite movie of mine, and this is a wonderful tribute to a perfectly realized film. I am happy to expose my son to this style of cinematic experience unlike anything else he has seen to date.
I do believe that some of the skill- or luck-based letter mini-games could be made simpler, as this story about the birth of letters will appeal to young children who will not be capable of some of these interactions - issues I hope that can be worked out in the future. Although of interest to children, even story-loving adults who are familiar with German Expressionism will find this application of interest.
I have been very impressed with the look and storytelling and other cinematic elements found within both of Moonbot Studios epic storybook applications. I look forward to seeing what else they may develop.