Nexus director Felix Masse is in the Google Spotlight as he joins a stable of internationally acclaimed filmmakers creating 360-degree immersive storytelling experiences for mobile platforms.
London-based independent production company and animation studio Nexus has been commissioned to produce the immersive animated story, Rain or Shine, for Google Spotlight Stories, a narrative format for 360-degree interactive stories. Nexus director Felix Massie is helming the project.
Spotlight Stories is a project within Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Spotlight Stories is a mobile storytelling format that combines mobile engineering with filmmaking in a new type of "on device" interactive experience. Users can explore a 3D story and follow the action with the freedom to look anywhere in the story world. Since launching in 2013, Google Spotlight Stories has worked with several acclaimed filmmakers. The first four stories, Windy Day (directed by Oscar-winning director Jan Pinkava), Buggy Night (directed by Mark Oftedal), duet (directed by animation legend Glen Keane) and HELP (directed by The Fast & the Furious’ Justin Lin) are now playing on the Google Spotlight Stories app available on Android and iOS.
Nexus has been chosen to work closely with the ATAP Spotlight Stories team in the making of Rain or Shine in an effort to utilize their recently launched new Story Development Kit (SDK). The kit enables both teams to explore the opportunities the software presents from a ‘storytelling’ perspective, and provide direct feedback on technical capabilities to the Google ATAP development team.
Rain or Shine follows Ella, a charismatic young girl who loves being outside in the sunshine, but whenever she puts her sunglasses on she’s thwarted - her very own raincloud appears above her head and sprinkles her with unwanted rain. The story warmly illustrates Ella’s frustration in wanting to wear her cool shades in the sunshine, and follows her amusing but futile attempts to dodge the rain.
“Spotlight Stories allows us to create a 360-degree storytelling experience that you can see through your phone,” Massie commented. “Using everyday technology, the user holds their own phone and can choose where to look and how to follow the story. Because the user has full control of the experience, it’s been an exciting challenge to create a rich immersive world. While the story and narrative will always play out in a linear way, like a normal short film, the way you experience the narrative in Spotlight Stories can change on every viewing. In essence, Spotlight Stories is another world viewable via your phone.”
The software, which is currently in pre-Alpha stages of development, will allow a user to look around and control a scene by changing their visual viewpoint to follow a story, just like in real-life and in real-time, but via a smartphone screen.
“It’s important that we put these projects in the hands of world class storytellers and creators, so that our tech, our software, and our conceptual thinking is pushed to the limits and refined in the right creative environment,” said Karen Dufilho, ATAP’s executive producer for Spotlight Stories.
“It’s a real privilege to be chosen to help develop a totally new form of storytelling for the world's most ubiquitous screen, the mobile phone,” said Nexus executive creative director Chris O’Reilly. “We tried to really focus on the unique creative opportunity and carefully reconsidered every part of the filmmaking process from script, through staging, art direction and lighting. This journey has been equal parts creative innovation, in making the most of this new storytelling format and technical innovation in working alongside the ATAP team as they have pushed the boundaries in mobile 360-degree film. We're very excited by the results.”