Animated Video Production

Animation: The Original Augmented Reality

Shawn 01.06.2014

Animation, via augmented reality software, is redefining how we see the world.

Augmented reality technology – namely Google Glass and smartphones like Motorola’s new “Moto X” – are the next step in mobile technology. They push the boundaries of how we use portable devices to interact with…pretty much everything. These devices employ integrated software and 3D processors to render digital images on top of the real world – via wearable technology (like Glass). Driving directions are updated in real-time in the corner of your eye, definitions to words appear as you read, and facial recognition software helps you avoid embarrassing introductions at your next meeting.

If it sounds too futuristic to be true, don’t worry, you’re in the majority. Most people can’t grasp the implications of augmented reality until they see it for themselves.

Enter animation.

To get the word out about the new features of their reality augmenting phone – the Moto X – Motorola turned to Jan Pinkava, Oscar-winning director, Ratatouille mastermind, and creator of Pixar. His film/game/experience “Windy Day,” is the first release in a series of animations on Motorola’s featured mobile media player “Spotlight.”

The story follows a mouse chasing down a red cowboy hat through a series of gusts that blow it all over a forest. Groundbreaking, right? It is, and not just because of the animation, which is beautifully rendered. No, the giant leap forward with Windy Day is how it’s viewed.

In order to follow the hat the viewer has to tilt the screen and swing the phone from side to side, affecting where the camera “points,” and thus what part of the story they see. Spoiler alert: It’s pretty windy.

What the fun, silly animation highlights are the sensitive interactive features, powerful Adreno 320 quad-core processor, and rich digital space that the phone creates in this simple app. The takeaway from “Windy Day” is not just a quirky video, but a profound sense for how much more this device is capable of. When asked about seeing the world through a small screen, Jan Pinkava said, “It should be both beautiful and elegantly simple.” Mission accomplished.

Google Glass, the often talked about game-changer to augmented reality, takes the interplay of animation and reality a step further using stop-motion animation. A small group of filmmakers and animators known as Tu, Namroc, Freddy, and Isam Prado, created an immersive short film, called “Catch,” highlighting this ability by using over 1,000 images captured on Google Glass. The results are stunning.

Augmented reality devices, like Glass, are new vehicles opening up countless possibilities for animation to become an integral part of how we view our world. Thanks to animation like “Windy Day” it seems that the sky really is the limit.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

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