Spring is coming and as such it is time for us to get out into the wild and explore our beautiful countryside. Now that is fine if it is just you and some friends or family. However, if you have small children, then you may find it somewhat trickier to get them to embrace the idea of going out into the wilderness. There’s just not much motivation for them to go outside – it’s still a bit nippy and well, that annoying water stuff still keeps falling out of the sky.
Now you local Forestry Commission is working very hard to get your young family into the woods to explore and feel nature. That being said it can be difficult for them to be drawn away from the gadgets that we as parents have now become so dependent on. Even with the best intentions, we do also use these gadgets to help us with “childcare” duties when we need to be getting on with something else. This is not a slant on us as parents, it’s just that sometimes it is the easiest option. I know for me the easiest way to get some peace in the car is to throw my tablet up onto the headrest of the passenger seat and put on “Paw Patrol” :)
So what can we do to help us with this conundrum? Well, the clever people over at Nexus Studios have teamed up with Magic Light Pictures and the Forestry Commission to help us. One of the stalwarts of my son’s library has been a big brown creature with purple thorns on his back and a wart on his nose.
I am of course talking about … The Gruffalo.
My son loves going for walks in the woods and following all the signs of possible Gruffalo tracks. Now, whilst that will keep him entertained for a while, he does tend to lose interest quite quickly. As he’s my son he is also very adept when it comes to using technology (I have no idea how that happened by the way). So the possibility of him being able to take pictures of possible Gruffalo sightings does keep him intrigued.
This is where Nexus Studios come in. What they have done is developed trails and routes throughout the woods with Augmented Reality for extra fun. When a phone or tablet with the appropriate app is pointed in the right place, AR magic begins. Your phone will superimpose a character from the Gruffalo TV episodes onto a live picture. This can then be snapped as a picture for later. The app will then allow you to continue on your walk until you find the next marker.
This has been put into place all over England and it is spread over 26 different forests.
There are 5 different AR markers to find, with each representing a different part of the story. The App is available on iOS, Amazon and Android devices for free. Once you have that awesome Gruffalo inspired shot it can be shared via the app with other #GruffaloSpotters.
If you prefer something a little more tangible for your little one then you are also able to purchase a Gruffalo Spotters Kit which will include all the things that your young explorer could need for some critter hunting.
The app is available now and the trails will be open up until the end of September. If you want to find out where your nearest trial is then please head to the Forestry Commission website.
I will be heading out to catch me a Gruffalo very soon once I have finished my mammoth move from Scotland to England.
Happy Gruffalo hunting!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Gruffalo brought to life in the forest with new augmented reality app
In the first development of its kind, Magic Light Pictures and Forestry Commission England bring The Gruffalo characters to life in the forest through a new augmented reality app.
The Gruffalo Spotter has been designed for exclusive use at twenty six forests across the country where visitors can join the adventure through the deep dark wood.
Families will follow clues on an interactive trail and track signs of their favourite characters based on The Gruffalo, best-selling picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
These clues lead to 5 different Augmented Reality markers – footprint signposts, specific to each one of the characters. For example little footprints for Mouse, a slithery trail for Snake, fox tracks for Fox, bird footprints for Owl and the unmistakable great big Gruffalo footprint.
When the visitor aims their device at the footprint marker, a short animation of that character is triggered, blending in with its natural surroundings.
The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with fantastic activities along the way. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos alongside them.
Their photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery, from where it can be shared via social media with the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters.
Taking family forest walks to new heights, the app mixes technology with the real world, encouraging children to get exploring, firing their imaginations and enabling them to have an all-new forest experience.
The Gruffalo Spotter’s app has been has been created by Nexus Studios’ innovative Interactive Arts division and is available for free with no in-app purchases from the App Store Google Play and Amazon. Featuring bold and intuitive design, the app is perfectly suited for easy use by the whole family.
A Gruffalo Spotters kit will be available to buy on site and includes animal facts and tips for tracking wildlife, an evidence collection bag, a magnifying glass and a pencil to make a note of your forest finds!
Bridgette Hall, Recreation Manager for Forestry Commission England commented:
“This is such an exciting development and will deliver a completely different forest experience for our visitors. The Gruffalo is a world renowned story and to be able to bring the characters to life in their natural setting is fantastic. It’s great we’ve had the opportunity to join the two worlds of technology and nature together in a sensitive way!”
Barney Goodland, Head of Digital at Magic Light Pictures said:
“Our partnership with Forestry Commission England has been an overwhelming success from the start so in this, our fourth year of activity, we wanted to do something really special. We’re always looking to further children’s enjoyment of The Gruffalo brand and this was an innovative way to incorporate new technology with a real world experience. Working with the Forestry Commission and Nexus Studios has been a real joy and it’s exciting to now be sharing The Gruffalo Spotter with families. Most importantly for us the app is completely free, which means that it’s there for everyone to enjoy.”
Claire Cook, Creative Producer at Nexus said:
“The team at Nexus are massive fans of The Gruffalo and were really excited to be able to bring the iconic characters to life in the forest through the magic of Augmented Reality. Working with Magic Light and the Forestry Commission has been a fantastic collaboration on many levels, from new technical innovation in AR and real time 3d characters, to creating an experience that works outside in all weathers and for all ages. The creative challenges have always been enjoyable and we can’t wait to see children (and their grown-ups!) playing it.”
Sam Southward, Director at Nexus Studios said;
“One of the exciting things about The Gruffalo Spotter is the way in which we have scaled up the AR technology to create close to life-sized characters in a real world location. Up until this point, the majority of AR has been a smaller and more controlled experience, but for this project we really wanted to see how much we could push it.
On a technical level, we have included a few clever techniques to better integrate the characters into their outdoor surroundings, such as designing the animation to work from the ground up, giving the characters a stage, which will hopefully make the experience even more magical and memorable for the audience.”
The Gruffalo Spotters trail and The Gruffalo Spotter app will launch from February 20th and run until the end of September 2017.
The Gruffalo Spotters app is free from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon and requires downloading before your visit.
Launch dates differ between forests, for further details please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo