The Challenge

Warner Brothers Studios based in Burbank, CA approached ISBX with the goal of launching an interactive, character-driven, iOS application for its upcoming title, Happy Feet Two. On the heels of a $380M box office of the original Happy Feet, Warner Brothers desired to create an application that would further increase immersion into the brand and serve as a promotional tool by incorporating a Facebook sharing feature with a link to download the application.

ISBX was met with a particularly challenging request - enabling a user's interaction with characters that were entirely animated and rendered in computer graphics, thereby rendering obsolete the traditional avenues of using a green screen recording of the talent or frame by frame animation of a cartoon character. The additional challenge revolved around the complexity of the proposed hero character for the App - a feature film quality rigged and modeled character, that had to then be stripped of its defining qualities, and re-designed from the ground up. This meant that things like the texture of basecoat, the fur, the lighting and the movement of the character itself had to be designed and animated by ISBX and its team with the eventual requirement to handle animations for a dozen unique actions, interactive responses and gestures.

The Solution

ISBX proposed for an interactive game modeled after the popular video game franchise, Talking Tom and Friends. ISBX aptly named the in-game experience, "Talking Happy" which featured an interactive element based on certain touch gestures by the user and a corresponding animation after each interaction.

Some examples of these animations include:

  • Various Dance Animations
  • High Five Animation
  • Tickle Animation
  • Jumping Fish Animation
  • Talking Happy Impatient and Inactivity Animations

In addition to this, ISBX designed and built a memory game similar in format to the classic "Simon Says" game. ISBX's take was to use a series of drum beats performed by the animated character, that the user would then duplicate by tapping the corresponding drums, with each successful completion culminating in an appropriate animation. After completing three progressively challenging and randomized beats, the user was rewarded with longer celebratory animations.

The final feature involved an actual talking version of the "Talking Happy" character, which consisted of the ability for a user to record their voice for any duration of time and then witness the Talking Happy character recite the exact same phrase back to them. The user could then save this recording and post it up to their Facebook page for social promotion.

In order to perform the complex animations of the feature character, ISBX requested for the delivery of the original 3D asset from Warner Brothers Studios. As a result of licensing restrictions, ISBX was instructed to recreate certain features of the character including the eyes, skin texture and fur.

To sum up the work involved to create a single 3D element such as fur, would require explanation of self-shadowing each fur fiber, rendering of each individual polygon and fur texel, understanding of vertex normal and direction of hair growth and a general understanding of 3D computer graphics. In short, the recreation of these elements was an incredibly labor intensive process, but nothing ISBX was not up to. After recreating each of the required elements, ISBX's team then had to rig the model in order to properly articulate the simulated movement of the final character. Each animation was painstakingly created, frame by frame, from the rigged 3D model and required thousands of hours of computer rendering time in order to create the sum of all animations. These animations were then converted over to a video format and then sliced up into frame-by-frame animations for use in the final application.


Downloads on App Store

Happy Feet Two

The Results

The result of the incredible amount of time and work was for the production and completion of one of the most successful marketing driven mobile apps ISBX has ever created with impressive statistics to support it:

  • 1 Million Downloads in 3 months
  • 32M Pageviews and 8.7 million sessions to date
  • 57% Usage on iPad
  • Mean Session Duration of 1 hour 11 minutes
  • Apple Top 50
  • Downloads in 150 counties

Most importantly, our client, one of the largest and most prominent movie studios in the industry, was incredibly pleased and moved forward to enhance the application into a multi-tiered paid experience that would later promote the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the movie.