Austin Animation Studio Releases Interactive Storybook

Mighty Coconut unveils augmented reality app 57° North

Just as it became clear that virtual reality wasn't going to blow up as quickly as predicted, augmented reality stole the spotlight with Pokémon GO. AR has more nuanced uses than placing a Ratata in your house with the help of your phone.

If this person has two hands on the Merge AR cube, then who is holding the phone?!

Local animation studio Mighty Coconut have thrown their hat in the AR ring with a new interactive storybook 57° North. The app for iOS or Android phones utilizes a Merge Cube, a non-virtual object with patterns all over it that facilitate the projection of virtual images onto and around its surfaces. As individual illustrated scenes end we’re given one to four options that are chosen by rotating the cube in that direction.

A narrator tells the tale of a couple of cousins whose boat hits a storm and get marooned on a Lost-esque island. The illustrations lend character to the yarn, and the choices feel consequential. The compelling tale takes roughly an hour or so to complete, depending on your choices. I worried my arms might get tired holding both my phone and the Merge, but the lightweight cube and the short story chapters made that a non-issue.

Mighty Coconut has made a name with Pixar-quality animated shorts. Studio co-founder Lucas Martell made “Pigeon: Impossible” in 2009. Will Smith is slated to lend his voice to a feature length version of that work. More recently Mighty Coconut released “The Oceanmaker” and were shopping it around in the hopes to make that into a feature film. If you’re familiar with their work – and you really should be, both shorts can be streamed for free – you know that they are both charming and polished. The same can be said of 57° North.

The main hurdle is the necessary Merge Cube not only denies you the instant gratification that comes with buying something for your phone but has a price tag of $15. Most app purchasers find anything upward of free to be too costly these days. Which is sad since they miss out on unique and enjoyable experiences like this. If you have interest in AR and what its possibilities are for mobile devices 57° North is an intriguing installment in an art form’s evolution.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Mighty Coconut
Hollywood Gets Animated About Austin
Hollywood Gets Animated About Austin
Local cartoon to become big-budget Will Smith vehicle

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 11, 2017

RTX: Austin Animation Update
RTX: Austin Animation Update
New Rooster Teeth show, Castlevania, and more

Richard Whittaker, July 17, 2017

More by James Renovitch
Top 10 Local Video Games
Top 10 Local Video Games
A horse-woman of the apocalypse and floppy fighting animals top Austin’s offerings

Dec. 28, 2018

Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
From essential box sets to writers’ wisdom: stocking fillers and the gifts that keep on giving for your watching pleasure

Dec. 7, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Mighty Coconut, 57° North, Pigeon: Impossible, The Oceanmaker

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle