A giant screen right in the middle of Times Square with a giant interactive character. What an amazing project!
North Kingdom had gotten a pretty hard task on their hands and we helped them deliver. Originally the idea was to have pre-rendered videos that would change depending on interaction, but we proposed to make it in Unity and animate the character in real-time.
We started out with design help on the actual character. He had to be a cute and fun loving dude, but not feel like a mascot. Then came the challenging task of actually building him in 3D. Already from start we knew we wanted him to have furry look so we decided to build our own custom fur shader. Making fur in real-time 3D is no easy task and we almost ripped our own fur of our heads before we got it right.
Then came the giant task of animating him, we ended up creating more than 140 character animations that fluidly could be linked together to create the appearance of a living character. Everything from taking a shower to putting his reading glasses on.
We wanted him to be able to interact as much as possible with the people in the street and making him in real-time 3D opened up for lots of possibilities. We ended up creating a real-time puppeteering system that could be enabled if needed, he could even write notes directly on big board to people in the street.
The character Gil was all about Good News. The Unity software was connected to SMS messages, RSS feeds and Tweets. He would even tell you the weather of tomorrow and of course react to that in his animation style. And of course at night he would crawl into his cute little sleeping cocoon.