June 5, 2013

Out Of This World

The Loop > Magazine > Issue 3

By Dave Addey

I live in a filter bubble. I read the same blogs, attend the same conferences, and discuss the same issues in my world of app development. For the past few years, I’ve been trying to doing something about it.

It’s all too easy to get trapped in your own filter bubble. For this reason, I try to involve people from outside of our world in all of the app projects we work on at Agant. We have a very creative development team, but our experience of the world is inevitably shaped by the way we use technology as early adopters. We can’t help but be influenced by our own set of interests and specialisms.

We’re not history buffs or professional animators; and yet we’ve made apps for both of these audiences over the past few years. To create these kinds of projects, it’s essential that we collaborate with people from outside of our world. These people bring experiences and skills that we just don’t have in-house, enabling them to spot ideas and opportunities that we may not see ourselves.

Here’s an example. In 2011, we launched an annotated comics app with cartoonist and animator Sydney Padua. Following the success of this project, we decided to create a second app together, this time bringing animation and interaction into the comics page itself.

We held a hack weekend with Sydney at the start of this new project to prototype how these interactive comics might work. During this hack weekend, Sydney came up with a draggable comics panel, whose content changes as it moves across the screen. We mocked it up in code, and really liked it—so much so, in fact, that it became a core part of the app’s functionality.

At about the same time, we started work on an iPad app called The Animator’s Survival Kit, with publisher Faber & Faber. This app is based on the book of the same name by Oscar-winner Richard Williams. Richard was Head of Animation for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and his book has become the industry bible for professional and trainee animators. This app’s killer content is 106 example videos, illustrated and animated by Richard himself.

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