Responses by Ulrika Karlberg, creative director, Firstborn
Background: We’re constantly experimenting with new and emerging tech, so AR has been on our radar for some time. Halloween is also a big event in our city, so we wanted to create an app that local New Yorkers could download and use when they were participating in the 44th annual Village Halloween parade.
Reasoning: Since this is a geo-targeted AR experience, we wanted it to take place along the infamous New York City Halloween parade route. From there, we had the idea for a “murder map” and then it was a matter of narrowing down the crimes, time period and visual aesthetic. After doing some research, we found some murders are more “spectacular” than others, so we aimed to find a right mix of good stories and what would be visually interesting.
Favorite details: We were able to create a fully immersive storytelling experience with voiceover narrating the crime at the exact location of the crime. But these murder stories are super interesting, so we wrote our own graphic articles to give users an option to learn about each crime without having to physically be in New York City.
Visual influences: We wanted the experience to have a sensationalistic feel, so we identified the most outrageously gruesome nineteenth-century murders. We were very inspired by a pulp noir design aesthetic and that informed our color palette of black and white, with the limited use of yellow for the newspaper headers and red for the blood.
Challenges: It was a challenge to decide on the exact visual aesthetic and how graphic we wanted the experience, because at the end of the day, we knew the app had to be approved by Apple. We went back and forth, sharing references from Grindhouse exploitation movies to more gothic themes reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. We found a happy medium and thankfully it was approved!
Time constraints: The timeline was pretty aggressive. From project kickoff to app launch, we created everything from the ground up in less than four weeks. While it gave us the focus we needed, there were a few visual effects, like a glitch effect to make the 3-D model more ghostlike, that we ended up killing.