Responses by Julia Sourikoff, executive producer of AR/VR/360, Tool of North America and Ryan Radley, producer, RPA Advertising
Background: A cancer diagnosis is scary for anyone, especially for a young child encountering complex terminology, procedures and treatments. The Imaginary Friends Society film series was originally created for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to help patients and their families build up strength and confidence in trying times. The augmented reality (AR) experience app brings these fictional characters to life in the real world using a mobile device, and can provide extra emotional support and encouragement when needed.
Reasoning: The ability to bring the characters from the film series to life through positional AR technology has a powerful impact on a patient’s confidence and emotional state. It’s a great example of AR being used as a force for good, and a tool for encouragement and positive reinforcement.
Challenges: Converting the character assets from the videos into 3-D elements to be viewed in AR. Because multiple animation studios contributed to the film series, there were a lot of teams involved, and each character required a unique optimization process.
Time constraints: Since May is National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, we wanted the app to launch around the same time to cross align with other efforts and initiatives happening around the cause. It would have been great to include more characters from the film series, but we’re happy with the final results nonetheless!
Specific demands: When we shot the teaser film for the AR experience, we had the privilege of bringing two incredible families to the shoot, who had recently gone through cancer treatments. As you could imagine, it was a situation that required the utmost care and sensitivity, which was a very different type of “demand” than what’s typically encountered on set. It didn’t make the project easier or harder, just more human and emotional.
Alternative approach: In a second iteration of the app, I’d love to see more interactivity implemented so that kids could have a more meaningful and deeper connection to the characters. I think it would be a powerful method for natural language processing to start conversation in AR.