Today Google's Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group announced its interactive storytelling environment Spotlight Stories will soon be open to outside developers and content creators. Like Virtual Reality without the headset, Spotlight Stories puts the camera into the hands of the viewer, providing a unique window through which to experience each story. The mobile device is the viewfinder, and users can point it anywhere they like as the story unfolds.
Today also marks the release of the fourth Spotlight Story, "Help". Directed by Justin Lin (“Fast and Furious" films, "Star Trek 3”), "Help" is the first Spotlight Story filmed in 360° live action. Earlier stories were created by veteran directors and animators from Pixar and Disney. For storytellers accustomed to controlling all aspects of camera and staging in a linear way, it is a leap of faith to submit control to the viewer, and this calls for a unique set of tools.
DigitalFish engineers are working alongside the Google ATAP team to invent and deliver these new storytelling tools. Involving both extensions to existing Digital Content Creation (DCC) software and wholly new standalone tools, the Spotlight Stories Story Development Kit (SDK) will enable independent studios to create their own immersive mobile shorts by simplifying the creation of an asynchronous story through an easy-to-use interface. The tools and DCC integration are designed to function in any modern studio environment and are already in use on upcoming Spotlight Stories.
DigitalFish continues to pioneer the concept of non-linear storytelling and non-linear DCC pipelines, concepts core to the SDK and we believe vital to the future of digital-media creation. We look forward to future challenges: creating a more artist-friendly way to support 3-D storyboarding and building an integrated development environment where an artist can create and animate a character quickly without needing to move repeatedly between multiple tools.
The Spotlight Stories viewer is now available on Google Play for higher-end Android handsets. Google will also showcase Spotlight Stories content on YouTube, ensuring a wide audience for this brave new medium that was born as an R&D project.