Having enjoyed Baobab Studio’s first two movies, Asteroids! and Invasion!, I’ve been looking forward to seeing how the studio has advanced with its latest offering Crow: The Legend. Animation projects (I feel) tend to be one of the best ways of showcasing how virtual reality (VR) works, laying out beautiful worlds that aren’t intrusive or intense, letting the viewer really soak in the world around them. And so with Baobab’s third film the team have once again created a rich experience, that this time adds a hint of user interaction.
The actual story is based on a Native American tale involving titular character Crow, who just so happens to be a beautiful bird, dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, and with a voice akin to a glamorous songbird. In his forest, he’s popular and admired by all the creatures, who come to listen to him sing. However, this idyllic life changes forever when the creatures experience their first winter. Cold and shivering they need to hatch a plan to survive, asking Crow to fly up to the heavens and request for summer to be returned. The only problem is that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Straight away it’s easy to tell that Baobab Studio design and feel from its other movies. There’s a lovely richness to the animation style and colour palette that invites the viewer to look around and really get a grounding for where they are in the scene. The characters almost seem to be right in front of you, close enough to pick up and sit on your lap.
All the animals themselves do come to life thanks to a well-chosen cast of actors, with the soulful John Legend taking the role of Crow (he was also executive producer on the production), with Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) as Skunk, and even Oprah Winfrey as ‘The One Who Creates Everything By Thinking’.
There are two things I especially enjoy about Crow: The Legend when it comes to VR movies. The first is simply duration. Coming in at around 20 minutes in length, Crow: The Legend is one of the longer immersive movies available, clocking in at around the same time as a cartoon on TV – minus the adverts of course. As such it doesn’t come across as some sort of taster to a bigger experience, it rightfully stands on its own two feet.
The second is interactivity. Just as I found with Spheres, adding that light touch of interaction can do the world of good connecting you to the material. It’s something I’m coming to expect from all this type of content, creators don’t just make use of VR’s 360 capabilities, use the controllers as well to properly showcase why it was made for VR. The interaction itself is only mild, helping move the story along at key points, but it’s enough that younger viewers should be enthralled.
Quite frankly if you haven’t seen Crow: The Legend already – I was a little late in watching it – then download it now. Because what’s better than a fun 20-minute animation is one that’s completely free. There’s nothing to dislike about Crow: The Legend and it’s another good VR showcase for showing to those new to the technology.