Blown Away by Pixar Vets’ ‘Windy Day’ on the Moto X

Exploring an immersive new world in 'Windy Day'

Exploring an immersive new world in ‘Windy Day’

I noticed an icon of a little red hat at the top of my new Moto X phone a couple days ago. I was mildly curious, but too busy editing to investigate it. Then, last night, while I was playing with the device, that hat suddenly turned 3D and started flitting about my phone’s screen as if blown by a gentle wind.

Somehow it had escaped from the grid.

Of course I started to cautiously follow the hat, wondering what the heck was going on, then tentatively poked at it. And then I was in a cartoon world in which I controlled the camera. For five or so minutes, I followed a mouse around a forest as it chased after the hat and encountered other woodland creatures. The last time I’d been so enchanted by something computer-related was the first time I’d seen the dancing baby in the late nineties.

But this is new territory. This short film/game/what-have-you represents a first step toward interactive augmented-reality entertainment. And I’m sure that’s what Motorola/Google is betting on, after spending millions to hire a team of Pixar vets to create this amazing surprise gift for its Moto X customers.

The short, called “Windy Day,” was created by Motorola’s new Spotlight Stories platform, which the company describes as a “creative canvas for storytellers.”

Curiously absent from “Windy Day” was any apparent brand tie-in or commercial plea.

“At a high level, we think about this as a free gift to our users,” Motorola’s Baback Elmieh told StudioDaily. “There is no revenue model behind it.”

One “Windy Day” team member suggested this could represent the baby steps for a wild new future entertainment.

“You’re throwing cinematography out the window,” Pixar animator Doug Sweetland told StudioDaily. “What we’ve made is definitely not a videogame, but it has a little bit of videogame DNA in it, in that it is a long, continuous camera move with no cuts.”

Read StudioDaily’s excellent writeup for the technical lowdown.