D23 Expo 2013: Disney Interactive, Part II (everything that’s not Disney Infinity)

During the Disney Interactive presentation, Disney Infinity (see this post) was the main feature, and was honestly the only reason I was interested in attending the session.   But there was quite a bit more content, and Disney Interactive was successful in getting me interested in more than just the Infinity system.

The non-Infinity content included:

  • Fantasia: Music Evolved.    A game that allows you to “perform and transform” your favorite music.
  • Interactive Web Series, including Blank and it’s a small world
  • The Animated app for iPad

Fantasia: Music Evolved

This new game is coming to the XBox Kinect in 2014.    It has somewhat of a Guitar Hero or Rock Bank style of gameplay, but instead of playing instruments, the player is in the role of the orchestra conductor.    If you’ve ever picked up a pencil and mimed leading the orchestra as your favorite music plays, then you know how to play this game.   On screen cues tell you whether you should be gesturing with one hand or both, and in what direction; as you do better (hit more of the cues), you earn new instruments and unlock additional gameplay possibilities.

The game is set in various fantastic realms — one that was demoed was an underwater oasis called The Shoal.   We saw a demonstration of playing in this environment with Bohemian Rhapsody as the score.

There is something of a mixing board aspect to the game as well, although I did not completely catch on to how that is manipulated by the player.   But there are three different recordings of Bohemian Rhapsody in the game; the Queen version, an all-orchestral version, and another that I didn’t get the details of.   The game player can blend from all three of these to create a unique arrangement.

There is also a Musical Manipulator that comes up occasionally (as it is earned for certain in-game achievements) that allows adding additional effects.

Night on Bald Mountain is another track that was mentioned as being included.

New score for the game’s classical tracks was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, accompanied by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

At this point, the gameplay demonstration was done, but a live orchestra platform slid onto stage and we were treated to a live performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.    Classy and totally unexpected way to wrap up the segment.

Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story

This is a 12-episode web series coming this fall.   We saw a lengthy bit of this (not sure if it was a full episode, but definitely enough to make me want to catch a bit more).    Even as someone not into the collecting aspect of vinylmation, I found this to be charming and cute — and somewhat amazing, as we have two animated characters that have no faces, and yet are able to convey emotion just from their posture and head tilt.

Trailer available here.

it’s a small world

Another animated series — very little was said about this one, other than there will be new Richard-Sherman composed music for it.

If I was able to find anything about this online I’d link to it, but I did not see anything … it may be too early for teasers to have started appearing.


This iPad app was the sleeper hit of the presentation for me.    It is, in some respects, the complete history of Disney Animation captured in a single app.   Every animated feature from Snow White to Frozen can be accessed and studied.

In the app, you can explore all the different phases of developing an animated feature, including Art in Motion, Story, Visual Development, Character,  Layout & Background, Animation, Visual Effects, Sound Design & Music, and Putting it All together.

There is a very strong learning aspect to the app — including exercises to help you learn how animation is done, and try your hand at it.   Starting with a simple stretch-and-squash exercise with a bouncing ball, and proceeding up through manipulating complex CGI characters much the way animators do today.

So much of the app is animated … if you are reading text on a page, and there is an image of Steamboat Willie in the corner of the page, that isn’t just a static image.   Touch it and it turns into a film clip from the Steamboat Willie cartoon.    I’m not sure how many such clips are in the app, but it seems there must be hours’ worth — every page has images scattered around the border, and each such image links you to interactive content.

A timeline allows you to see all 53 Disney Animated films to date (represented by their movie posters).   But like everything else in the app, it’s not just a string of static images.   Click on any one to drill down and learn move about the film.   Each major character is represented (of course, with a clip).   Links allow you to download music from the film in iTunes.    Background art, concept sketches, trailers — there is just so much to explore.

A unique “color map” feature almost seems to have every frame of the film represented (I’m sure it’s not — but a very generous sampling was used to show the color tones used throughout the feature).      It’s actually kind of mesmerizing to zoom out to the view that shows you all the animated films on one page … pick an interesting patch of color and see what it is.   Click and and see individual frames from the film, along with a selection of music from the film’s score).   Scrub your finger along the movie’s color map and you can watch the movie (in extremely condensed form) in just a few seconds.

There are hours of entertainment here, and it’s a great demonstration of the kind of application where the iPad really excels.   Animated is $13.99 and is available here.    (By the way — the app is 1.78 GB in size, you don’t want to download this over your cellular connection.   And you may have to delete something to make room).

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