Magazine article Variety

Moonbot Keeps Platforms Flying

Magazine article Variety

Moonbot Keeps Platforms Flying

Article excerpt

Moonbot Studios is nominally an animation house, but that's a limiting description when it conies to telling the story of the two-year-old shingle co-founded by awardwinning children's author and animated-feature veteran William Joyce.

"Our properties . . . our stories - we don't see them as just one thing in one medium," says Joyce, who started the studio in his hometown of Shreveport, La., with Reel FX Creative Services co-founder Brandon Oldenburg and producer Lampión Enochs. "We sort of sit there and go: 1Is this a great movie? 1Is this a great book?' And if the answers are 'yes,' then we think of them in whatever different (form is applicable)."

Moonbot's first project, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," has borne oui that approach. It debuted as an iPad app (selling more than 120,000 downloads since last summer). That was followed by an animated short film that's been nommed for an Oscar - and a book version is due from Simon & Shuster later this year.

Follow-up project "The Numberlys," made to fit the iPad's vertical orientation, has sold 20,000 downloads since it preemed last month. The upcoming short-film version - dubbed by Moonbot as "the tallest short film in the world" - will retain the iPad's vertical aspect ratio and also will be followed by a book version.

Joyce says the app for "Lessmore" came about almost by accident, well into production on the short film and book, when the iPad was introduced, and filled a previously unarticulated void. "It wasn't a book and it wasn't a movie - it was something in between. We had been wanting that, but not knowing what that was."

But more than just porting content from one medium to the next,, Moonbot tailors the work to each platform. The story app blends aspects of the film and the book, offers minigames and explorable environments, and leans on computer interactivity. The short has met with obvious success, and with the book featuring original illustrations, each version of "Lessmore" stands on its own, Oldenburg says.

"They all justify their own existence, and we want to make sure (of) that.".

Digital distribution helped "Lessmore" and Moonbot reach a far wider audience than a book or short would typically reach alone. "You don't have to make a distribution deal; you don't have to court five or six different companies," Enochs says. …

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