It’s not often that you need to look inside a sick pirate to see what may be the matter, but when you do, a Pirate X-Ray Machine is just what you’ll need.
Until today, I hadn’t ever considered one, but in a brainstorming session with illustrator Zach Clough I came up with the idea after mulling the comparative dearth of interactive possibilities on page 14 of our soon-to-be-released book app titled ‘The Day I Became A Pirate‘.
Page 14 has our sick pirate, Jerry (you’ll meet him later) lain on the beach where he is being attended to by The Boy. Under circumstances which shall not be divulged at this time, there is a need to see what is in the sick pirate’s stomach. Zach created a collection of items that are mentioned in the story, and I animated them in TaleSpring as a movie of sorts, scrolling through each item in sequence and leaving the page with only a single interactive action.
My first concept draft.
This would simply not do for a book app that has between four and eight interactive clickable actions on each page. Oh, no siree.
I decided to break up the action and make each item (in the pirate’s stomach) a separate action to explore and visualize. This certainly seemed much more fun but required a mechanism to allow the reader to control the action. Enter: The Pirate X-Ray Machine.
The first of its kind, I am certain.
Initially drafted by me as a scroll of pirate parchment with buttons for each x-ray item, I sent my idea to Zach as a draft illustration based on a combination of some items we already had in the story.
Pencil sketch as the idea began to take shape.
Zach wasn’t gelling with the idea, so we kept working it out. We tossed around a few ideas when suddenly Zach went silent for an extra few minutes during our Skype conversation. His next message indicated he was going to send me a text message, and only a few seconds later I received an image on my phone. Zach had penciled out a quick drawing of a pirate x-ray machine made of wood; perfect!
We talked through a few adjustments and it wasn’t long thereafter that I was working on the animation of a full-fledged pirate x-ray machine complete with working switch and some exciting sounds to go along with the action. The page is now fully animated and almost plays like a pirate game. It’s a lot of fun!
A final component of the Pirate X-Ray Machine
We are both pretty excited about our page 14; it has 10 interactive buttons and just over 100 animation elements making it one of our most active and exciting pages to date!
I’m really hoping everyone loves all the fun things we are doing with my pirate story. In the meantime, I’m having a great time building it and enjoy sharing the progress with my wife and children. The collaborative process has been very productive, and it’s been great working with an illustrator who has really jumped in with both feet to catch the vision and add to the story.
Zach is excited, too, and has been sneaking a few peaks to his children, also. We are both thrilled to be so near the finish line after over a year of work, planning and brainstorming.
More to come; stay tuned!
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Thanks! —Cary Snowden