Rex’s App World
Last week Kenrick posted about our app trailer. When we brainstormed the app trailer prior to making it, we knew that we wanted it to be entertaining but also serious and professional-looking. Our friend and video expert, Sean, came up with an idea we loved. Since Rex (the app) is all about finding apps and games perfect for the user, what if we filmed the video as though Rex (the dinosaur with the rockin’ shades) were using the app? That is, what if we replaced our app world, the human app world, with Rex’s 100% cooler dinosaur app world?
I loved this idea immediately because it afforded me the opportunity to step away from Terminal for a few days and take a creative interlude into the world of concepting and designing dinosaur apps.
The first step was to brainstorm possible dinosaur-themed apps. For this, I recruited the help of Sean, who in addition to mastering the dark arts of film-editing is a pretty funny guy, and my own personal Douglas Adams, my little brother Justin.
Here are a couple of examples of some of the better ideas we ended up dropping:
- Internet Excavator
Inspired by Internet Explorer
- Carcass Search
Allthescavengers has the most accurate carcass locater and a vibrant community of scavengers. It’s like stealing carcasses from friends and neighbors!
Inspired by Recipe Search
- Egg-Stealers Search
*Featured on the Daily BUZZ TV Show, March 18th: “This is the app you need to know about to protect your children”
Inspired by Sex Offenders Search
Creating the Icons
We based every app on a clear inspiration that we believed to be recognizable in the human app world. For each app icon I created, I would pull up the human version as a reference and recreate it in Adobe Illustrator, replacing any characters in them with their dinosaur counterparts.
I was given a budget of about 3 days to complete a total of 18 dinosaur-themed app icons and 6 dinosaur-themed screenshots, so I reined in my inner perfectionist and tried to spit these out as efficiently as I could. All of the app icons were vectors created with the trusty pen tool (with the inclusion of some stock images for textures), except for NEED FOR MEAT™: T-Rex which was a photo-manipulation created in Photoshop.
Day 1: Dinobook, OkDino, AccuMeteor, Human Smasher, Fossil Ninja, Volcano Run, Angry Pterodactyls, Angry Pterodactyls Space, & Angry Pterodactyls Pangea
I started with the simplest icons in our lineup: Dinobook (based on Facebook), OkDino (based on OkCupid), and AccuMeteor: Asteroid Forecasts (based on AccuWeather). These took a total of about 1.5 hours.
Next, I worked on Human Smasher (based on Ant Smasher), Fossil Ninja (based on Fruit Ninja), and Volcano Run (based on Temple Run), both of which I got a little too excited about and took a bit too long on (total ~3.5-4.5hrs).
Next it was time to tackle the Angry Pterodactyls line of apps (clearly based on Angry Birds). This set of apps was selected strategically not only because they clustered conveniently on the App Explorer, but also because they all contained similar imagery and style, which made for quicker creation since after all, we were in a hurry. These took a total of ~2.5 hrs.
Day 2: Bad Raptors, Raptor Race, FlightTrack, & Godzilla Firelizard
The next morning I continued on our line of Rovio parodies with Bad Raptors, a game featuring the naughty oviraptors who have been stealing the pterodactyls eggs again (based on Bad Piggies). This took a total of ~1.5 hrs including research, since I actually had no clue what an oviraptor looked like. Even with research, the bad raptors still looked like manic bird-pigs, but I swallowed my pride and moved on. There was no time to fixate on how one draws a decent stupid-looking raptor.
After a short break to troubleshoot a breaking development server and export completed resources, I moved on to Raptor Race (based on Bike Race Free - Top Free Game). At this point I was feeling pretty good about my skillz with the pen tool and pretty much stopped bothering with sketches at all.
FlightTrack (based on Mobiata’s FlightTrack Free) took another half hour or so.
I then struggled for an embarrassingly long, not well-documented amount of time to imitate the logo and app icon for Mozilla Firefox, which I’ve long admired. After a couple hours of completely overcomplicating the vector, I realized that we didn’t really need “Godzilla Firelizard” anyway, Godzilla isn’t even a dinosaur, and firelizards probably only exist on Pern and therefore served no purpose except to testify my middle school nerdiness. I abandoned the effort and moved on with my life.
Day 3: Pteri Fly, Tarpit Surfers, Dino Joyride, Brontosaurus Climb Racing
At the beginning of day 3, we realized that we needed to change up our storyboard and struggled to come up with a series of “similar apps” that would enable us to still make use of the resources I’d already created. That morning is why I forgive myself for taking a day 4. After we planned those new scenes, I got straight to work with Pteri, Fly (based on Dragon, Fly!), Tarpit Surfers (based on Subway Surfers), Dino Joyride (based on Jetpack Joyride), and Brontosaurus Climb Racing (based on Hill Climb Racing). The blobbiness of our jetpacked dino in Dino Joyride, the recycling of Jake’s head in Tarpit Surfers and Dino Joyride, and the decision to model Pteri, Fly and Brontosaurus Climb Racing off of apps with simpler app icons are all testaments to how rushed I was starting to feel.
Day 4: Dino BMX Stunts, NEED FOR MEAT™ T-Rex, & Extinction
On day 4, I was starting to feel a little worn from marathoning app icons, so I got very excited when I discovered Extinction, an actual dinosaur-themed runner game that fit perfectly in Rex’s app world. If we were going to include a single real app in the video, this was going to be it, and we would thereafter tell everybody to go download this totally adorable game in which you help Trippy the Triceratop escape from extinction.
Anyway, Dino BMX Stunts (based on Ace Viral’s StickMan BMX Stunts Bike) went smoothly in 1.5 hrs of free-hand vectoring. Then it was time for the requisite 3D, HD racing game.
My laptop is a relic from oh, maybe 2009, so it’s pretty sluggish in general. This is one of the major reasons why I spend so much time in Adobe Illustrator and so little in Adobe Photoshop. Raster images make poor old Lappy go kaputz. There was no question in my mind, however that an HD racing game icon was a task for Photoshop. Surprisingly, the icon for NEED FOR MEAT™ T-Rex (based on NEED FOR SPEED™ Shift and every other NEED FOR SPEED™ game) didn’t take more than an hour or so of work. The icon didn’t turn out perfectly, but I took a deep breath and let go of my withering perfectionism. Nobody was going to inspect the icon in the app video anyway, right?
Putting the Pieces Together
One of the constraints we dealt with while inventing Rex’s dinosaur app world was the fact that we were, after all, trying to demo our app. We needed to demonstrate meaningful links between apps and high-quality, targeted app recommendations. This proved both helpful (it’s always easier to think creatively when you’re given a prompt!) and bothersome (we had to discard some app ideas that we loved and ended up with some mediocre puns out of necessity).
Ultimately though, I’m really happy with the results and had a ton of fun! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into Rex’s app world as much as I have.