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The Gruffalo is brought to life in forests across the UK via AR app from Nexus

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In the first development of its kind, Magic Light Pictures and the Forestry Commission England are bring characters from The Gruffalo to life in an actual forest through the power of augmented reality. The Gruffalo Spotter app has been designed for exclusive use at twenty six forests across the country where visitors can join the adventure through the “deep dark wood.”

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Families will follow clues on an interactive trail and track signs of their favourite characters based on The Gruffalo, the best-selling picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. These clues lead to 5 different Augmented Reality markers; footprint signposts, specific to each one of the characters. For example little footprints for Mouse, a slithery trail for Snake, fox tracks for Fox, bird footprints for Owl and the unmistakable great big Gruffalo footprint. When the visitor aims their device at the footprint marker, a short animation of that character is triggered, blending in with its natural surroundings.

The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with fantastic activities along the way. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos alongside them. Their photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery, from where it can be shared via social media with the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters. Taking family forest walks to new heights, the app mixes technology with the real world, encouraging children to get exploring, firing their imaginations and enabling them to have an all-new forest experience.

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The Gruffalo Spotter’s app has been has been created by Nexus Studios’ innovative Interactive Arts division and is available for free with no in-app purchases. Featuring bold and intuitive design, the app is perfectly suited for easy use by the whole family. A Gruffalo Spotters kit will be available to buy on site and includes animal facts and tips for tracking wildlife, an evidence collection bag, a magnifying glass and a pencil to make a note of your forest finds!

Bridgette Hall, Recreation Manager for the Forestry Commission England, said: “This is such an exciting development and will deliver a completely different forest experience for our visitors. The Gruffalo is a world renowned story and to be able to bring the characters to life in their natural setting is fantastic. It’s great we’ve had the opportunity to join the two worlds of technology and nature together in a sensitive way!” Sam Southward, Director at Nexus Studios, added: “One of the exciting things about The Gruffalo Spotter is the way in which we have scaled up the AR technology to create close to life-sized characters in a real world location. Up until this point, the majority of AR has been a smaller and more controlled experience, but for this project we really wanted to see how much we could push it. On a technical level, we have included a few clever techniques to better integrate the characters into their outdoor surroundings, such as designing the animation to work from the ground up, giving the characters a stage, which will hopefully make the experience even more magical and memorable for the audience.”

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The Gruffalo Spotters trail and The Gruffalo Spotter app will launch from February 20th and run until the end of September 2017. The Gruffalo Spotters app is free from the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon, and requires downloading before your visit. Launch dates differ between forests, for further details, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo.

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