Canadian company offers personalized animated videos
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
In today’s digital age, it takes more than a Valentine’s Day card to express your emotions in a truly personal way. That’s why AStoryBoardZ (ASBZ) in Toronto has created Video Valentines, an animated video postcard that users can customize with their own audio and text. The short video features animation of a couple having a conversation while riding in a hot air balloon. ASBZ is seeking $750 in funding from their Kickstarter campaign, which ends on February 8—just enough time to get the rewards out to the backers in time for Valentine’s Day.
“We’ve talked with our friends and they said it’s a great idea to give people a new way to express their feelings,” said Alikhan Zhanuzakov, co-founder of ASBZ. “Most of the people think that a video with their audio message is more than enough, but we thought maybe backers would like to add a personal visual touch to the video and added rewards with customization.”
The rewards include animated wallpaper for $5, wallpaper plus an animated Video Valentine with custom voiceover for $15, wallpaper plus voiceover plus a Video Valentine with a custom icon for $25, or all of the rewards plus customized text added to the end of the Video Valentine for $40. Most of the rewards will be delivered by February 14, but for backers who don’t mind waiting, there are discounts on certain reward tiers that will be delivered in March.
The team at AStoryBoardZ have worked together for more than four years, mostly creating art for mobile apps. However, ASBZ founder Akmal Salkhov always wanted to make movies, which led the team to pursue storyboard and concept art projects.
Now they are making their first video game, RendeWoo, a dialogue-based game that follows a couple having a conversation on a hot air balloon ride with the player controlling either Her or Him. There will be 10 storylines, 5 for Her and 5 for Him, which will each take at least 25 minutes to complete.
“Depending on what you choose to say or ask, you seamlessly switch between storylines,” Salkhov said. “The game tries to identify what you are pursuing, along with what your goals and values are. For example, you can help this couple build a new family or destroy their relationships, you can try to be a good friend or use Her/Him for your personal interests.”
The game is expected to be finished in April–May and released in online game stores such as Steam and GOG, with future releases planned for mobile app stores.
Since some of the RendeWoo game art was already completed, Salkhov decided it would be a good idea to offer the hot air balloon scene as a customizable Video Valentine.
“Because RendeWoo has a romantic environment, I thought, ‘Why not make a video template out of art that’s already done?’ So in a couple of days, we prepared footage for the animation and launched the campaign,” Salkhov said.
“It’s our first campaign and it was launched in a rush because we wanted to be on time with the eve of Valentine’s Day. But even if our project does not reach its funding goal, we are happy that we at least tried to share the idea of another way to make people we love a little bit happier,” he said.
If the campaign doesn’t reach $750 by February 8, ASBZ still plans to make the Video Valentines available to their fans.
“We’re thinking about creating a dedicated page on our game’s website where people could order Romantic Video Postcards for their beloved,” Zhanuzakov said. “We’ll also run giveaways on our Facebook page.”
For those who want even more customizable options, RendeWoo will offer players the option to create their own video stories in the game’s dialogue editor.
“Imagine a video postcard, but this time it’s interactive,” Zhanuzakov said. “Every person will be able to create her/his own version of RendeWoo in the dialogue editor, which can be learned in minutes. The dialogue editor will export your data and create your version of the story. The person you love will be able to play your interactive romantic postcard on web browsers, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.”
To learn more about ASBZ, check out their website at AStoryBoardZ.com, connect with them at Facebook.com/AStoryBoardZ, or go to their Kickstarter campaign: Video Valentines – an animated short featuring your message.