Aardman – the Bristol-based creator of Wallace and Gromit – has worked with publisher HarperCollins to develop the official companion app for The Hobbit.
The Hobbit: Official Visual Companion App was released to coincide with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second instalment in the trilogy that's in cinemas now. It features an interactive 3D map of Middle-earth, which users can navigate to discover photos and facts about the characters, locations and artefacts from both The Hobbit movies and the JRR Tolkien's book.
The app will be updated in the lead up to the release of the third and final film over the next two years, bringing new interviews, content for younger users and "more immersive experiences," HarperCollins said in a press release.
The Hobbit: Official Visual Companion App was created using the Unity engine, which is more commonly used for games development. HarperCollins says that this is the first time it has used this type of engine as a publisher, but that it provided Aardman with a powerful way to create the 3D assets you see within the application (below). The idea is to make the user feel like they're in a physical space, creating a more immersive experience.
Find out more about how the app was created by watching the video at the top of this article, which features HarperCollins' Digital Creative Director, Eric Winbolt, and the Creative Director at Aardman, Jake Manion.