Baobab Studios, the well-funded vr animation startup founded by Madagascar and Antz co-director Eric Darnell and Zynga exec Maureen Fan, has announced its first episodic virtual reality series, Rainbow Crow. The first episode will premiere next week at the Tribeca Film Festival.
John Legend will voice the title character, as well as serve as executive producer on the project. “Rainbow Crow brings storytelling and music together in a way no one else has yet in virtual reality,” Legend said in a statement. “It’s an incredible medium for inspiring a journey of self-discovery and finding your way in times to darkness. In light of what’s going on in today’s world, it’s a message of deep meaning that people from all walks of life can embrace.”
Inspired by Native American folklore, the story is follows a bird “with the most dazzling plumage and mellifluous voice, who, after the planet turns dark and cold, must journey far from home to bring light back to the world.” Eric Darnell is directing the project. No public release date has been set for the series, and the number of episodes is not yet determined though the final project will be featurette-length.
Kiowa-Caddo tribal elder Randy Edmonds will narrate the series. “All Native American tales have a tradition of deep meaning and that’s why we tell the stories, sharing down the generations,” said Edmonds. “When I look at the impact these legends have, the insights they represent, taking that storytelling to a modern medium is extremely exciting. The beautiful vr work being created – inspired by our folklore – is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my many years.”
Baobab recently completed Series B funding of $25 million, and has raised $31 million to date. Backers of the company include Comcast Ventures, HTC, Samsung, Advancit Capital, The Chernin Group, Horizons Ventures, Twentieth Century Fox, Evolution Media Partners, Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund and LDV Partners, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.