Tag Archives: iPhone

On digital rights

Today we’ll wrap up our exploration of electronic media with the issue of digital rights. Our chat with Michel Kripalani of Oceanhouse Media continues…

7.  How closely involved is Dr. Seuss Enterprises with creating the app?

Michel Kripalani: Dr. Seuss Enterprises owns all digital rights, so we were able to engage in licensing arrangements directly with them. They are very involved at the onset of each app and also at the stage of final review. They approve all voice-over actors and all aspects of each app. That said, the “middle 90%” where we go off and do our production work is generally all managed entirely by the Oceanhouse Media team.

8. In your licensing agreement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, you absorb the costs of producing the app, from start to finish. You’ve already completed 16 out of 44 titles. How long does it take, on the average, to complete production of one story app?

Michel Kripalani: On average, we’ll spend about 8 weeks developing each omBook™,  now that the foundational technology is in place.  Multiple disciplines are involved during this time, including graphic designers, voice-over artists, sound effects artists and musicians, technical artists, programmers, management, and the licensor.

9. The Cat in the Hat app sells for $3.99, and is usable on any Apple mobile device — that is, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You sell a separate version for the Android. How many Dr. Seuss apps have you sold overall so far?

Tia plays on an iPad


 

Michel Kripalani: We’ve sold over 500,000 Dr. Seuss apps (in total) and we recently crossed the one million mark for paid app downloads at the App Store (all Oceanhouse Media apps). This is fairly astounding when you consider that the company is only 2 years old. Amazingly, just two and a half years ago, very few people had ever even heard of apps.

10.  What advice would you give to new and seasoned authors (and, if applicable, their agents) concerning electronic rights when they draw up contracts on their future books?

Michel Kripalani: When an author is in a position to keep physical and digital book rights distinct, we have found that it just makes sense for them to do so.

Oftentimes, an author may want to work directly with an app publisher on the digital versions of their books, regardless of who holds the print rights. There are major differences in competencies between a physical book publisher and a digital app developer / publisher. Authors need to ask themselves if they would be better served crafting deals appropriately.

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From games to children’s story apps

We continue our exploration of developing books for electronic media with a visit to Oceanhouse Media. Located in Encinitas, California, they are the creators of many best-selling apps, including classic Dr. Seuss books, Berenstain Bears titles, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Mercer Meyer’s Little Critter series.

Today, we chat with Michel Kripalani, Founder and President of Oceanhouse Media.

Michel Kripalani, CEO and founder, Oceanhouse Media Inc.

Michel Kripalani

1.  You founded Oceanhouse Media (OM) in early 2009, after working as Director of Business Development at Autodesk, and before that, as CEO/founder of Presto Studios, developers of the graphic video games, “The Journeyman Project” and “Myst III: Exile.” Several members of your current team of developers also came from the video game arena. Was it a natural segue to go from gaming to the world of children’s picture books? Or was it an entirely new world for you?

The Dr. Seuss camera, an iPhone app

Michel Kripalani: Switching from the gaming world to children’s picture books was a straightforward process for us. My history in producing interactive material goes back to 1990 when I was a lead programmer for Verbum Magazine, the world’s first interactive multimedia magazine. We were riding the launch of CD-ROM. I’ve been involved in interactive mediums ever since.

Certain aspects of gaming engines are particularly well suited and have similar “under the hood” features and product demands as digital books. Our team’s extensive experience building cross-platform engines for different displays and devices made the transition to digital books relatively easy for us.

Earlier apps developed by Oceanhouse Media include interactive
card decks, for clients like Hay House and Chronicle Books

Our gaming software experience became especially important when we developed the architecture for the initial iPhone apps. Its design and programming set the groundwork for our iPad apps, and now the framework for Android apps as well.

“Lorax Garden,”  an iPhone Game

Our omBooks™ (Oceanhouse Media digital books) are based on proprietary technology that we’ve designed from the ground up. Characteristic features found in our Read to Me, Read it Myself, and Auto Play (first introduced in the Fall of 2009), have been adopted by other children’s digital book app publishers. As frontrunners in this new world of digital books, I feel we have the ability to set the stage for how digital books should look and feel.

2.  Would you take us through OM’s approach by walking us through your creative process with The Cat in the Hat?

Michel Kripalani: We were faced with two major design challenges in adapting The Cat in the Hat. The first question was what set of features should the app include? As it turned out, the real question wasn’t what the app should have, but rather why.

Through research, it became clear to us that Theodore Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) intent was to provide highly engaging and imaginative works that early readers would actually enjoy reading. We asked ourselves — and professional educators — if Geisel had been creating digital books, what would he have done differently?

We came up with a few key features:

• Multiple ways for children and adults to read the book: Read to Me, Read it Myself, and Auto Play

• Professional narration and sound, to keep young children highly engaged

• Word highlighting as the text is being read. To provide a direct connection between the written word and its pronunciation.

• Picture/word association. To encourage children to discover words pictured in the illustrations.  These features have formed the backbone of every omBook that Oceanhouse Media has produced.

CatInTheHat-Screen2

The second challenge with The Cat in the Hat concerned bending the laws of physics . . . well, almost!  That is, how would we take a physical book, and display everything on the 3.5” inch screen of an iPhone (remember, in early 2010, there was no iPad yet).

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I proposed breaking the text down into smaller chunks and displaying each segment as its own page.  This got our development director Greg Uhler, thinking that the same thing could be done with the artwork. We’d zoom in and pan the artwork, selecting specific parts of the scene and text to focus upon.

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As we prototyped this approach, we discovered that we could enhance the experience further through transitions of the artwork. Dramatic moments could be conveyed to the reader by a slow pan. Surprising moments are enhanced through quick zooms or reveals.

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3. Your approach is not to animate any aspect of the illustrations, but rather, to place emphasis on the words themselves. Why?

Michel Kripalani: In the case of The Cat in the Hat, we tried to imagine what it would be like to have design meetings with Ted Geisel (Dr Seuss) sitting in on the brainstorming sessions with us.

CatInTheHat-Screen6

Dr. Seuss’s books were designed to teach kids how to read. We use this as a gating factor for most all design decisions (i.e. will a child become more literate with this?). If yes, the feature often goes in. If no, it gets cut.

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This allows us to focus on what is really important. By omitting superfluous animation and games, we keep production costs down. This, in turn, allows for reasonable app prices — our children’s book apps are priced from $1.99 to $3.99 — and accessibility.

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Tomorrow:  Adding the voice-over

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More on creating apps from picture books

Our next Countdown Interview will feature Oceanhouse Media, creators of the best-selling Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, and Mercer Meyer/Little Critter apps for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android.

Fox in Socks for the iPad

Check here for interview dates. You will be able to post your own questions live. You can subscribe to this blog for notification, or visit our public Facebook page, Got Story?

From book idea to iPad app. . . .

Our next Countdown Interview will feature the iPad app, “A Present for Milo,” produced by Ruckus Media.

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“A Present for Milo” started as a picture book idea. Then it was turned into an original iPad app, harnessing full use of its unique capabilities. The inspired combination of  Milo-the-cat’s perky characterization, plus many surprises for kids to tap and discover,  and dazzling color textures culminated in a 3-book contract with Blue Apple books.

We’ll chat with author/illustrator Mike Austin, meet his agent, Rubin Pfeffer, and go behind the scenes.

Have questions? Attend the interview and post them here!