Photo: Play Bill
Leading virtual reality company Baobab Studios announced today they have partnered with musician, producer and activist John Legend to bring his deeply stirring storytelling sensibility to virtual reality, as executive producer, and the title character in Baobab Studios’ highly anticipated animated VR series, Rainbow Crow. 10-time Grammy award winner Legend is one of the most notable stars to enter the leading-edge virtual reality space, fully embracing it as an incredible and innovative medium for artistic expression.
Legend, together with longtime partner and collaborator, Ty Stiklorius, joins the Baobab Studios’ creative team to pioneer the brilliantly colored VR animated story of diversity, self-acceptance and sacrifice inspired by Native American folklore. The first in the series will premiere this month at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival, April 19-29.
“Rainbow Crow brings storytelling and music together in a way no one else has yet in virtual reality. It’s an incredible medium for inspiring a journey of self-discovery and finding your way in times to darkness,” explains John Legend. “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.”
“We are excited to see John Legend diving into the VR space along with Ty, and Baobab Studios to debut this important project at Tribeca Film Festival,” says Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival. “What better talents and story to highlight the festival’s theme this year of blurred screens.”
Rainbow Crow is a rich story originating from the Lenape Tribe about 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. The Rainbow Crow series will be narrated by Kiowa-Caddo tribal elder, Randy Edmonds, an 82-year-old lifelong crusader for Native American rights and founder of the National Urban Indian Council.
“All Native American tales have a tradition of deep meaning and that’s why we tell the stories, sharing down the generations,” explains Tribal Elder, Randy Edmonds, who left Oklahoma in 1954 for Southern California as part of the Indian Relocation Act. “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.”
“We all have experienced the emotions that John’s music solicits,” says Maureen Fan, CEO and co-founder, Baobab Studios. “He is an incredible innovator across all mediums, from song to film, and now to VR — both in front of and behind the camera. Rainbow Crow is a profound storytelling about perseverance, diversity and acceptance. Not only are the characters diverse, but so is our joint production team. Our shared values and ethos is another reason we’re so excited to work with John and Ty.”
Baobab Studios, a leader in the VR industry, is known for its trademark animation style of creating tightly woven narratives, adored characters and carefully designed virtual worlds, all bringing the viewer to greater empathy. The studio has won awards from Cannes to Tribeca and more, for both Invasion! and Asteroids!, the studio’s first two VR experiences crafted by a team with deep roots in tech, art and storytelling. Invasion! was nominated for an Emmy, and the characters in Invasion! will expand to the big screen as a feature film in collaboration with Roth Kirschenbaum Films. Actors Ethan Hawke and Elizabeth Banks also have voiced roles in Baobab Studio’s animations.