How the Gorillaz embraced mixed reality to tell the story behind their new album Humanz

The Gorillaz App

The Gorillaz have opened up fresh avenues of storytelling with their newly-launched app (simply called Gorillaz), which has been offering fans augmented reality insights and early access to trailers and songs from the band's new album, Humanz.

The app, available on App Store or Google Play, also brought music fans together for a simultaneous launch of the Humanz House Party, showcasing songs from the group's latest record.

Davor Krvavac, executive creative director at B-Reel, the agency that created the app admits the band are a "unique and fascinating creative proposition" which he believes have "pushed the frontier of technology and storytelling with every album". With the onset of mixed reality tech, the agency was able to bring the animated band into the real world through the lens of mobile devices.

It marks a new level of music marketing, building upon the knowledge that bands have always sought new ways to tell their stories. The app, Krvavac claims, is an attempt to wholeheartedly embrace a new immersive storytelling medium. Mixed reality is merely "a whole new toolkit to make album releases more personal and engaging".

Nowadays such ventures will be competing for retention against the likes of "visual albums, album apps, 360 degree music videos, and lavish vinyl box-sets," no doubt signaling a hunger for the narrative behind the lyrics - for more content.

The agency worked with comic book artist, Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the Gorillaz band and the Tank Girl comic. "We were stoked about working with such giants of pop culture and our biggest challenge was to deliver Jamie Hewlett’s iconic visual style through the mixed reality workflow. Creating each story in Hewlett’s style required a seamless combination of CG, in-device rendering and photo-realistic compositing," says Krvavac, concluding: "What made it such an interesting challenge was the combination of different technologies and techniques to deliver a seamless MR story experience.

"The Gorillaz app experience uniquely blends real world, AR, VR and 360 environments."

The app trended number one on the App Store when it launched - the trailer it linked with was third on YouTube and has 1.3m views to date. The app boasted 104,000 downloads in under 24 hours after its launch.

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John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

Fuelled by tea.

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