Tangled: Storybook Deluxe June 13th, 2013

 

For Tangled geeks and little girls who love princesses, Tangled: Deluxe Storybook is a work of art. The pictures are fabulous, and the page turning is unique. For amorous fans of Tangled, it is especially exciting to find clips from the movie on one or two pages, and to hear the storybook’s dialogue replayed with the original movie’s audio. The narration is often backed by simple sound effects and music that add to the feeling of the moment, and Pascal hangs out on a few pages, eating quotation marks, bouncing from the top of the page by his tongue and the like. Although the storybook itself is no more than a book with little interactive features, the app does contain a few coloring pages and puzzles which can be endlessly entertaining for the very young.

Nevertheless, I was disappointed to find that there was no interactivity with the narration, and that it could only be turned off from the main menu. There were only a few scattered interactions, and so I was left puzzling over the remaining pages tapping hopefully on the pictures. The recording device’s buttons were slow to react and created confusion while being used, and if I were a preschooler, I would have been completely lost when trying to navigate a few portions of the app.

Despite these shortcomings, the app is overall nicely done, and the artwork is high quality and flattering to the app. The movie clips play nicely with just a tap, and while the story was not overly simplified, it was apparent that someone at least took the time to try to explain to younger children what was going on, even though they still don’t “get” it. The scarier parts of the movie are conveniently left out, and even if young children don’t understand why Mother Gothel is so mean, they will still enjoy putting together the simple puzzles that picture her. Last but not least, there is a cute game to be played on the page where Rapunzel goes to see the floating lanterns. The game is simple; drag your finger over a row of blue lanterns and tap a second time to make them all disappear. It’s like Gemz, only simpler (and unfortunately for young children, without a tutorial.) The game, even when set to “Easy”, is still much harder than it appears for the average preschooler, and Mom might be required to help with it (and get addicted in the process and tear the iPad away from Johnny.) In the meantime, let your kid play the puzzles and read the story…and let Mary-Sue stay away from the more confusing elements of this app.

–Emma Ayars

Available on Now on iTunes App Store

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Living Stories: The Brave Little Tailor April 26th, 2013

In Living Stories’ iPad adaption of this less-familiar fairytale, the little tailor kills seven flies and sews a big 7 on his shirt to commemorate his accomplishment. This leads to a series of adventures and his eventual wedding to a princess. While the plot may be beyond a preschooler’s comprehension, the colorful pictures and sounds will offer enough delight to keep the pages turning. The little tailor’s world is “tailored” to his own occupation; in fact, the tailor’s storybook world is made of cloth, where buttons lay by the roadside and roofs are really hats and sleeping caps. While there aren’t any games, there are some interactions, including the ability to bounce the little tailor and a boar as they roll down a hill, and plenty of sounds like tinkling bells and cheering to discover. The narration is excellent, and the interactions build on the story and set out a storybook world I can imagine children often revisiting. While less known than Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, with the help of Living Stories, it could become a bedtime favorite.

–Emma Ayars

Available Now on iTunes App Store

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Homework Help August 31st, 2012

Parent's Primer
Need some assistance while helping your child do their homework? Look no further! Scholastic has just the resources you need!From Grammar to American History, follow this LINK to the best homework help available.

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Back to School Jitters August 28th, 2012

Back to School
Going from long, lazy summer days back to the rigors of a classroom can be a bumpy road for your child. It’s normal for her to experience a range of emotions about returning to school. Though each child responds to going back to school differently, you can take steps to address jitters and make the transition time smoother. Could one of these issues be causing your child’s fears?

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Education in America August 15th, 2012

Maggie Gyllenhaal
Read this great interview by Scholastic with Maggie Gyllenhaal, explaining her thoughts on American education and the reasons she chose to star in Won’t Back Down. It’s one story you won’t want to miss!

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Terrific Transitions August 14th, 2012

Terrific Transitions
Does your child struggle with even the littlest changes in their life? Here are some great tips from Scholastic on helping our child adjust to new stages of life.

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Social Skills 101 August 13th, 2012

Social Skills
Ever wonder how to teach your kids social skills? Here is a great link that will help you and your child work through those awkward moments.

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Scholastic Parents Videos August 10th, 2012


Watch Scholastic’s exclusive series Savvy Schooler: Teacher Tips for Parents and learn some inspiring ideas for helping your child succeed in school. In their Teachable Moments series, you’ll find ways to transform everyday experiences into opportunities to learn, from visits to the pediatrician and supermarket to being stuck in traffic. Plus, watch book trailers for new and noteworthy titles, and see interviews with your favorite authors.

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Summer Reading Tips from Librarians August 8th, 2012


Few people have more experience getting kids excited about reading than librarians who staff school and local libraries. Scholastic asked a few to share what summer reading programs really work and what to do to make sure your kid doesn’t take a vacation from reading. Check out their article HERE to discover what your librarian recommends!

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Storynory August 7th, 2012


Storynory is an online treasure-trove of free audio stories. Here you will find a mixture of original stories, fairytales, and specially adapted myths and histories. They also provide a sprinkling of verse.

They have published an audio story every week since November 2005. Storynory has grown and grown in popularity, and now around half a million mp3 files are downloaded every month from our servers. Their stories are listened to by families, and in schools, nurseries and hospitals the world over. Services such as iTunes make it easy to transfer their audio onto iPods and other portable players.

All their stories are beautifully read by professional actors and recorded in broadcast quality sound. And yes, they are absolutely free. If you are looking for the catch – there isn’t one.

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Anticipated Books for August August 6th, 2012


As we enter into the dog days of the summertime, find out which new books Scholastic thinks are perfect for the poolside.

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10 Things Parents Should Know August 4th, 2012

Kindergarten is an exciting and critical time in your child’s development and growth. You can play an important role in this wonderful journey. Here’s what kindergarten teachers want parents to know….

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Book Adventure August 1st, 2012

Book Adventure is a FREE reading motivation program for children in grades K-8. Children create their own book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they’ve read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes. Book Adventure was created by and is maintained by Sylvan Learning. Drop in and have some fun!

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Inspiring Curiosity July 27th, 2012

Discovery Education supports teachers in accelerating student achievement, bringing the wonder of Discovery into classrooms to ignite students’ natural curiosity. Discovery Education also offers a wide variety of free family resources that you can trust to provide high quality, relevant material for you and your children.

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Jumpstart July 26th, 2012

Looking for a great, fun way to teach your kids reading skills? Then head on over to Jumpstart! It’s a virtual world of games, for kids!

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National Geographic Kids July 21st, 2012

Most of us think of National Geographic in terms of the magazine or perhaps their videos, but did you know that they have a spectacular website for children as well? Loaded with videos, photos, and more; National Geographic Kids is definitely a stop you won’t want to miss!

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Does your brain need some fun? July 19th, 2012

If your child’s brain is in need of some fun this summer, you might want to head on over to FunBrain. Filled with exciting activities like math arcade, reading, and a playground, you can’t go wrong! Don’t forget to check out their MadLibs section or the comics!

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Between the Lions-PBS Kids June 29th, 2012

Looking for a fun way to bring reading into the living room? Try Between the Lions from PBS Kids! This interactive website has many fun areas to explore, all revolving around the world of reading. Stop on by and enjoy a good story, today!

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Starfall June 27th, 2012

Starfall.com opened in September of 2002 as a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. Their systematic phonics approach, in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice, is perfect for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, special education, homeschool, and English language development (ELD, ELL, ESL).

In May of 2009, they released the Starfall Kindergarten Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. Their method of instruction motivates children in an atmosphere of imagination and enthusiasm, provides opportunities for child-directed instruction, and supports English language learners and struggling readers learning alongside their peers.

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Loving Literacy June 13th, 2012

Literacy Connections provides a wealth of information on reading, teaching and tutoring techniques, ESL literacy, and adult literacy. They recommend resources that are useful for teachers, volunteers, and directors of literacy programs. Topics include the language experience approach, phonics, word study, word families, and the best in children’s literature. So for a great website to help promote your family’s literacy, try Literacy Connections.

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Summer Reading Begins June 9th, 2012

Looking for something neat to do with the kids this summer? Make sure to take them to their local library and sign up for the summer reading program! It is fun, educational, and they can earn prizes for all the wonderful books they read. Enjoy summer and some good books!

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Website Wednesday:Ink361 June 7th, 2012

A neat, new aspect of business that Ayars Animation has been playing with is Instagram. This little app makes it fun, creative, and easy to share pictures of whatever you are doing. Ayars Animation has been using Instagram to share what’s new on the drawing boards and to explain what goes into creating our apps. For those who would like to have a larger view of their images though, now you can take a look at Ink361. This allows you to view all the images you have uploaded to Instagram, as well as allowing you to add comments and tags to your images. As a bonus, you can also view any images loaded by people you are following and search for new people of interest. All together we have found Instagram to be loads of fun and we are enjoying the new side of business that we are able to explore!

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Website Wednesday:Bridging Apps May 31st, 2012

This week we wanted to feature a website that is helping out families with disabilities. Bridging Apps is truly a remarkable site and one worth the visit. Their site is easy to navigate, well organized, and designed for all involved in a disabled person’s life. From a therapist, to a teacher, to a parent; Bridging Apps has something for everyone.

http://bridgingapps.org/

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Remembering the Heroes May 29th, 2012

On Memorial Day, we wish to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and the freedom of others. Thank you for your service, thank you for your dedication, and thank you for the lives that we are able to live because you have so freely given yours.

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Listen to your teacher! May 18th, 2012

Teachers with Apps has been kind enough to review Pirate Puzzles. Follow the link to read what they had to say….

http://teacherswithapps.com/pirate-puzzles/

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AppySmarts Developer May 17th, 2012

 

AppySmarts has just offered a new channel for developers, here they can post updates about their company and keep the public aware of their progress. We are proud to announce that we are now a part of this exciting development. Feel free to stop by AppySmarts News Page and find out what new things are in the works at Ayars Animation.

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Video Review of Cozmo (and other apps) May 15th, 2012

 

Check out a new video review of Cozmo’s Day Off

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLK85Q8Y5MU

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Tag! You’re Reading? May 14th, 2012

We’ve seen some crazy versions of tag in our time, but a game of tag that encourages you to read? Now this we’re going to have to try!

http://familyfun.go.com/playtime/sports-athletic-games/tag-chase-games/d-e-a-r-tag-708172/

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The Developer’s View May 13th, 2012

 

Check out what Ayars Animation and other developers are saying about Cat-Nav.

http://persiancatpress.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/cat-nav-the-developers-view/

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Recent Review of Cozmo May 10th, 2012

 

Another great review of Cozmo’s Day Off has recently been posted. Take a look at the following link to read more!

 

http://teacherswithapps.com/cozmos-day-off/

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The Passing of a Legend May 8th, 2012

We offer our respects to the family and friends of Maurice Sendak, a giant in the world of children’s literacy. His work will be remembered for years to come.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/maurice-sendak-author-and-illustrator-of-works-about-childrens-survival-dies/2012/05/08/gIQA8lXMAU_story.html

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Now that you mention it… May 5th, 2012

 

Thanks, iSnoops, for the mention and the high rating on your website! We appreciated hearing what you thought!

http://www.iosnoops.com/appinfo/jack-and-the-beanstalk-children-s-for-iphone-and-ipad/364871348

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Cat-Nav by Persian Cat Press May 2nd, 2012

 

Looking for an app that will help narrow down the field of books? Try Cat-Nav by Persian Cat Press. Cat-Nav is a free download from the app store and definitely one to take a look at. With a beautiful interface and easy to navigate menus, this is not one to miss. Helping you find the best quality Graphic Novel, Picture Book or other iStory apps, Cat-Nav makes finding your next read simply wonderful.  For more information on Cat-Nav and Persian Cat Press, follow the link below or check them out at the iTunes store.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YqgBD7cUI8&feature=player_embedded

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Ahoy! ‘Ya might want to be taking a look at this recent post about Pirate Puzzles April 28th, 2012

Take a look at the newest review of Pirate Puzzles. Thanks, Trevor. It was great hearing from you!

 

 http://trevorcairney.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/14-great-educational-apps-for-children.html

 

 

 

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Work in Progress April 24th, 2012

“Pencils of some critters used for page 3 of Snow White. – Frank G.”

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The Three S’s April 12th, 2012

[S]tory, [S]imple, and [S]ensational. Those are the basic ingredients of our apps. They’re yummy and tasty and dogonnit – they’re good fer ya!

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The Tree I See April 9th, 2012

We’ve recently completed artwork for Robert J. Mascarelli’s interactive storybook, “The Tree I See”, so now it’s in the hands of the programmers for implementation. Here is a background for the final page of the book.

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Website Wednesday: iPhone Mom April 4th, 2012

It always helps to get great advice from another parent and that is just what you will get when visiting The iPhone Mom. With helpful age categories, Tips and Tricks, and Mom’s Weekly Special, you can’t go wrong. So, “…for moms or anyone else looking to tap into the practical, personal or parenting potential of their iDevice…”, The iPhone Mom is one website you will want to check out.

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Website Wednesday: Padded March 29th, 2012

Padded is another awesome website that is helping us out by doing comprehensive reviews in the world of children’s ebooks. So, from the good to the bad, check out Padded for the latest reviews on possible kid reads.

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Find it Friday March 24th, 2012

Are you ready for your weekend challenge? Let’s see who can name the app this image comes from and the page it is on. Good luck!

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A Bulletin and a Bargain March 21st, 2012

 

In case you haven’t heard the exciting news, iPad 3 has just been released and is hot off the assembly line. To help you get started on your app collection, Jack and the Beanstalk is now going for an awesome bargain… 99¢!! So, whether you are upgrading or buying for the first time, definitely make sure to check out the newest iPad to hit the market and while you’re there, take advantage of Ayars Animation’s great offer and pick up Jack today!

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Something wicked this way comes… March 20th, 2012

Here is Amy Clarke in the recording studio, lending her talented voice for the wicked queen/stepmother of Snow White. Amy turned in a wonderful performance, as did all our voice-actors.

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Find it Friday March 16th, 2012

Up for a challenge? Name the app and the page this image is taken from. Best of luck!

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Wonderful Website: iPad App Reviews by Gill Robins March 16th, 2012

“The apps reviewed here are only for iPad and they represent the very best of story and educational apps for children. Each app is carefully and thoroughly appraised, then rated for its educational and fun value, with a maximum rating of 5 in each category.”-Gill Robins

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Recording Sessions March 13th, 2012

 

Some of you may recognize Craig from our first interactive children’s book app, “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Here he is in the studio, again lending us his deep vocals for Snow White. As always, Craig delivers a stellar performance!

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Website Wednesday: Digital Storytime March 7th, 2012

 

Not sure what book to read Johnny before bed? This massive directory of iPad storybooks is sure to give you some great ideas! With helpful, in-depth reviews, Digital Storytime is doing their part to keep parents up to date on the newest and best in digital children’s books.

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The Man Behind the Music March 6th, 2012

Besides doing a fabulous job composing our scores and songs, Julian Cisneros is the mastermind behind the controls in the sound recording studio. Here he is providing feedback to a voice actress who is recording a character voice for our current project, Snow Whit

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Find it Friday…. March 2nd, 2012

Nothing starts off the weekend like a relaxing game of I Spy. Think you can do it? Name the app and  the page this image is found on. Good luck!

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Website Wednesday: Common Sense Media March 1st, 2012

Looking for an all-in-one media site? Well, look no more. Common Sense Media has created a wonderful website that not only has what’s new on your mobile device, but what’s hot (or not) in all areas of the media world. When looking up a review, CSM has created a section titled “What Parents Need to Know”;  giving the reader an opportunity to see how each rates on categories such as educational values or positive messages. One additional feature you might enjoy: “What to Talk About”. For most reviews, Common Sense Media has gone out of their way to think of topics that will help open the doors of communication between you and your child. So, for a refreshing look at the wide world of media, think Common Sense Media.

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In the Studio February 27th, 2012

We’ve started character voice recordings, with the story’s main character leading the way. Here’s Meagan Owens in the recording studio yesterday, providing the voice of Snow White. Meagan gave a superb, professional performance, and one which we’re sure you’ll all enjoy.

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Website Wednesday: App Spy February 23rd, 2012

Looking for a creative way to search for apps? Then App Spy is the site for you. Besides the helpful reviews, App Spy has also created categories for the apps, such as “challenge” or “addictive”. This allows the reader to review only apps that meet those category requirements, saving you time looking for them  yourself. Our favorite thing about App Spy? All pertinent info is available at first glance. Clearly (and colorfully) labeled is a score for the app, the pros and cons of the app, as well as a “verdict” (short synopsis of their longer review). For those wanting the whole story, a full review is listed below. Another neat addition is the video reviews which allows readers to watch a portion of the game being played. So when you are ready to hunt down some new apps, take a look at App Spy, they just might have what you are looking for.

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Testing, testing… February 21st, 2012

Snow White Test ShotA couple of our testers hard at work.

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Find it Friday February 17th, 2012

Okay, name that tune… I mean app. (Don’t forget the page number!)

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Website Wednesday-Apps4Kids February 16th, 2012

While most of us purchase our devices intending to use them for our own purposes, inevitably our children end up with them in their hands. It is nice to know, as careful parents, that there are websites we can trust to review the brightest and the best apps, letting us know what to buy. Apps4Kids is definitely a place to visit. Their homepage is cleverly designed and easy to navigate. They provide a multitude of menus to help you find exactly what you are looking for very quickly. Apps4Kids has reviews on Android as well as iOS devices, which is further helpful to their readers.  So, whether  you are looking for games, book apps, or something to help you study; Apps4Kids is definitely worth a look.

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Tools of the Trade February 13th, 2012

One of the neat aspects of being in the media industry are the wonderful tools used to be creative. Pictured here is one of the styluses that our illustrator uses. Oh, the amazing things that have been done with this little pen!

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Find it Friday February 10th, 2012

Second verse, same as the first. A little bit louder and a little bit worse…. Name the app that this image is found on and the page. Good luck!

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Website Wednesday: AppaSnap February 8th, 2012

There are a great many app review websites around, but few are quite as exhaustive as this one. From their opening page to the latest news, AppaSnap has created a site that is easy to navigate and thorough in their reviews.  When reviewing a particular app, AppaSnap has created subcategories, such as Playability and Graphics. The review then gives a score out of 10, allowing you to better see how well the app performs. On top of this rating,  AppaSnap also allows you to see how many others have viewed this review, even as recently as the last 14 days. For further help, at the bottom of each review a listing of the top apps, medal winning apps, similar scoring apps, and lower scoring apps in that category are also listed.  Not limited to reviews alone, AppaSnap also has the latest news in the app world, keeping their readers up on the times. So, for a thorough and enjoyable app review, make sure you head over to AppaSnap. They are definitely one of the places to be.

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Working Hard…. February 8th, 2012

Here is our illustrator, working on one of our current projects. Make sure to stay tuned to hear about all our latest developments. 

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Newest Cozmo Review! February 4th, 2012

We are very excited to share with you the newest review of Cozmo’s Day Off!

http://www.chronicconsumer.com/2012/02/03/cozmos-day-off-interactive-storybook-for-ipad/

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Find it Friday February 3rd, 2012

We thought we would try something a little different and fun. On Fridays we are going to post a screenshot from one of our apps and see if you can identify it. Kind of like I Spy! So here we go…. We’ll start off the first week with an easy one! Can you tell us which app and which page this image is from? (p.s. The answer will be posted on Monday, if not discovered before then.)

 

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Website Wednesday:App Advice February 1st, 2012

Just one of the many great app sites out there, App Advice is definitely not one to miss. Their interface is very easy to navigate and pleasant to the eyes. Everything is clearly labeled and organized, a plus for those new to any site. Their reviews are very detailed and helpful, with great screen shots from each app. Besides having app reviews, they also have App Lists, App Guides, and App Charts. So, if you are looking for a site that will help you narrow down your app choices, this is assuredly one to visit.

http://appadvice.com/appnn

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Progress! January 31st, 2012

Page two of Snow White has just finished being illustrated and is now off to the programer’s desk for animation and implementation.

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The Monster at the End of This Book – Sesame Street October 11th, 2011

Please don’t finish this review…there’s a monster at the end of this page!

The Monster at the End of this Book stars Grover; a furry, and well-known monster *ahem*. In the book Grover begs children not to turn the page, because there is a monster at the end of the book! Cute cartoon-style, read-along speech bubbles catch the eye, while we enjoy constantly thwarting Grover’s attempts to keep us from turning the page. Cute pictures, nice interactive pages, and an unanticipated and delightful ending. Enjoyable.

-Review by Emma Ayars

Dad’s Note…
Great review Emma, but I’ve got to add one thing. This app is different than any other book app on the market (that I’ve found). Grover thoroughly engages his audience. Children (and adults) believe they interacting with a live character and it’s absolutely fun. Grover is so convincing that one review stated that their child was actually afraid to turn the pages of the book because, of course, Grover to told him not to do so! Great job on this terrific app.

Check it out!

You can also enjoy the follow-up to story…

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The Magic School Bus: Oceans August 26th, 2011

Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus take a tour of the ocean in this entertaining app. Occasional interactions with informative videos and facts, this is a very educational app, and one that would do well in a schoolroom. The games are fun, the schoolchildren always add in funny little comments, and while the app is geared towards elementary age children, the videos and pictures of sea creatures are fascinating for all ages. One thing I didn’t understand was the “touch&tilt on every page” they proudly proclaimed at the beginning of the book. While it is true that there is something to touch on every page, I failed to find any instance in which I could tilt the iPad and have some effect on the page. Although this was a disappointment, the rest of the app was fairly entertaining and extremely interesting.

-Review by Emma Ayars

The Magic School Bus: Oceans

 

 

 

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eBook Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore August 1st, 2011

Hello! My name is Frank Ayars and if you have read our About page you will know that this is a family based business. My daughter Emma (14) is a voracious reader and writer. In fact, it is often that we have to pull her away in order to join the ‘real’ world. So, I thought it would be wonderful fit for her to take over this blog. The idea is like this. Every week or so, we will pick one of the top applications in the book section of the iTunes store. Emma will review that application and provide her two cents right here.

Last week, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was the top application in the books category and it will be Emma’s first review. Here it is!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an interactive storybook for the iPad, is a delightful app. The beautiful animation and one or two interactions on each page keep the young reader entertained, while the poignant storyline appeals to young and old alike. Readers who enjoy UP will find the same sweet and satisfying story in Morris Lessmore.

–Review by Emma Ayars

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iOS Performance Best Practices October 8th, 2010

We are coming down the home stretch for completing ‘Cozmo’s Day Off’. There are several features that were to be deferred for our next application that we just couldn’t help put into this application – so there are A LOT of cool features! But that also means that we significantly delayed our release date. But, this blog entry isn’t about that! It’s about iOS Performance Best Practices. Why that? Well, in the heat of development a lot of information can get lost – especially as the teams begin to expand.  Unless the knowledge is written down, placed in a location that is accessible, and indexed – that information will have only served an immediate need and not the long term needs of your organization. That is expensive and can cost dearly in the quality of the work that is produced. So, even though we are above our heads in production, we are taking steps to retain our knowledge. One step we have taken is to draft an ‘iOS Performance Best Practice’ document. Although the document is light at the moment, it contains information that covers hundreds of hours of development time. The document will grow and will be updated periodically. We believe that much of this information will be useful to others outside of our organization and can be accessed using the following link.

Ayars Animation iOS Performance Best Practices

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Sneak Peak: Cozmo’s Day Off June 17th, 2010

Here’s a short video that gives a behind the scenes look at one of the interactivities we are incorporating into our next project, ‘Cozmo’s Day Off’

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Chipmunk May 27th, 2010

I’ve been playing with Chipmunk today. Huh? Yep, Chipmunk. No, not the furry cute little critter. Chipmunk the 2D dynamics engine. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and the rest of the software engineering community, but when you put ‘engine’ after the something it just sounds killer. Well, this is a  pretty killer engine. I’ll warn you in advance that this blog entry is technical, but at least stick around long enough to watch the cool video below.

I can’t help but go to the technical side on this one. I saw that the ‘Alice for the iPad’ used the Chipmunk 2D dynamics engine and I’ve been wanting to see what it’s all about. I’m not fond of using third party code or libraries for a number of reasons (namely legal and support), but I thought I’d just check this one out and I really liked it. Whether or not it makes it into our production code, I definitely had a good time playing around with it. In the video below, I took a rough image of upcoming character Cozmo and put him into a Chipmunk sample. Check it out…

Isn’t that incredible! Well, for me it is. Sadly, this is the type of thing that gets me up early and gets me to bed late. I just love it!

Now for the technical part. This is for those that were googling something like ‘Chipmunk sprite’ or ‘Chipmunk UIImageView’. So, for those that would like to use Chipmunk with sprites, but aren’t quite prepared for an OpenGL driven project, you may have landed at the right spot. What I’m about to demonstrate is the ability to use the ultra simple and well performing Chipmunk API (Good job guys at Howling Moon and Erin Catto) and the UIImageView class to create very dynamic sprites! Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the brightest light in the room, especially when it comes to mathematics. So, if you see something here that could use some improvement – first, your probably right, second, show me the way – I’d love that!

Below, I have posted all of the germane code. For simplicity I placed everything into the view controller. I have not included the self generated delegate code or anything like that. This code is a modification of the tumble demo that comes with the Chipmunk download. What I want to point out right now is few lines of code that took me a bit of time, but they were very effective for using the UIView and its derivatives (UIImageView for instance) as sprites in conjunction with the Chipmunk API.

The gist of the code is to move from the Cocoa coordinate system (origin at top left corner of View and and positive y-axis moving toward bottom) to the Chipmunk coordinate system (origin at center of parent view and negative y-axis moving toward bottom). This is accomplished by using four transformations (3 translations and 1 rotation). The code is commented in line with a brief explanation of each transformation.

Code:
-(void)renderViewInSpace:(UIView*)view atPos:(cpVect)atPos withRotAngleInRadians:(cpFloat)withRotAngleInRadians
{
     view.transform = CGAffineTransformIdentity;
     //translate to the center of the main view. this is the first step to simulate the chipmunk coordinate system
     view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, self.view.bounds.size.width/2.0, self.view.bounds.size.height/2.0);
     //tanslate to position, inversing the y-coordinate
     view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, atPos.x, -atPos.y);
     //translate the y position so that we render at top-left and not center
     view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, -view.bounds.size.width/2, -view.bounds.size.height/2);
     //rotate, but since we inversed the y-axis, inverse the rotation
     view.transform = CGAffineTransformRotate(view.transform, -withRotAngleInRadians);
}

If you actually do use the code, you will need to download the Objective-Chipmunk library and follow their instructions for building the project. Note that I went the route of using the static library and including header files. It worked perfectly.

So, if you came here by googling and found what you were looking for – awesome! And may your endeavor succeed magnanimously :)

Here’s the view controller code…

BounceViewController.h:
#import "ObjectiveChipmunk.h"

#define GRABABLE_MASK_BIT (1<<31)
#define NOT_GRABABLE_MASK (~GRABABLE_MASK_BIT)

@interface BounceViewController : UIViewController
{
    NSMutableArray *shapes;
    UIView *boxView;

    ChipmunkSpace *space;
    ChipmunkBody *box;
    double timeStep;
}

-(void)setupSpace;
-(void)update;
-(void)renderViewInSpace:(UIView*)view atPos:(cpVect)atPos withRotAngleInRadians:(cpFloat)withRotAngleInRadians;

@end
BounceViewController.m:
#import "BounceViewController.h"

@implementation BounceViewController

- (void)dealloc
{
    [box release];
    [space release];
    [shapes release];
    [boxView release];

    [super dealloc];
}

- (void)viewDidLoad
{
    cpInitChipmunk();

    [self setupSpace];
    [NSTimer scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval:1.0/60.0 target:self selector:@selector(update) userInfo:nil repeats:YES];

    [super viewDidLoad];
}

-(void)update
{
    cpBodyUpdatePosition(box.body, timeStep);
    [space step:timeStep];

    [self renderViewInSpace:boxView atPos:box.pos withRotAngleInRadians:box.angle];

    for(int i=0; i<shapes.count; i++)
    {
        ChipmunkSegmentShape *shape = [shapes objectAtIndex:i];
        UIImageView* imageView = (UIImageView*)shape.data;
        [self renderViewInSpace:imageView atPos:shape.body.pos withRotAngleInRadians:shape.body.angle];
    }
}

-(void)renderViewInSpace:(UIView*)view atPos:(cpVect)atPos withRotAngleInRadians:(cpFloat)withRotAngleInRadians
{
    view.transform = CGAffineTransformIdentity;
    //translate to the center of the main view. this is the first step to simulate the chipmunk coordinate system
    view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, self.view.bounds.size.width/2.0, self.view.bounds.size.height/2.0);
    //tanslate to position, inversing the y-coordinate
    view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, atPos.x, -atPos.y);
    //translate the y position so that we render at top-left and not center
    view.transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(view.transform, -view.bounds.size.width/2, -view.bounds.size.height/2);
    //rotate, but since we inversed the y-axis, inverse the rotation
    view.transform = CGAffineTransformRotate(view.transform, -withRotAngleInRadians);
}

-(void)setupSpace
{
    timeStep = 1.0/60.0;

    space = [[ChipmunkSpace alloc] init];
    space.gravity = cpv(0.0, -600.0);

    ChipmunkBody *body;
    ChipmunkShape *shape;

    box = [[ChipmunkBody alloc] initStaticBody];
    box.angVel = 0.4;

    boxView = [[UIView alloc] init];

    // Set up the static box.
    cpFloat boxWidth = 600.0;
    cpFloat boxHeight = 600.0;

    cpVect a = cpv(-boxWidth/2, -boxHeight/2);
    cpVect b = cpv(-boxWidth/2,  boxHeight/2);
    cpVect c = cpv( boxWidth/2,  boxHeight/2);
    cpVect d = cpv( boxWidth/2, -boxHeight/2);

    shape = [space add:[ChipmunkSegmentShape segmentWithBody:box from:a to:b radius:0.0]];
    shape.elasticity = 1.0; shape.friction = 1.0;
    shape.layers = NOT_GRABABLE_MASK;

    shape = [space add:[ChipmunkSegmentShape segmentWithBody:box from:b to:c radius:0.0]];
    shape.elasticity = 1.0; shape.friction = 1.0;
    shape.layers = NOT_GRABABLE_MASK;

    shape = [space add:[ChipmunkSegmentShape segmentWithBody:box from:c to:d radius:0.0]];
    shape.elasticity = 1.0; shape.friction = 1.0;
    shape.layers = NOT_GRABABLE_MASK;

    shape = [space add:[ChipmunkSegmentShape segmentWithBody:box from:d to:a radius:0.0]];
    shape.elasticity = 1.0; shape.friction = 1.0;
    shape.layers = NOT_GRABABLE_MASK;

    boxView.frame = CGRectMake(0, 0, boxWidth, boxHeight);

    boxView.backgroundColor = [UIColor blueColor];
    [self.view addSubview:boxView];

    if(shapes == NULL)
    {
        shapes = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
    }

    // Add the bricks.
    for(int i=0; i<3; i++)
    {
        for(int j=0; j<7; j++)
        {
            cpFloat width = 200.0/4;
            cpFloat height = 340.0/4;

            body = [space add:[ChipmunkBody bodyWithMass:1.0 andMoment:cpMomentForBox(1.0, width, height)]];
            body.pos = cpv( (boxWidth/2)-(i*width)-(width/2), (boxHeight/2)-(j*height)-(height/2));
            shape = [space add:[ChipmunkPolyShape boxWithBody:body width:width height:height]];
            shape.elasticity = 0.0; shape.friction = 1.0;

            UIImageView *imageView = [[UIImageView alloc] initWithImage:[UIImage imageNamed:@"Cozmo.png"]];
            imageView.contentMode = UIViewContentModeScaleAspectFill;
            imageView.clipsToBounds = TRUE;
            imageView.frame = CGRectMake(0, 0, width, height);
            [self.view addSubview:imageView];
            shape.data = imageView;
            [shapes addObject:shape];
        }
    }
}

// Override to allow orientations other than the default portrait orientation.
- (BOOL)shouldAutorotateToInterfaceOrientation:(UIInterfaceOrientation)interfaceOrientation
{
    return YES;
}

- (void)didReceiveMemoryWarning
{
    // Releases the view if it doesn't have a superview.
    [super didReceiveMemoryWarning];

    // Release any cached data, images, etc that aren't in use.
}

- (void)viewDidUnload
{
    // Release any retained subviews of the main view.
    // e.g. self.myOutlet = nil;
}

@end

References

Objective Chipmunk
Download Chipmunk
Box2D by Erin Catto

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New Game, New Project May 24th, 2010

I thought I’d post a couple of art assets that are going into Jack and the Beanstalk. This game will be available as a free update for those that have purchased the application. The idea behind the game is to catch dropping ‘golden’ eggs in a bucket. You move the bucket by motioning the device. We are also considering an option to move the basket with your finger so that younger users can play with less difficulty.

There are several non-production placeholders in the following image, such as the ‘close’ button and the scoreboard backdrops.

The blue cross with halo is a ‘health’ token. When you move the bucket over this token, you will gain back a life. You have five lives (or five eggs that can miss the bucket) before the game ends. When a falling egg is missed and hits the ground, an angel chick flies from the egg to the ‘misses’ scoreboard. When an egg is caught by the basket a point is added to the ‘points’ scoreboard. There is also a 10 point token that appears randomly, but you must risk losing a life in order to get the token.

We think this will be a fun little game. It has been very fun putting it together. My kids, uh-hem, my testers seem to enjoy it!

As the title of this blog suggests we are also working on our next project. We have established the text of the story and flow of the application. Our next step is to storyboard each element. This application will be more character driven, Cozmo the Green Little Dude, and contains more games, activities, and animations.

We are also conceptualizing a Christmas story based on this cute little guy.

And then, something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time…but I can’t tell you what it is right now!!! Don’t you hate when somebody does that. But, we need to get through these projects first. It is big and we have to grow as a company before we can start tackling these types of projects. I’ll give you a hint though. When someone purchases this particular storybook (if that’s what you want to call it), they will truly become part of the story.

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Lick ‘em with Product May 17th, 2010

“You have to Lick ‘em with Product.” That is what Walt Disney used to say and has become our mantra here at Ayars Animation. I have read numerous Disney biographies and I can say with full confidence that Disney cared for money only in as much as it provided the funds to take care of his family and to build the next project. Walt did not look at a project from a business angle as a way to increase his wealth. It was all about satisfying his creative drive. He believed that if he put his creative best into a project, then it would turn out excellent and people would pay money to be entertained by it. So the saying ‘Lick ‘em with Product’ came to mean, ‘Let’s not worry about how to sell this thing, let’s just make a quality product that we can all be proud of and it will sell itself.’ Believe it or not, many of Walt’s projects were scoffed at originally. One of the the most obvious examples is ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Today we look at that feature as both a masterpiece and a longstanding financial windfall for the Disney company. But when he started on Snow White it was referred by many as Disney’s Folly. The idea that an audience would sit through a feature length animation was considered silly. But Walt had a vision and he poured all his creative juices into that vision and, as we all know, it has succeeded well beyond his own time. He ‘Licked us with Product’ time and time again. We want to do the same. We don’t want to spend our time figuring our clever tricks to sell our product. We want to spend all of our time building quality products that can stand on their own two feet and can sell themselves. This is easier said than done, but considering our budget and resources we believe that we are off to a good start with our first product ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. So, on to our next project and let’s ‘lick ‘em with product’!

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Marketing an iPad Application May 6th, 2010

You may have read my previous blog ‘Up, Up, and Disapproved.’ That blog title is referring to the YouTube / AdWords promotional we launched. Originally, I wasn’t sure what caused the promotion to be disapproved. My best guess, based on reading the promotional guidelines, was that we were disapproved based on the fact that we used iPod / iPhone / and iPad in our promotional title. According to the AdWords guidelines these are not allowed since they are trademarked. So, we removed the trademarked words and the promotion was approved. Within only a few days of promoting the YouTube video, the number of clicks on the video were significant. However, there seems to be no immediate sales improvement for either the iPhone version or the iPad version. This may be in line with one articles assertion that 80% of all applications are purchased due to their visibility within the app store. Meaning your app can be seen quickly when a user browses the app store. So far, that assertion seems to be holding up. Based on my limited experience, I would estimate that a significant portion of the other 20% percent of purchases derives from influential bloggers / websites / magazines / etc posting favorable reviews and drawing attention to particular applications. If I’m correct, then the order of events for a successful marketing campaign would go something like this. Build a good app that can be reviewed favorably, find the influencers and have them broadcast the quality of your app to their masses, and watch your app move up in rank in the app store. From there it becomes self feeding. To be successful in the long term this process must be iterative. Meaning quality updates are made to the app, the influencers are reengaged, and the process continues. Well, that is my thinking right now and I am certainly a newbie at all this. I should also mention that we have also tried in-app advertising with no perceivable success. One thing that we have not tried, that has been noted by many others, is to create a free app version that drives sales to your paid version – a sort of trial version. If we try that strategy, I will let you know how that goes. For now, we will get our Universal version of this app out so that iPhone and iPad users can rely one version for both devices and then we will think more about our next steps.

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Universal Application May 5th, 2010

Universal Application. This refers to the idea that all apps really lead to one grand, universal application. Huh? OK. That was a joke. I hear silence, now birds chirping. But, really, Universal Application refers to an Apple app store application that can run fully featured on the iPad device as well as the iPod Touch and iPhone devices. Originally, we opted not to create a universal application due to the fact that we would double the content in one application. However, after much consideration, we are now converting Jack and the Beanstalk to a universal application. This provides a great benefit to customers as well as our company. For our customers, this allows them to purchase one app that can be used on both device types. For us, it allows us to maintain one code source base and that helps us to better manage our code. So, we have been working on this all week long. Our code changes have been made and we will test the remainder of the week. Barring any major bugs, we will submit this to Apple early next week.

Also note we put in a little teaser animation in this latest update. It promotes our upcoming project.

teaser

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Biola Media Conference Follow-up May 3rd, 2010

So I went to Biola Media Conference (BMC) with Frank Grau this last Saturday. It was an incredible day. I loved it! Here are some of the highlights from my point of view:

Dick Cook’s story about how Johnny Depp came to be Captain Jack Sparrow. Dick Cook was an all-around good speaker. He has an incredibly warm and inviting demeanor. I guess it’s no wonder why he led Walt Disney Studios as chairman for over 38 years! Great Guy.

It was great hearing Micheal Flatherty, president of Walden Media. He came across as very genuine and down to earth and one with a great mission at heart. I will probably get some of this wrong, but the point should not be diminished. He was asked whether the company had experienced failures. He said ‘yes’, and followed that by saying that it has only been when the company has taken their eyes off of their core mission: talking to pastors, librarians, and educators to gather which materials they believe are worthy investments for entertainment production. I know I just mangled Micheal’s quote, but I think you get the point. I think that is a tremendous mission. The Lion the With and the Wardrobe, Bridge to Terabithia, Amazing Grace, Nim’s Island, and Charlotte’s Web are a few of their titles that I have seen and have really enjoyed. I took a glance over at Walden Media and noticed several other titles that I’m going to watch with my kids. The highest on the list being ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ – a wonderful story from my childhood.

Adam Watt dissected an email describing the requirements for a musical piece he was to compose. Then, Adam played the final production piece. It was great!

We went to a marketing seminar that gave a lot of great tactical advice. One nugget discussed how to search tweeter for influencers in your target area and working with them.

Finally, we had the incredible opportunity of getting a sneak peak at ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’. It was great and I can’t wait until Christmas to see it. This is my favorite book in the Narnia series and there are two things I am really hoping to see come alive in this film. One, the transformation of Eustace. What CS Lewis does with imagery and allegory to transform Eustace is master craftsmanship at its finest and I can only hope that the movie captures, visually, what CS Lewis penned. Second, the book details the Dawn Treader sailing through the Last Sea. The imagery in those pages has never been matched by anything I have ever seen, heard, or read.

There were many other highlights through the day, but I think that gives you a good taste of the event. I am looking forward to attending again next year. Good job BMC team!

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YouTube Video Promotion…Up, Up, and Disapproved! April 29th, 2010

So, we created a nifty YouTube video sure to lift our sales 1000% (well, maybe a little less than that). After that, I submitted the video to Google AdWords for promotion. The ad went into ‘Pending Review’ for a couple of days. Finally, I received an email stating that the ad was disapproved due to trademark issues. In the disapproval email it stated, we ‘may’ get another email providing more details. However, that email has yet to come. So, I did a little research and found that it is against AdWord policy to use iPod, iPhone, or iPad in the title of your ad. Those are trademarks of Apple. The title of our ad was ‘Jack and the Beanstalk Children’s Storybook for iPhone / iPod Touch/ iPad’. So, I’ve removed that portion of the title and have resubmitted the ad. Hopefully that was the problem…I’m very curious to see the impact of the promotion.

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Biola BMC April 28th, 2010

This Saturday, May 1st, Frank Grau and I will be attending Biola Media Conference. The conference is intended to help Christians working in the media industry. This will be a great chance to recharge after the release cycle, learn something new, and connect with others in the industry. I’m really excited. And I’m very excited to get a sneak peak at the latest installment of the CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series (my favorite book series of all time!), The Dawn Treader. Next to that I’m very excited to hear the speakers. Two that I am really looking forward to are Richard (Dick) Cook, former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Adam Watts, Songwriter/Composer of High School Musical and Prince Caspian!

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Promotional Video April 27th, 2010

One thing that we have been missing is a good promotional video. There is a sea of iPhone and iPad apps out there and it is not enough to create a great app. It must be promoted. One of the greatest ways to promote your app is to create a video that demonstrates the key features of the app and that’s exactly what we did. Check out the video below.

You may have noticed that we used an iPod Touch rather than the iPad. We will create a similar video with an iPad. However, the market for the iPhone is still a much larger market than the iPad, so we went with this first. It is my best guess that the iPad will, in about a year or so, become our biggest market. On a side note, I went to purchase a second iPad and they were sold out at several locations! I had to get on Apple’s waiting list and they could only hold it for 24 hours once it came in. I waited a week and then my iPad arrived! So, there is a very large demand for the device. In fact, they had to delay the international release by a month due to unexpected US demand.

http://www.edge-online.com/news/apple-delays-ipad%E2%80%99s-international-release

http://labs.chitika.com/ipad/

Go iPad!

Here is today’s top 20 list for iPad books. We are currently #2. Not a bad spot!
The Elements: A Visual Exploration
Jack and the Beanstalk Children’s Interactive Storybook
Alice for the iPad
How to Train Your Dragon – Kids Book HD
The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss
iReading HD – Ruben’s Rainbow
Dr. Seuss’s ABC
The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
Audiobooks (iPad Edition)
Toy Story 2 Read-Along

I also saw the Disney’s The Princess and the Frog Read-Along has hit the market, so that should be making its way up soon. I will download and review soon.

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Jack and the Beanstalk Credits April 21st, 2010

I want to thank all of the talent that helped make Jack and the Beanstalk come to life. As an acknowledgment of all their good work, here they are!

Illustration
Frank Grau Jr.

Narration
Daryl McLeod (daryl@crossroadschurch.com)

Software Development
Frank Ayars
Kevin E. Rafferty II


Quality Assurance

Trinity Grau
Noel Grau
Angelina Grau
Joseph Grau
Emma Ayars
Wyatt Ayars
Colson Ayars
Annie Ayars
Amelia Ayars

Voice Talents
Craig Northcutt (craignorthcutt@gmail.com), The Giant and the Stranger
Dean White (AnythingVO Studios, dean@anythingvo.com), Jack
Susan Haight (susanhaight@sbcglobal.net), Jack’s Mother and the Harp
Carolyn McLeod Atkinson (catkinson4@ec.rr.com), The Giant Lady, The Hen, and Buttercup
Joel Fairley (joel.fairley@crossroadschurch.com), The Rooster

Music
Natalya Roa (natalyar@crossroadschurch.com)
Jon Knox (jonknoxville@gmail.com)
Jennifer Wiles
Matt Dunn
Carrie Mummert
Adelyn Roekle
Zack Morris
Andrew Held
Wyatt Mitchison
Cameron Barnett
Dawson Mummert
Ava Malloy
Gracie Barnett
Halle Mummert
Emma Ayars
Arianna Knox
Isabella Knox
Sophia Knox
InsideOut Recording Studio (www.insideoutrecording.com)

Marketing
Plain Joe Studios (www.plainjoe.net)
Peter McGowan
Suzanne Beaudoin
Noah Gonzales
Blake Ryan
Joe Sibal
Julie McDougall

Special Thanks
Carrie Ayars
Cristina Grau
Stephanie Walker
Dwayne Vance
Martin Perez

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#1 Book for the iPad April 20th, 2010

Believe it or not we shot up to the #1 spot for all of iPad books! We have been at that spot for a couple of days now and we just can’t believe it.

Click here to jump to Jack and the Beanstalk iPad Version

Not only did we make it to the #1 position for iPad books, but we also released the Jack and the Beanstalk application for the iPhone and iPod touch devices.

Click here to jump to Jack and the Beanstalk iPhone / iPod Touch Version

We are very proud and humbled by our ranking and it is the result of a lot of work by a lot of talented people. Tomorrow I am going post the credits section of our app. This was a team effort and we want to give thanks to those who helped make this happen.

First and foremost, we want to thank God for giving us this opportunity. His hand has been helping us all the way through this project and we humbly thank Him. We will continue to inquire of Him before, during, and after each project. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalms 127:1). God is certainly good!

A very BIG thanks to Crossroads Christian Church who has provided so much support and prayer for this project. I love my Church!

Well, we are off to an excellent start! I’m excited about the future and about the amazing creative products we are getting the opportunity to produce.

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Welcome April 7th, 2010

Welcome to our blog! This is our first post and we are very excited about to tell you all about the things that are happening here at Ayars Animation. We will use this blog to give you an inside look at how we create all of the fun stuff and to give you an opportunity to be a part of this amazing creative process. We hope that you will join us for the ride! We think it will be a good one!

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