Build an interactive sing-along, play-along musical app for Beat Bugs, a popular children’s animated TV series inspired by the music of The Beatles.
Developed the native iOS and Android apps with over a 100 interactive game elements and sounds and featuring four classic Beatles songs performed by the Beat Bugs.
The app garnered an impressive 4.5 average user rating and made it to number 5 in the Top Paid Apps in the Music category on the American App Store.
Beat Bugs is a popular children’s animated TV series available on Netflix that is inspired by the music of The Beatles. The series’ soundtrack contains 53 Beatles’ songs reimagined by some of today’s most famous artists who have lent their voices to the project.
The show reimagines these classic songs for a new generation – and teaches some life lessons along the way. Each episode of this Emmy Award-winning series springboards a classic Beatles song into a delightful backyard experience filled with music, fun and adventure. Together with their friends from the backyard, Beat Bugs explore, invent and sing.
The client wanted to take the experience to a whole new level by debuting their first official Beat Bugs interactive sing-along, play-along musical app. They were looking for a development partner who could create the app’s art and design to match their studio’s high quality and brand expectations.
Beat Bugs was our first major 3D project in the games space. It was entirely created in Unity. We conducted an initial two-month discovery phase where our engineers experimented with the Maya-Unity pipeline to create an interactive demo scene that could be shared with the client.
We followed that up with intensive R&D into the app’s key features such as robust voice recording and real-time highlighting of lyrics. Once the development work began, our team had to contend with several challenges spanning areas of art, design and engineering.
Our foremost design challenge was to convert the high poly models provided by the client into the low poly models optimized for mobile. To accomplish this, we reduced the poly count of characters just enough so as not to compromise their appearance.
Since the automated approaches failed to deliver acceptable quality, our team undertook the intensive work of manually adjusting the poly count in each object, gradually identifying the best practices for all the different shapes and sizes.
Another challenge we overcame was the unstable recording and lyrics animation implemented for the app’s karaoke feature. It took a month of rigorous testing and several failed builds before we managed to build a shippable product with both the features in robust condition. We achieved the required results by making changes directly in XCode since Unity was failing to handle this to our satisfaction.
On the art front, we had to tweak the lighting in scenes many times. We had to ensure the characters in these scenes were illuminated just enough to resemble the show’s characters without overloading the processor.
The Penny Lane scene is a good example. That scene was very light intensive and took several iterations based on the client’s feedback before we were able to finalize the look and bake the entire lighting system.
The Beat Bugs sing-along premium app was launched on both the Apple and Google Play stores. The initial launch included four classic Beatles songs performed by the Beat Bugs – All You Need Is Love, Ticket To Ride, Penny Lane, and Yellow Submarine.
The final shipped version featured 3D animated scenes and cascades of colorful animations triggered by interactions with the environment and characters, with over a 100 interactive elements and sounds used in the game.
The Beat Bugs app was featured on the Apple Store in several countries upon its release in early 2018. In the American App Store, it was featured under the New Apps We Love section; in the Canadian App Store, it was featured in the Recommended section.
Within the American store, the app went as high as number 5 among Top Paid Apps in the Music category and in the top 30 among all Kids apps within its first week of launch.
The application was subsequently launched on the Google Play Store as well. Since its launch, it has maintained an impressive average user rating of 4.5. Our team is looking to add additional levels to keep it fresh and engaging over the course of the year.
The apps received favorable media attention. The first was on an important cable news show; Google and Apple featured the second one... I give them an A-plus for project management and communication.
Cofounder, Playdate Digital