John Legend is making his foray into virtual reality with Rainbow Crow, an animated series from VR startup Baobab Studios.
In teaming up with Baobab, Legend executive produces and provides the voice of the title character in the series, which is directed by the VR studio’s co-founder (and Madagascar director) Eric Darnell. Legend's longtime partner and collaborator, Ty Stiklorius, has also boarded the creative team.
Inspired by Lenape folklore, Rainbow Crow tells the story of 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. Its themes include diversity, self-acceptance and sacrifice.
"Rainbow Crow brings storytelling and music together in a way no one else has yet in virtual reality," said Legend. "It's an incredible medium for inspiring a journey of self-discovery and finding your way in times of darkness. 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."
The 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 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 first episode of Rainbow Crow is slated to bow at the Tribeca Film Festival. A release date hasn't been set.
Baobab’s Darnell also directed VR animated shorts Invasion! and its follow-up, Asteroids!, both of which follow a pair of comedic aliens. Roth Kirschenbaum Films and Baobab are teaming up to create a theatrical feature based on the material.