Digital play at the Dutch New Library
The new library is the public library of Almere. The library serves approximately 210.000 residents, and 32% of Almere's population has an active membership. The New Library is an open space for all ages. It's a creative and inspiring place, full of innovative, fun, and educational activities. Interaction and collaboration between cultures and identities. It's more than just a place with books, it's a prominent place for reading, following a course or study.

The library redeveloped its Youth Department. The complete department has been redesigned and interactive technology has been added, like a lifesize magical book, a stop-motion photo studio, and a green-screen decor. The library helps kids, of all ages, to develop not only through books but also by bringing them in contact with culture, new media, and technology.

Magical book
The magical book is a lifesize picture book full of small animations. Hidden in the book are several letters which, once found, form small animated stories. Kids age 4 and above can easily point and wave to interact with the book. Children learn how words are made and pronounced in a playful way. For the magic book, we worked with a skeleton-tracking camera, allowing kids to just walk up and stand in front of the giant screen to interact with the book. This way we know when to bring the book to life so it feels really magical.

By means of a motion-tracking, the movements of the children in front of the book can be traced and turned into the movements of virtual hands on screen. With these virtual hands, they can pick up the letters to combine them into words. The decor of the book is fairylike, colourful, and it contains cheerful animations and sound effects. This wall consists of four screens. The production is controlled from a computer with a graphics card and four monitor outputs that form two lifesize pages .

All illustrations are done in-house. For the magical book, our team of designers and developers worked closer together than ever. By having our graphics artist animate all characters in our development software, we saved a lot of conversion steps and work for our development team.

Stop-motion studio
The Media Factory also includes a Stop-Motion Studio. Visitors of the studio can create their own stop-motion (frame by frame) animation. The studio is aimed at children from 7 to 16 years old.

In the heart of the studio is a table on which objects can be placed. Children can take a series of photos here, with which they create an animation. The photo camera has a fixed position. The objects can be placed underneath a glass plate, where visitors can insert different backgrounds for the video. A screen is included in the sidewall of the studio to operate the camera.

Once enough frames have been captured a video clip builds up. Once satisfied with the result the visitor can add a little soundtrack to the clip. This videoclip can be sent to the player’s email address through our digital souvenirs platform.

Green screen
The green screen studio is also part of the Media Factory, which consists of a number of ‘houses’ in which visitors can work on real productions. This ‘house’ consists of a green area that extends on a sidewall and the floor.

Visitors choose a background and start a recording. Like a vlogger they are overlaid on the background. A microphone records everything that is being said. The recording then can be played back and one can add a soundtrack to the clip. Once satisfied with the result, the clip is processed and can be sent to the player’s email address through our digital souvenirs platform.

Post-visit digital souvenirs
The contact with the visitors is extended after their visit. Visitors create one or more digital souvenirs (stop-motion animations or green screen videos) and leave behind an email address where they receive a personal link. With this link, they gain access to a personal responsive web page showing all their digital souvenirs. The digital souvenirs increase the online visibility of the New Library. The videos are available for download and for sharing with family and friends via different social channels.