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The Gruffalo brought to life in the forest with new augmented reality app

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Gruffalo spotter app

In the first development of its kind, Forestry Commission England and Magic Light Pictures bring The Gruffalo characters to life in the forest through a new augmented reality app.

The Gruffalo Spotter has been designed for exclusive use at 26 forests across England where visitors can join the adventure through the deep dark wood.

Families can follow clues on an interactive trail and track signs of their favourite characters based on The Gruffalo, best-selling picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with fantastic activities along the way. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos alongside them.

Their photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery, from where it can be shared via social media with the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters.

Taking family forest walks to new heights, the app mixes technology with the real world, encouraging children to get exploring, firing their imaginations and enabling them to have an all-new forest experience.

The Gruffalo Spotter’s app has been developed and animated by Nexus Studios and is available for free with no in-app purchases from the App Store and Google Play.

A Gruffalo Spotters kit will be available to buy on site and includes animal facts, tips for tracking wildlife, an evidence collection bag, a magnifying glass and a pencil to make a note of your forest finds!

Bridgette Hall, Recreation Manager for Forestry Commission England commented:

“This is such an exciting development and will deliver a completely different forest experience for our visitors. The Gruffalo is a world renowned story and to be able to bring the characters to life in their natural setting is fantastic. It’s great we’ve had the opportunity to join the two worlds of technology and nature together in a sensitive way!”

Barney Goodland, Head of Digital at Magic Light Pictures said:

“Our partnership with Forestry Commission England has been an overwhelming success from the start so in this, our fourth year of activity, we wanted to do something really special. We’re always looking to further children’s enjoyment of The Gruffalo brand and this was an innovative way to incorporate new technology with a real world experience. Working with the Forestry Commission and Nexus Studios has been a real joy and it’s exciting to now be sharing The Gruffalo Spotter with families. Most importantly for us the app is completely free, which means that it’s there for everyone to enjoy.”

Claire Cook, Creative Producer at Nexus said:

“The team at Nexus are massive fans of The Gruffalo and were really excited to be able to bring the iconic characters to life in the forest through the magic of Augmented Reality. Working with Magic Light and the Forestry Commission has been a fantastic collaboration on many levels, from new technical innovation in AR and real time 3d characters, to creating an experience that works outside in all weathers and for all ages. The creative challenges have always been enjoyable and we can’t wait to see children (and their grown-ups!) playing it.”

The Gruffalo Spotters trail and The Gruffalo Spotter app will launch from February 20th and run until the end of September 2017.

The Gruffalo Spotters app is free from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon and requires downloading before your visit. A preview of the app is available here

Launch dates differ between forests, for further details please visit

Notes to Editors

  1. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at

    Forestry Commission Discovery Passes vary in price from £20-£50 for annual membership. For more information visit

    Media Contact: Emily Beaumont,, 0300 067 4107
  2. Magic Light Pictures makes imaginative entertainment for audiences, families and children worldwide.
    The company creates high quality films and products and has built the wonderful Gruffalo brand over many years. Its filmmaking includes feature films such as Oscar-nominated animation Chico & Rita, comedy thriller Wild Target and natural history documentary One Life.
    Magic Light directly manages production, licensing, global distribution and marketing. Its award winning films, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom and Stick Man have been sold to 180 broadcasters worldwide. It runs an international merchandising programme with over 40 licensees and 350 products.
    This Christmas the company premiered their latest animation for BBC One, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes to 11 million viewers, and are currently in production with another Donaldson and Scheffler title, Highway Rat to air for Christmas 2017.
    Contact: Faber&Bishopp
  3. The Gruffalo: First published in 1999 by Macmillan Children’s Books, The Gruffalo was recognised immediately as a ‘modern classic’ (The Observer). Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the book has been translated into 75 languages.  A second book, The Gruffalo’s Child, was published in 2004 and together they have sold over 17 million copies worldwide. The Gruffalo Live! theatre show, produced by Tall Stories, has been running since 2001. The award-winning film The Gruffaloproduced by Magic Light Pictures, was released in 2009 followed by The Gruffalo's Child in 2011. From books to films, merchandising and stage shows, The Gruffalo is a fast-growing classic brand.
  4. Nexus Studios: Nexus is an Academy Award nominated animation studio based in London with a worldwide reputation for creative storytelling across a range of media.

    Dedicated to the development of unique voices in filmmaking, Nexus hosts a roster of directing talent working with multi-disciplinary skills in animation, live-action and interactive media. Their work includes an Oscar nominated short, Grammy nominated and MTV Award winning music videos, Cannes Grand Prix & Gold Lions and Black D&AD pencil winning commercials.

    Nexus is at the forefront of exploring interactive storytelling.  Their extensive projects include interactive work for Google, The White House, Tate Modern and The New Yorker.  They are known for their innovative animated work in virtual reality and augmented reality.

    Nexus also produce original content and are the recipients of the BFI Vision Award for feature development and are developing a slate of original content in film, TV and VR.

    Contact: Claire Cook, Creative Producer, Nexus Studios,,, @nexuslondon