Apple turns to high-resolution photography, not CGI, for Apple Watch 'Motion' faces
The animated flowers, butterflies, and jellyfish seen on the face of Apple's new smartwatch were not created with computer graphics packages, according to a new report, but were instead photographed in an intensive process that sometimes required more than a week to capture a single image.
"We shot all this stuff," Apple human interface chief Alan Dye told Wired, "the butterflies and the jellyfish and the flowers for the motion face, it's all in-camera. And so the flowers were shot blooming over time. I think the longest one took us 285 hours, and over 24,000 shots."
Apple photographed dozens of flowers, and multiple species of butterflies and jellyfish. Apple Watch owners who choose the 'Motion' face will be greeted with a new organism each time they raise their wrist — Â butterflies flapping their wings, jellyfish swimming, and flowers blooming.
The entire process was completed inside Apple's design studio. The group temporarily added an aquarium to the space, capturing 4,096-pixel-by-2,304-pixel images of jellyfish at 300 frames per second on Vision Research's Phantom high-speed cameras.
According to Dye, "when you look at the Motion face of the jellyfish, no reasonable person can see that level of detail. And yet to us it's really important to get those details right."
Dye also illustrated the team's detail-oriented approach with the Mickey Mouse face, saying that if multiple Watches are in the same room, Mickey will tap his foot precisely at the same time on each one. The Astronomy face, meanwhile, takes the wearer's position and the moon's phase into account to ensure that flying from the earth to the moon uses the proper trajectory.
The team took an equally painstaking attitude when designing the "three rings" interface on the Watch's fitness app.
"I couldn't tell you from a design perspective the number of iterations we did on those three rings," Dye said. The company was searching for "different ways that, at a glance, someone could understand that information, and easily assess where they're at in their day, and hopefully in a really simple and visceral way feel like they accomplished something when they fill them up."
The Watch's software seems to reflect its hardware, with early reviews calling the device "beautiful in a surgical way," and praising its high-quality materials and build.
Apple will begin accepting pre-orders for the Watch, which starts at $349, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on Friday. Devices will ship to customers on April 24.