If you love Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy, as generations of Peanuts fans and product marketers do, you better get the new Snoopy Apple Watch face now available in watchOS 10.
After all, a ton of work went into making its endlessly inventive animations, according to a new report.
New Snoopy Apple Watch face shows designers’ hard work on animations
Snoopy and Peanuts have been represented on many a fancy analogue watch by the likes of Omega, among other products, but the new Snoopy Apple Watch face in the new watchOS 10 may take the cake, according to British GQ’s interview with its designers.
“Apple and its partners at the Charles M Schulz Studio took the opportunity to create the most detailed and straight-up delightful watch face yet,” the article said.
And making that Apple Watch face and its many, many animations turned out to be an epic amount of work.
Animations’ massive amount of ‘minutiae’
“When you design an analogue watch with Snoopy, he’s a static character right?” says Paige Braddock, chief creative officer at Charles M Schulz Creative Associates. “So all you’re really focusing on is the hands and the arms.”
“You wouldn’t believe the minutiae we go into to make them work at every angle, but going into this first meeting with Apple I was going ‘I don’t even know if I’m smart enough to wear this watch,’” they added.
148 animations that run for over 12 minutes total
The article described how the effort began and what it ultimately created:
That first meeting at the Charles M Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, was the Watch team’s first in-person meet-up after the pandemic, and what started as a two-hour drive north from Mountain View ultimately ended with plans for 148 unique animations that would be contextual depending on the time of day, local weather and activities. When you go for a swim, Snoopy dons his scuba gear and floats through your watch screen. When night arrives he’ll howl at the moon, and when you’re not up to much at all you can find him draped over his iconic red doghouse in a series of panels that are a direct lift from the comics. It all amounts to over 12 minutes of animation work that stemmed from an unexpectedly chaotic tête-à-tête.
The designers ended the first day with “tons of sketches littering the table.” After all, a dozen minutes’ worth of animation takes a lot of drawing.
But which version of Snoopy should star in the animations?
And even getting the best Snoopy from the character’s long life, which began in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip in 1950, took some doing. The original Snoopy only vaguely resembled what he would become over the decades, and the team settled on a 1980s-style Snoopy.
The article described how the Apple Watch makes a perfect canvas for Snoopy animations, and just how advanced they are technologically:
In some ways, the dynamic nature of the Apple Watch is an easier canvas to design for than your typical timepiece. Its square aesthetic mimics the shape of Schulz’s original cartoon panels – just as the comics used coloured ink instead of grey on a Sunday, so too does the Snoopy face – and there’s no real limit to the quantity or fidelity of animations on offer thanks to the Watch’s always-on display and up to 2,000 nits of brightness. Once both sides had agreed on Snoopy’s design, the real challenge on Apple’s side was ensuring users would actually see the animations they’d made.
If you’re going to the effort of sketching out Snoopy as he rides his kibble bowl down the minute hand, that helter-skelter-style joyride needs to have the opportunity to show up more than once an hour. So Apple’s engineers created a whole scene layout engine that can rotate certain clips by six degrees every minute, as well as a Snoopy decision engine that figures out the optimal time to showcase them without too much repetition. Unlike Lucy’s much-memed promise to hold the football in place for kicker Charlie Brown, this system works reliably in watchOS 10 – even when your nephew bugs you to show them 12 different animations in the course of a minute.