Mankind’s relentless search for Waldo (or, outside of the U.S. and Canada, Wally) is one that has been ongoing since 1987, when English illustrator Martin Handford’s elusive stripe-shirted character first began appearing in his bestselling picture books before spawning video games, a comic strip, and even a television series. For nearly 30 years, world traveler Waldo has been the grinning, bespectacled Moby Dick to the rest of humanity’s Captain Ahab, forever blending into crowd scenes and daring readers, viewers, and players to locate him. And, just when it seemed like the Thatcher-era franchise had no more to offer the world, along comes Corridor Digital with an ingenious interactive video called “Where’s Waldo 360” that takes the traditional Where’s Waldo? experience and makes it truly immersive. YouTube has been supporting 360-degree videos since March 2015, and now it seems like the technology has finally been put to the best possible use, i.e. allowing users to tilt the camera up, down, left, and right while seeking a strange man in a red-and-white shirt and matching hat.
Shot entirely with GoPro cameras and assembled with Kolor software, “Where’s Waldo 360” offers an intuitive use of YouTube’s 360-degree feature. Over the course of four minutes, the viewer is shown a series of sun-drenched locales, including a beach, a midway, and a shopping plaza and is invited to find Waldo within each one. Tilting the camera straight down will reveal a list of other characters to find within each tableaux, including Nintendo’s Mario and Toad, plus a friendly giant and “Troubled Travolta.” On the soundtrack, in addition to some bouncy music, is what sounds like walkie talkie chatter among Waldo’s frustrated, Javert-like pursuers. “I wish I could find him,” one man says. “If only a civilian would help and point him out.”
For those who want to know how this particular bouillabaisse came together, Corridor Digital has also posted a five-minute behind-the-scenes video. The company explains why it chose GoPro cameras for this experimental project and also disclose what it was like to film a Where’s Waldo? video in very public places. The character, they found, was instantly recognizable wherever they went. When they spotted the actor playing Waldo, bystanders could not resist the urge to shout, “I found you!”