Ian McShane to Voice Lead in Google Spotlight Stories' Animated 'Age of Sail'

Ian McShane and the animated Sailor Split- Getty-H 2018
Amanda Edwards/WireImage; Courtesy of Google Spotlight Stories

Ian McShane will voice the lead in Google Spotlight Stories' animated short Age of Sail. A work in progess will be shown Wednesday evening at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France.

In the short, McShane will play William Avery, an old sailor adrift and alone in the North Atlantic in 1900. When Avery reluctantly rescues a teen who has mysteriously fallen overboard, he finds redemption and hope, according to the description.

It's directed by John Kahr, an Oscar winner for the 2012 animated short Paperman, who explained, "I wanted this piece to operate in a less stylized universe because the audience should believe the world is real, to feel the peril and the exhilaration of being in a storm, to be vulnerable."

Inspired by the paintings and style of Bernie Fuchs, Age of Sail was created to have "a sense of realism through the use of light and shadow, but the forms are made of simple, textured fields of color that work within real-time game engine constraints," the filmmakers revealed.

It's designed for virtual reality, but there will additionally be a linear version aimed at qualifying for Oscar consideration. In 2016, GSS' musical VR short Pearl earned an Oscar nomination for its linear version. Similarly, Google's recently launched Back to the Moon, an animated VR short that celebrates the work of George Melies (A Trip to the Moon), will have a linear version for awards consideration.

Age of Sail is being made with studio Chromosphere; producers are Gennie Rim (Dear Basketball) and David Eisenmann (Pearl) and exec producers are GSS' Karen Dufilho and Jan Pinkava.

Also premiering at Annecy on Wednesday is GSS' experimental interactive VR short Piggy, which features a jogging pig who finds a cake. It's directed by Pinkava and Mark Oftedal, produced by Camille Cellucci (The Little Prince) and executive produced by Dufilho.

The company explains that to achieve a feeling of one-on-one connection between character and audience, eye contact was needed and Piggy looks at the viewer with a variety of emotions. To do this, the team used eye-tracking with six degrees of freedom.