Horton, Yifei Chai

Smurfs: The Lost Village

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Augmenting Your Reality with Smurfs and Microsoft HoloLens

In 2017 Sony Pictures released the third installment in the Smurf film franchise – The Lost Village. To promote the film UNIT9 partnered with AOL to create an augmented reality (AR) experience, turning the real world into a smurf playground, using the Microsoft HoloLens.

Augmenting the user’s reality with Smurfs - using Microsoft HoloLens

The storyline

Once the user puts on the HoloLens headset they are transported into the world of the Lost Village. We took elements from the movie to immerse the audience in a Smurf-themed world.


Papa Smurf acted as the user’s guide to the augmented world, introducing the concept of the game and demonstrating how to play.

A Smurf from the point of view of the user

A Smurf-sized augmented reality

The diminutive size of each Smurf 3D animation worked perfectly with the HoloLens field of vision. This allowed us to bring each character to reality in a way not seen before.

The characters size fit perfectly with the HoloLens augmented field of vision

“The smurfs are a perfect fit for the hololens – bringing these little characters to life and seeing them move around your space – it’s just perfect”.

Alex Horton, Director, UNIT9

An animator's challenge

Our animators had to recreate 3D Smurf characters fit for an augmented experience. Breathing life into each of the Smurfs, with their unique personalities, while stripping the 3D animations down to the HoloLens specification was a real challenge.


“Our challenge was to bring to life the graphics, reflecting the personalities of the smurf characters in the film, and adapt them to a HoloLens environment with specific demands on design and development”.

Virgil Tanasa, 3D Animator


We tested the experience with ​children knowing they were our end user. They were natural adopters of the​ HoloLens​ technology and found the mixed reality intuitive and immersive.​

Testing the experience with big and little kids