The studio is showing off its first VR movie – an animated short film called Lost – at the Sundance Film Festival, with plans to make several more in the year ahead in the run-up to the commercial release of the Oculus Rift headset.
Story Studio is a sign of Oculus’ ambitions to move beyond games, the entertainment genre that persuaded Facebook to buy the company for $2bn in 2014. Oculus hopes that the new division will stimulate other animators and filmmakers to start making VR films.
“Right now the focus is to support and inspire the community—share with them everything we’re doing, opening it all up,” chief executive Brendan Iribe told Road to VR. “Over the next two months, we’re hoping to educate the community on how we did this and how we got started.”
For now, long-form films are not on the agenda: Lost lasts around four minutes, although the interactive nature of virtual reality may make running times more flexible for many VR films. “This is cinema running in a game engine in real time,” said Iribe.
He added in an interview with TechCrunch that the Facebook acquisition had accelerated Oculus VR’s plans to get in to filmmaking by recruiting a team that includes former Pixar creatives Saschka Unseld and Max Planck.
“This is another example where as a smaller, independent startup it would have been hard to spin up an effort like this,” said Iribe.
The Story Studio announcement is part of a wider buzz around virtual reality films at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Filmmakers Chris Milk and Spike Jonze have been showing off their Vice News VR: Millions March documentary, which was produced with online broadcaster Vice News.
11 of the 14 projects in Sundance’s experimental New Frontier showcase use virtual reality technology, according to The Verge, while five-minute monster short Kaiju Fury! has been picking up plenty of praise at the event too.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 27th January 2015 07.06 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010