From humanitarian causes to Wall Street trading, it’s clear that virtual reality will have widespread applications. Oculus Story Studio wants to add one more to the list: Pixar-quality animated entertainment.
The virtual reality studio in question is Oculus’s in-house innovation lab, Oculus Story Studio, which aims to bridge the gap between high tech and Hollywood. At the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Oculus Story Studio debuted its first animated short, Lost, which is available for festival attendees to try out.
The film is the first of a slate of several short films–ranging from the pulse-pounding action of Bullfighter to the more surrealistic Dear Anjelica. Each film will set out its own virtual world, which users, wearing an Oculus Rift headset, can explore in 3-D while the action unfolds around them.
“I want to create emotions that are very appealing,” Story Studio’s supervising technical director (and former Pixar employee) Max Planck told Engadget. “I want you to come out of virtual reality and have a smile. Or [experience] something very touching emotionally, just like Pixar films do.”
Aiming for Pixar quality is certainly setting the bar high, although it makes sense as a comparison–given Pixar’s roots in high tech (Steve Jobs invested in it years before it hit the big-time), and its upward trajectory in Hollywood. An Engadget reporter who saw the film seems convinced that Planck’s influence has paid off: “Lost… is unlike any form of interactive entertainment I’ve ever experienced. And it succeeds in one very crucial respect: It’s endearing. … The combination of that pedigreed know-how is evident in Lost‘s polish.”
By bringing Lost to Sundance, the Oculus team is hoping to attract big-name directors and other creative talent who may be willing to throw their hats into the virtual reality ring. Given the spotlight that talented directors such as James Cameron were able to shine onto technology like 3-D filmmaking, Oculus is no doubt hoping that Hollywood heavyweights will embrace the virtual reality company, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion last year.
You can check out a video about Oculus Story Studio below, providing a few more tantalizing thoughts about the possibility of cinema entering the VR age: