Last month I wrote a story about the premier of a short animated VR film, Henry, produced by Oculus Story Studio, which is an internal content division of Oculus started by former Pixar and Dreamworks animators and producers. In that story, I gave some of my impressions of this VR “movie” experience, and wondered aloud whether we were heading toward a new creative outcome that was difficult for us mere mortals to predict or imagine, given years of ingrained notions about movie-going, story telling, and game playing.
The article sparked a delightfully erudite discussion among Tom’s Hardware community members who seemed to push each other to think about how VR story telling might veer off the beaten path.
Coincidentally, a couple new developments arose the following week around VR content; and simultaneously, I conducted some quick email interviews with Ray Davis, GM of Epic Unreal Engine (which was used in the making of Henry), and Edward Saatchi, producer of Oculus Story Studio. I want to call out (tease?) in particular a comment that Saatchi made in response to a question about whether immersion will remove some of the community nature of watching films on a big screen. I find his answer, which you can read further into this piece, eye-opening and further proof that VR film making will take us in a much different direction than 3D filmmaking has.
I will tick off some of the news around VR content in a bullet list below, and finish this up with a verbatim replay of my interviews. First, though, I wanted to cherry-pick a few of the more interesting insights from our readers, because I think this sets the stage well for the ensuing conversations:
Now onto a few of the tidbits I found of interest:
- A VR agency called Kaleidoscope announced that it was kicking off a traveling VR film festival from August 22 - October 14. It will visit 10 cities: Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, LA, Denver, Montreal, Toronto, New York City and Austin. Kaleidoscope is newly formed, by Rene Pinnell and former Industrial Light & Magic technical director Michael Breymann. The LA event on September 23 seems to coincide with the annual Oculus Connect developer conference, which is also in LA.
- On the virtual eve of the expected release of the HTC-Valve project, Vive, Lionsgate announced it would launch a virtual reality game based on the film John Wick. The first person shooter is being developed by game developer and publisher Starbreeze, which will also be working with WEVR, which created theBlue: Encounter, a title that HTC used to introduce Vive, and Grab, another VR studio.
Before we begin the interviews, some readers may wonder why I've chosen to write about this on Tom's Hardware, and aside from the obvious VR tie-in (a platform upon which the next evolution of gaming has undoubtedly started to form, and one which demands some pretty serious hardware), one of the main things all of this points to, if you couldn't tell, is the potential convergence of game and film, albeit in a way that will have to play out over the next few years.