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Oculus Made Its Own Virtual Reality Movie

by Brandon Russell | January 26, 2015January 26, 2015 6:00 pm PDT

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We’ve seen how VR can alter the gaming landscape, and the impact might be just at big for movies. Hollywood has shown intense interest in the technology—there have been a lot of recent “experiences”—and it seems Oculus recognizes what an opportunity there is for immersive storytelling. The VR company took off the wraps off Story Studio at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, with the internal team saying it’s ready to debut its first movie this week.

The film, a computer-generated experience, is called Lost—no relation to the show—and was made especially for Oculus’s recent Crescent Bay prototype. We tried the headset at CES earlier this month, and it’s easily the company’s best version yet; the big feature this time was 3D audio.

Lost isn’t feature-length—it’s roughly five minutes long—but what makes it unique is that it can actually change in length depending on how the wearer reacts. According to Lost’s director, Saschka Unseld, the short can be as brief as three-and-a-half minutes, or as long as 10; it’s a new storytelling element that helps create a more immersive experience.

Oculus said its Story Studio was created because it wanted to prove that VR and cinema are a good fit. For Unseld, joining for Lost was an easy decision because he saw VR as a “true turning point in media and entertainment.”

“This is the moment of a birth of a completely new medium… That made me just instantly jump on it,” Unseld explained.

Right now, the challenge for Story Studio is figuring out how to make compelling content. Traditional filmmaking is designed around forced perspectives; you see and hear what the director wants you to. With VR, that control is in the hands of the viewer.

VR is full of potential, and content creators are actively trying to find out how to best utilize the technology. Lost is just the beginning for Story Studio, and it sounds like there’s much more to come. While video games are the obvious use-case for VR, cinema might be what really puts the technology on the map. Imagine if Disney decided to create a Star Wars experience, or if something was made for Avengers.

TheVerge

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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