Oculus has shown off a 12-minute virtual reality movie in the hopes it will convince filmmakers to use the technology and produce content that attracts consumers for the Rift VR headset. The animated tale of Henry, a hedgehog who loves hugs, debuted at an invitation-only event at a Beverly Hills mansion.
Henry is the second title from Oculus’ virtual reality storytelling division, Story Studios, which employs both video game engineers and former Pixar animators. The studio's first title, Lost, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
The movies use virtual reality to immerse viewers in the story. In Henry, the viewer dons the Rift headset to virtually enter the hedgehog's home in which they can look around the 360-degree environment and sit at a table as Henry celebrates his birthday. Viewers can’t touch Henry, but Oculus' hand-tracking technology may allow for future Story Studio titles having additional interactivity.
"The goal with Henry and these short films isn't to be an introduction to virtual reality", said Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. "We're trying to build things with Oculus Story Studio that other people can learn from and build better content from as a result."
It remains to be seen whether Hollywood will embrace virtual reality as a viable storytelling medium, although Award-winning directors such as Guillermo del Toro, as well as Walt Disney Company's LucasFilm, are testing out the platform.
Oculus plans to bundle Henry and other movies and games for free with the Oculus Rift. The company has not said how much the system will cost when it launches early next year.