Oculus has revealed their second VR film project from Story Studio, the company’s internal CG film studio. The VR film is called Henry and is based on a lovable but folly-prone cartoon hedgehog.
As a hedgehog, Henry is anything but huggable, even if that’s the only thing he wants for his birthday. When no one shows up, he’s left wishing for friends (that don’t mind being impaled). In the ‘behind the scenes’ teaser, we see a number of magic balloon doggies running from him, but maybe the thick mat of hair in the background on the project’s microsite is hinting at something different in store for our spiny protagonist of the VR short.
Following Story Studio’s Lost, their first real-time rendered film debuted back in late January at Sundance Film Festival, Henry takes on a much more character driven, kid-friendly approach that seems to reflect the group’s inherited Pixar/DreamWorks DNA.
Saschka Unseld, former Pixar Layout Artist, is joined by Project Director Ramiro Lopez Dau, a former animator at Pixar. Bernhard Haux, one of Pixar’s top character artists, was tapped alongside Maxwell Planck, former Global Technology Supervisor at Pixar; and Inigo Quilez, former Technical Director at Pixar; Deputy CG Supervisor Chris Horne, former Technical Director at Pixar—making for a full laundry list of former Pixar talent.
Kendal Cronkhite, Production Designer of DreamWorks’ Madagascar franchise, has also assumed the same role with Oculus’ in-house animation studio.
While many cinematic VR film productions target pre-rendered live action or CG video, Oculus Story Studio is building their films to run in real-time, much like a traditional game, to retain the quality and interactivity that come with real-time CG experiences.
Story Studio last teased a total of five projects back at Sundance, three of which have not been further revealed.
Iribe told us back in January that “[Oculus plans] to make all of this available on the Oculus Rift [consumer version]” and that while he’s impressed with the exploratory work done by Story Studio thus far, “we still have a ways to go before people are making longer film experiences.”
Oculus says Henry will premiere on July 28th in Hollywood, CA, and those that sign up to the Oculus Story Studio newsletter on the official site will be entered to win a trip to the debut. With E3 2015 nearly two weeks away, it’s also possible we could see Henry promoted at the show alongside the grand unveiling of the consumer version Oculus Rift.