Interactive VR short film Asteroids!, the follow-up to Emmy award-winning VR short Invasion! (2016) is now available for Gear VR, Daydream, and Windows MR headsets. From the director of the Madagascar franchise, the full 11-minute cut continues the journey of aliens Mac and Cheez (and robot sidekick Peas) on their deep space mission.
Baobab Studios announced Asteroids! at Oculus Connect 3 in 2016, and has since made an interactive preview of the animation available on Gear VR and Daydream platforms. A 360 video ‘sneak peek’ has also been available in various forms, including the iOS and Android Baobab app.
Today, the full version of Asteroids! is available for free across several platforms. The best experience can be found on Gear VR, Daydream, and Windows Mixed Reality devices, where the animation is rendered in real-time 3D. Sadly, unlike their first short, Asteroids! is not currently available on PSVR, HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift, despite its considerably more interactive design.
Invasion! was the team’s first foray into VR animation, and was a polished experience, but ended all too quickly. It was later slightly extended with an intro narrated by Ethan Hawke, but this felt like an afterthought, and didn’t offer the viewer what was really needed—more time with the characters. Asteroids! is a major improvement, being longer, with more complex animation and now interactivity.
“Different storytelling mediums all have a common goal—to tell great stories through characters that audiences connect with, care about, and maybe even come to love,” Baobab writes on their official site. “The great challenge and great potential for VR storytelling is not simply to achieve this goal, but also, to do it in a way that actually lets the viewer become a part of the story. With Asteroids!, this is a step towards achieving this goal.”
Follow these links to download the Gear VR, Daydream, and Windows Mixed Reality real-time versions. The non-interactive 360 video version of the full short can be viewed via YouTube 360 and Facebook 360, or via the Baobab app for iOS and Android (which also supports the Cardboard VR viewer), but for the reasons above, it is strongly recommended to experience one of the real-time versions first.
Baobab Studios is one of the largest independent VR film studios, having raised a total of $31 million in funding to date, most notably a $25 million Series B funding round in 2016 which also welcomed Larry Cutler (ex Dreamworks and Pixar) as CTO. Their current project, Rainbow Crow, an adaptation of a Lenape Native American tale, is their most ambitious, presented in several chapters, and features musician John Legend.