Facebook-owned Oculus VR is about to tackle the movie business.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Oculus VR plans to unveil a new in-house group dedicated to developing and producing virtual reality films and researching story-telling practices. The group, called Oculus Story Studio, should debut on 26 January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
The Verge said the group's first movie will also premiere this week. Called Lost, it is actually a 5-minute video with real-time, computer-generated virtual reality. It is directed by Saschka Unseld, a former Pixar animator, and works with Oculus VR's Crescent Bay prototype. You can download Story Studio's app to reserve a Sundance screening time.
Facebook, which acquired Oculus VR last year for $2 billion, is reportedly keen to make the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset more commercial by expanding from the video game industry to film entertainment. It is also likely trying to develop its own high-quality content in order to lure more users interested in the Oculus Rift.
Although content creators are typically slow to adopt a new medium with few viewers, Story Studio will kick off Oculus VR's lofty ambition by generating more content and establishing virtual reality moviemaking guidelines. The group is off to a good start too, as it is comprised of 10 people who've worked at places like Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm.
Edward Saatchi, a producer at Story Studio, told The Wall Street Journal that Story Studio is focused on making "awesome movies" as well as sharing its researched-cropped information with the virtual reality community. Currently, that community includes few competitors and at least one Oculus VR partner.
Samsung Electronics partnered with Oculus to release a $199 virtual reality headset that pairs with a Samsung smartphone, for instance. Google also released an inexpensive cardboard headset - called Google Cardboard - that turns an Android phone into a virtual-reality device. Sony and Microsoft are even working on headsets.
Despite the interest in virtual reality, Story Studio has a difficult mission that involves adapting Oculus VR's advanced technology to suit films. We can't help but wonder if that'll turn virtual reality into the "new 3D" - or if it'll indeed transform the way we experience movies.