Cinematic Experiences ‘Gloomy Eyes’ and ‘The Line’ Available Now with Hand Tracking Support

Oculus Blog
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May 28, 2020
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We’ve seen an astonishing lineup of cinematic experiences across the Oculus platform these past few weeks. The 360° films Dear Mom and When We Stayed Home premiered this past month, and the SXSW Virtual Cinema event kicked off this last week. Today, we’re thrilled to announce two interactive narratives featuring hand tracking support — Gloomy Eyes and The Line. Each fully interactive experience is part of the Cinematic Narratives Set*, available now on Oculus Quest.

Gloomy Eyes
Narrated by Colin Farrell (The Gentleman, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Gloomy Eyes is an animated trilogy where fantastical dioramas twist and rotate around the audience. Winner of the ‘Best VR experience’ at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival (2019) and winner of the ‘Jury Award for Storytelling’ SXSW (2019), this Tim Burton-esque animated story of a zombie boy and a mortal girl is a playfully macabre tale of love forbidden love.

We spoke with Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso, two of the minds behind Gloomy Eyes, to learn more about the project and get their thoughts on immersive art.

Can you tell us about your background as artists and filmmakers?

Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso: Ever since we were kids, we made animations: tons of unwatchable short films that taught us how to create little films. Later in life, we worked a lot on commercial animations; maybe we did too much. That fueled us into going back to those happy childhood days and making our own stories. This is how some of 3dar’s short films were shaped like Shave it and Uncanny Valley.

Can you tell us a little about the Gloomy Eyes trilogy?

FM and JT: The story talks about a magnific way of understanding the world, and love from a child’s point of view. Crossing the barrier of what’s socially acceptable, and showing how tolerance and acceptance of what’s different works better if it doesn’t have limits. Even in the worst adversity, when we should only think about ourselves.

What were some key inspirations behind the production?

FM and JT: We started with a thriller that slowly turned into a mystic and colorful love story. Miyazaki inspired us a lot with his style of blending divine entities and myths into human reality. He completes his worlds with emotion and innocence.

What’s something about immersive films you feel would surprise people?

FM and JT: They can move you with well-told stories. The ‘wow’ effect of VR will have a short life, so content needs to reach deep into human emotion and be thrilling at the same time.

What are the key considerations when filming for VR versus traditional mediums?

FM and JT: Any story can be told in VR, but it’s important to know if the story benefits from the physical space and presence that VR provides. It’s key to focus on that.

The Line
Set within a scale model of 1940s São Paulo, The Line is an interactive story about love, and fear of change, starring two miniature dolls named Pedro and Rosa. Narrated by Rodrigo Santoro(Westworld, 300) and directed by Ricardo Laganaro, The Line was awarded the “Best VR Immersive Experience” prize at the 76th Venice International Film Festival. This roomscale experience invites audiences to explore a make believe world and use hand tracking to tinker with objects and unravel the story of star crossed figurines.

We also spoke with Ricardo Laganaro to learn more about The Line and hear about the art of immersive filmmaking.

Can you tell us about your background as an artist/ filmmaker?

Ricardo Laganaro: I started working as a filmmaker in Brazil in 2001, doing stop motion animation. Computer Graphics was a new industry in Brazil, and the place where I was working had just begun the transition from analog to digital cinema. I’m part of a generation that had an analog childhood but a digital adolescence, so it was natural for me to bridge the gap between different times and technologies. I started directing projects for new formats working at O2 Films, like the full-dome at the entrance to the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio, which led me to virtual reality.

In your own words, can you tell us a little about The Line?

RL: I like to call it an “embodied narrative”. Using physical reactions to trigger emotions, The Line inspires contemplation. The user’s body replaces physical controllers, so their movements inform the narrative and inspire self-reflection.

What were some key inspirations behind the production?

RL: I was inspired by my family’s own history. São Paulo is a city of hard-working immigrants. My grandparents were the first generation of immigrant families born in Brazil, and they lived their entire lives in the same city block. I could see records of the city and my family being built together. In “The Line,” most of the design elements are based on train sets and a scale-model universe, reinforcing the idea of being stuck in a routine. My biggest inspiration for the characters was Buster Keaton, who was a master of showing emotions with charisma without moving a single muscle on his face. And to understand how to provoke emotions through movement, the whole team took classes in contemporary dance.

What first interested you in VR as a tool for storytellers and filmmakers?

RL: The possibility of taking part in creating a new language within a new medium has always fascinated me. Every time we study a traditional medium, like cinema, we always research and learn about the trailblazers who established the foundations we use. Having the chance to be one of these explorers for VR is something that makes me very excited.

What’s something about immersive films you feel would surprise people?

RL: The sense of presence, for me, is the greatest feature of immersive narratives and VR in general. When living through an immersive experience, the viewer remembers it as if it were a real memory, not something they watched. And when the whole body is part of the story, the surprise is even greater. Over the years, as we grow up, we forget that we can “hear” a story with our whole body (as we all did when we were children). When we're reminded of this through an immersive narrative, it is truly magical.

What are key considerations when filming for VR versus traditional mediums?

RL: From the technology to the language of the medium, everything is developing and evolving so fast that the writing process has to be more integrated with the entire production process, not only during pre-production. At ARVORE, we created a framework that mixes filmmaking and game development, transforming the screenwriter into a narrative designer that is part of the production team throughout the entire process. It is easier to understand how it works for animation. Still, it can also work very well in live-action if you find ways to prototype your piece a few times (360º animated storyboards, recorded rehearsal sessions, etc) before shooting.

Ready to jump into whimsical worlds of immersive fantasy and fiction? Head over to Cinematic Narratives Set on Oculus Quest today to get started.

*This offer is valid on purchases at Oculus.com from 5/28/2020 10AM PT to 6/4/2020 11:59PM PT. Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Discount automatically applied at check out. Not valid on prior purchases. Not valid for cash or cash equivalent. Facebook Technologies, LLC reserves the right to cancel or modify this offer at any time without notice.